Fresh off a demoralizing defeat at the hands of Belgium, the United States needs to come out kicking in its next friendly against Germany on Sunday.
The U.S. national team fell to Belgium, 4-2, last Wednesday in Cleveland, Ohio, in a match where little went right for the Americans. Jurgen Klinsmann had no match for Belgium's attack, which poked several holes in a flawed squad.
Now they face another juggernaut in Germany, who picked up a 4-2 win of their own against Ecuador on Wednesday. This exhibition at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C, provides the Americans with another litmus test to see if they have what it takes to make it at the 2014 World Cup.
Or, for that matter, if they will qualify.
Klinsmann would sure like to see these players step it up against Germany to erase the sour taste left from their loss to Belgium.
LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez appeared outmatched against Belgium, struggling mightily to halt his powerful foes.
The exhibition was a rough day for Gonzalez, who allowed Kevin De Bruyne to slice through him and Geoff Cameron to set up Romelu Lukaku with one of Belgium's four goals from the contest. Gonzalez faltered again later, misplaying a ball in the U.S. box that afforded De Bruyne another easy assist.
In order to solidify his spot as a starter for Team USA, Gonzalez needs a better showing against Germany.
With Michael Bradley out of action, Sacha Kljestan received a perfect opportunity to prove his worth for Team USA. His production, however, left a lot to be desired.
Instead of establishing his role as a vital midfielder, Kljestan meshed poorly with Jermaine Jones. Their first goal materialized from a set-piece while the second resulted from a questionable hand-ball call, so the duo did little to aid the scoring attack.
Klinsmann needs to know if he can count on the 27-year-old going forward. If not, there are many players hungry to get a chance at regular playing time.
Which U.S. player will deliver the best performance against Germany?
Klinsmann raised some eyebrows by removing forward Jozy Altidore before the second half of Wednesday's friendly. While the substitution reflects his subpar performance that day, the 23-year-old should receive ample chances to redeem himself.
As a teenager, Altidore led USA with six goals while qualifying for the 2010 World Cup. Three years later, he stands as one of the sport's brightest stars, having notched 23 goals in 33 Eredivisie games.
He's now enduring a rough patch, but there's no reason to give up on the young phenom. If anything, this friendly is the perfect opportunity for him to play out of his funk.