"Big game tonight" doesn't begin to approach the magnitude. If the United States Men's National Team fails to net a result in this evening's World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, we'd be heading into Tuesday's even bigger and tougher match in Mexico City with no wins, no draws and no points through two games in the 10-game final round of CONCACAF qualifying for Brazil 2014. That would be very bad. Luckily, Jurgen Klinsmann is aware of the importance of full points tonight, calling it a "must win." Never mind that the USMNT will be without mainstays like captain Carlos Bocanegra, vice captain and all-world goalkeeper Tim Howard, all-time high scorer Landon Donovan and many more - Team USA needs a win tonight. Here's hoping.
Time: 10:11 pm EDT
TV: ESPN, WatchESPN, UniMas
Venue: Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.
Projected USA Lineup: As tough as Klinsy's XIs can be to pin down beforehand - the man loves his last minute surprises - this one is even tougher than usual, thanks to all the injuries the team is facing. We should be reasonably confident Brad Guzan will get the nod in goal (over Nick Rimando and the inexplicable presence of Sean Johnson). I think we'll see Geoff Cameron at right fullback, Clarence Goodson and Omar Gonzalez partnering in the middle and DaMarcus Beasley (of all people) at left fullback. Until Klinsmann shows me that he understands that you don't have to have three defensive midfielders in every starting lineup, I'll predict that we'll see Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu all on the teamsheet, with Eddie Johnson again coming into the free role on the left side of the formation. Up top, we should see Jozy Altidore, with Dempsey playing the right-sided role underneath. There are many reasons I hope I am wrong about this lineup - once it's announced, look for the official lineup down in the comments.
Prediction: I'm actually a little scared to take a stab at this one, but it's the job, so here goes. Give me USA by a flattering 2-0 score line. I don't think we'll look like we're two goals better than the Ticos, but it's a funny old game, and we should poach a couple to calm the critics (just a little, though) before next week's trip to Mexico.
What Are You Drinking: Whiskey. Probably bourbon, possibly Frankfort, Kentucky's Eagle Rare mixed into a manhattan.
This is your place for pre-game, in-game and post-game discussion, so have at it down in the comments.