Three Big Storylines:
- While this is not a mathematically must win game, it is a must win game. Even a draw would see World Cup 2018 qualification depend on other teams results. Landon Donovan was on The Dan Patrick show this morning and when asked about if a loss tonight would cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job Donovan said "If you can't beat Guatemala at home in a World Cup qualifier then you probably shouldn't be the coach. The answer is as simple as that."
- Ticket sales have not been good in Columbus. Mapfre Stadium holds 24,000 and reported sales as of Monday were sitting at 17,000. Tickets are not cheap. Get in price is $55 ($63.30 with fees) for upper endline seats and $90 ($100.60 with fees) for midfield seats. Mapfre Stadium has hosted the USMNT 10 times with a 7-0-3 (W-L-D) record including 6-0-2 in World Cup Qualifiers.
- Lineup news is already starting to trickle out. The Washington Post is reporting that D.C. United's Steve Birnbaum will start at Center Back in place of Michael Orozco. It was always the plan to rotate keepers, so expect to see Brad Guzan in place of Tim Howard. Alejandro Bedoya picked up an ankle injury and is questionable Matt Besler was sent back to Sporting Kansas City with a concussion and Fabian Johnson was not deemed fit and sent back to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Replacing them on the roster is World Cup veteran Graham Zusi and Borussia Dortmund's 17 year old phenom Christian Pulisic. Pulisic has earned his way into the BvB first team in 2016 and if he sees the field will be making his Senior National team debut after starring at the U-17 level.
- Bonus 4th Storyline: Canada hosted Mexico on Friday in front of a record 54,798 at BC Place stadium in Vancouver. Despite the 3-0 home loss, Canada is in decent shape to qualify for the Hex as their fellow Group 1 competitors El Salvador and Honduras played to a 2-2 draw on Friday in El Salvador. Canada head to Azteca Stadium with nothing to lose and will likely bunker and hope for a point.
From a Sounders Point of View:
Clint Dempsey is expected to start for the USMNT. Former Sounder Marco Pappa played 45 minutes in Friday's loss to Guatemala and should see time. Sounders academy graduate DeAndre Yedlin started and went 90 minutes on Friday and is expected to start again.
A failure to even make the Hexagonal Round of CONCACAF qualifying would be a major setback for US Soccer. While there is arguably no tangible direct effect on the Sounders, there would be ripple effects throughout MLS and the overall soccer landscape in America. Plus the MLS TV deal is tied to US Soccer. As a Sounders fan, you are likely cheering for the USMNT tonight.
TV and Streaming Listings:
Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman on the call, Mónica González as sideline reporter with Bob Ley and Kasey Keller on site in Columbus for pre-game, post-game and halftime studio programming.
This is your Sounder at Heart USMNT World Cup Qualifier Gamethread. Watch with us.