U.S. men’s soccer team moves ahead in group qualifying

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup less than a year away, the United States men’s soccer team has begun regional qualifying in hopes to advance to the world’s stage for soccer in Brazil. For the qualifying process, the United States is in the six-nation North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) region along with Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, and Jamaica.

World Cup qualifying began slowly for the U.S. in February 2013 with an away match against Honduras. Even though the U.S. lost 2-1, the American soccer team was able to win three straight games in June and take the lead within the group. Currently with 13 points (4-1-1), America is ahead of second placed Costa Rica by 2 points and third placed Mexico by 5 points.

Even as the U.S. team leads the Americas in the regional group, critics are not surprised. The only other teams in CONCACAF to even make it past qualifying in recent years have been Mexico and Honduras.

But this year, the U.S.’s playing style has drastically changed. With the absence of Landon Donovan due to a knee injury, the U.S. soccer team has needed to rethink its strategy. After being on a two-year scoring drought, striker Jozy Altidore has recently been given another chance to start for the team. Since his re-appearance for the team, Altidore has scored in five straight games, breaking a United States scoring record.

Many of Altidore’s goals have come in great importance to the American team. His latest hat trick against Bosnia gave the U.S. a 4-3 win over the European team.

Back at home, America has found a way to win the majority of its qualifying games as well.

Most of the credit has been given to the manager, Jurgen Klinsmann. Although Klinsmann has only repeated starting lineups twice in his two year tenure, the constant change within the team has proven to be effective.

Going forward, the United States soccer team hopes to win its next four games against Mexico, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Panama. The qualifying campaign continues Sep. 6 when the U.S. plays Costa Rica in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Even if the U.S. is not able to win all of their final games, sports analysts are confident that Jurgen Klinsmann and the team will advance to the World Cup. With 13 points and still four games to go, there is a high possibility that the United States will see soccer’s biggest stage in 2014.