Juergen Klinsmann took over the USMNT mid-cycle, prompting the more neurotic among us to fear that World Cup qualifying “is right around the corner.” Breathe. Around the corner is June 2012, giving Klinsmann 10 months until his first competitive match. Those matches he faces will not be that competitive. Qualifying is Klinsmann’s most important task, but the draw, even by CONCACAF standards, is extraordinarily easy.
The U.S. receives a bye into the third-round. The group will consist of Jamaica (SPI 53) with the winners of Groups E and F in the second round. The toughest possible group would be Guatemala (SPI 84) and Haiti (SPI 118). They went through a tougher group for 2010 with a 5-0-1 record, outscoring opponents 14-3.
For the fourth-round hexagonal, the toughest group opponents possible are Mexico (SPI 10), Costa Rica (SPI 36), Hondruas (SPI 37), Jamaica (SPI 53) and Canada (SPI 57). A listing Bradley team still handled Jamaica and Canada comfortably. A top three finish qualifies them. Fourth-place would place them in a playoff with the Oceania champion, probably New Zealand (SPI 67). It’s almost impossible for them not to advance. They could get in without beating a team in the SPI Top 50. If anything, their “gauntlet” is an argument for merging the two American federations.
Klinsmann will get the U.S. to Brazil. The interim should be spent developing a team that can compete when it gets there. As with any international manager, his true test will come in three years.
[Photo via Getty]