USMNT: Fixtures and Predictions for 2012

Juan Carlos Salas@juancsalasContributor IIIDecember 22, 2011

USMNT: Fixtures and Predictions for 2012

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    Finally 2012 is near and with it comes a fresh start for the U.S. Men’s National Team. The rough losses and discouraging play of 2011 will be behind them. Jurgen Klinsmann will also begin his first full year at the helm of the USMNT. 

    But 2012 will be a very busy year for the red, white and blue. With eight matches scheduled already, the USMNT will turn its focus to qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 

    Let’s look at the upcoming USMNT fixtures and some predictions for 2012.

January 21: United States vs. Venezuela

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    The January USMNT camp will be primarily composed of MLS players who are currently in the offseason. Therefore, it will be crucial for these players to prove their worth. 

    The years of Venezuela being South America’s punching bag seem to be over. The "Vinto Tinto" has made some noise in CONMEBOL. Venezuela is also coming off a fourth-place finish in the 2011 edition of Copa America.

    Facing Venezuela will be a good test for the American offensive line. They will be facing a Venezuelan team that has averaged a little over one goal per game in its last 14 games. 

    A victory will be a great start to 2012, but if the USMNT reverts back to its lackluster offense, a draw would be more of a likely result. 

January 25: United States at Panama

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    It will be the first time these two face each other since the 2011 Gold Cup. The two sides played twice in the tournament; Panama beat the US team 2-1 in group play, while the Americans eliminated the Panamanians 1-0 in the semifinals.  

    Panama will challenge the physicality of the Americans and will try to show their home fans they can be contenders for one of the CONCACAF spots reserved for the World Cup.

    Then again, these opponents will probably allow the Americans to play the way they want—fast off the ball and dictating the pace of the game. The USMNT must take advantage of those opportunities arises.

June 8: United States vs. Antigua and Barbuda

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    The USMNT’s first CONCACAF qualifier shouldn’t be too difficult to handle.

    The Antigua and Barbuda team has won its second-round group and has outscored its opponents 26-5. But the U.S. will also be at full strength and is be expected to earn all three points in its first game of the qualifying cycle.

June 12: United States at Guatemala

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    The biggest reason why the U.S. will be at full strength when playing Antigua and Barbuda is to prep for its game against Guatemala—the hardest game for the Americans in this six-game round. 

    Always a tough opponent, the Guatemalan team is exponentially more difficult to beat when playing in its home country. The U.S. will have to overcome a hostile crowd, while also showing the improvements they have accomplished with head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

    On paper, it’s easy to say that the U.S. has the three points in the bag, but as history has shown us, it will be all up in the air until the closing whistle. 

    With that said, the Americans will most likely leave Guatemala with at least one point.

September 7: United States at Jamaica

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    Don’t expect too many members of the first team to be called up for the United States’ pair of matches against Jamaica. 

    If the U.S. qualifies for the Summer Olympic Games and performs well, there may be an influx of U-23 players donning the U.S. crest at the top level. Otherwise, Klinsmann may be looking at MLS talent once again. 

    Regardless who gets called up, it shouldn’t be too hard of a game for the U.S. to win. Unless Klinsmann decides to do some heavy experimentation, then fans may see a not-so-pretty U.S. side.

September 11: United States vs. Jamaica

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    Can we just claim the victory and get on with it? This date will forever be synonymous with American sadness, but also pride. And, if there is a sports game on the same day, one can multiply that pride by a lot. 

    Whoever decided to book a qualifier game in the United States on September 11 should be given a lot of credit. 

    Yet, facing one team twice in row can be dangerous. The outcome of the first game won't be indication of the second game. The U.S. has to be careful not to have a performance that's a letdown—especially in front of what could be a heavily favorable home crowd.

    Still, Klinsmann won’t probably suit up his best men for the USMNT’s second game against Jamaica. The Americans will be heavily favored to win this match, and there will be no reason to think they will do otherwise.

October 12: United States at Antigua and Barbuda

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    The U.S. should have no trouble with its second game against Antigua and Barbuda—just like their first bout on June 8.

    Depending on the outcomes of the American's previous four matches, and where the team stands in comparison to everyone else on the table, Klinsmann might field a younger and less experienced squad.

    The idea to give the inexperienced players some time on the field, while also not exhausting the core of the team for the last match of of group play.

October 16: United States vs. Guatemala

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    If the USMNT do their job correctly up to this point, then this match should only be important to Guatemala.

    Otherwise, be ready for an intense battle. Guatemala will come with all guns blasting. Like in most instances, the crowd will be against the USMNT when the Americans host Guatemala. The challenge for the Americans will be to overcome not only their opponents, but also the fans around them. That makes the task even more daunting.

    Even with the foreseen obstacles, the U.S. should be able to get a result against Guatemala at home. They will win, if not out of necessity, then to build confidence going into the last round of the CONCACAF qualifiers.  

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