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CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Must the U.S. Win the Hex to Silence Critics?

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CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Must the U.S. Win the Hex to Silence Critics?
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Less than 24 hours after Brad Evans sent American soccer fans into a jubilant celebration with his stoppage-time winner against Jamaica, the focus of the American soccer-viewing public has been shifted to Seattle. 

Seattle is where the United States will look to run away from Costa Rica and Mexico at the top of the Hexagonal standings on Tuesday night. 

A win against Panama on Tuesday is expected from Jurgen Klinsmann's team, and so is a full three points against Honduras at Rio Tinto Stadium seven days later. Winning both matches would give the Americans a solid 13 points from six matches, a total that would deemed a successful tally for Klinsmann and company.

Following the pair of matches out west, the United States will have four crucial matches on their schedule in September and October that could define their identity at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 

While winning two home matches is the goal right now, winning the Hexagonal should be the goal for the long term. 

Winning the six-team group, which only has five real contenders after Jamaica's woeful start, would be a statement for a team still looking to make one during the Klinsmann era. 

Yes, beating the likes of Italy and Germany in friendly matches is a nice thing to put on the resume, but the real goal for the United States since Klinsmann took over was to soar to new heights at the World Cup in Brazil. 

With that being said, the only way that Klinsmann and U.S. soccer can define the German's reign as manager a success is to win the Hexagonal. 

Klinsmann and his players have earned plenty of criticism over the last two years for their lack of consistency and continuous blunders, especially in the back four. But after the win over Jamaica, it seems like a turnaround is in the cards. 

Winning the Hexagonal group would be a statement to the fans of the much-maligned national team that the future is bright and that the United States will look to contend past the group stage in Brazil.

Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

Already in the first five matches of the Hexagonal, the United States have won for the first time in Mexico City and Kingston respectively, two honors that should be taken more seriously than friendly victories over two European superpowers. 

Being dominant on the continental level in the final year leading into the World Cup is mandatory for a team needing a sense of identity and confidence. 

The hard-fought results from Azteca and "The Office" have set the tone for the no-nonsense attitude that Klinsmann is trying to set against his CONCACAF foes. 

The most defining match of the Hexagonal could come in September, when the United States make their third and final crucial road trip to face Costa Rica. 

Winning in San Jose in early September would put the Americans in pole position to win the group and with home matches in the American fortress of Crew Stadium against Mexico and in Kansas City against Jamaica, the Hexagonal victory could be locked up. 

If the Americans are able to take home the title of Hexagonal champions, the panic mode that the American soccer-viewing public has been in for the last two years will begin to fade away, and the promise and potential of Brazil will be squarely on the minds of everyone involved with U.S. soccer. 

Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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