The USMNT, along with Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico, qualified for the 2014 World Cup from the CONCACAF region.
Qualification for the U.S. began in the third round of CONCACAF qualifying with the U.S. placed in a group alongside Jamaica, Guatemala and Antigua and Barbuda.
The third round began in June of 2012, and the U.S. started off with a fairly unimpressive and, at times, nervy 3-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda at home. Four days later, the U.S. tied Guatemala away after conceding the lead in the 81st minute, when Marco Pappa hit a stunning free kick to equalize late in the match.
Qualifying resumed in September, when the U.S. lost 2-1 to Jamaica in Kingston. The U.S., four days later, then won the return leg against Jamaica 1-0 on September 11 in a flag-filled Columbus Crew Stadium.
Heading into the last two matches of the semifinal round of qualifying in October, the U.S. still wasn't assured of advancement. In the first match in October, the U.S. won 2-1 over Antigua and Barbuda away on the strength of two goals from Eddie Johnson, including one in the 90th minute. The U.S. then headed into its final match of the semifinal round against Guatemala, needing a win or a tie to guarantee its place in the final round of qualifying.
The match started out horribly for the U.S. as Carlos Ruiz got in behind the American defense to score the opening goal in just the fifth minute of play. But eventually the Americans calmed down and ground out a 3-1 win to earn its place in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying, commonly known as the hex.
Continuing their uneven run of form from the semifinal round, the hex started out with a 2-1 loss to Honduras in February of 2013.
Heading into the two March qualifiers, things could not have been much worse for the U.S. For one, the team was beset with injuries. But seemingly far worse, the team was suffering from internal divisions, as only three days before the qualifier against Costa Rica, the now-infamous "Friendly Fire" article by Brian Strauss was published.
However, the team responded with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica on a snow-covered field in Colorado, followed by a 0-0 draw at Estadio Azteca four days later.
In June, qualifying resumed and the U.S. went on a three-game CONCACAF winning streak, with victories over Jamaica, Panama and Honduras. In September, the U.S. lost 3-1 to Costa Rica but followed that up four days later with a 2-0 "Dos a Cero" win over Mexico in Columbus to seal qualification.