The USA will have to rebound quickly from a loss to Panama to face a feisty Guadeloupe side looking to play the spoiler.
Watch CONCACAF Gold Cup™ Guadeloupe v USA, Tuesday 6/14 live at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Soccer! For a complete match schedule, click here
Perspective is everything.
The United State's loss to Panama was a disaster for American soccer. No two ways about it.
For most fans of the U.S. national team, it was cause to be upset. Once again the calls for Bob Bradley's head are ringing out across soccer forums and message boards, with plenty of new evidence to back the theory that Bradley should be out as manger and that a major overhaul to the lineup has to be made.
Out with the old, in with the new is the attitude leading into USA’s match against Guadeloupe Tuesday night in Kansas City, a game that could potentially send the Americans packing with a loss.
Not that this is anything new. In every sport it's always the players who weren't on the field that could have made the biggest impact and the fantasy coach that could be in charge that could have guided the ship through the roughest waters. Be it Freddy Adu, Jose Torres or any of the other players that have bantered about, those guys would have made all the difference.
But it's also true of every sport that bad nights happen, and soccer is no different.
Less than a year ago another tournament favorite lost a group match to huge underdog. In that match, an athletic Switzerland team set up shop, got a bit of luck on its side for a goal (the goal is actually oddly similar to Panama's first against the USA), and held on to knock off Spain.
The loss was so costly, so devastating to the Spanish national team, that all it could manage to do after that was run off six consecutive wins and win the World Cup.
With that in mind, maybe it's time to step back from the ledge for a minute, remember that the loss to Panama came in a group game, not in match that eliminated the team from the tournament, and realize that despite the loss, not much has changed.
"We talk(ed) about the kind of game we were just in, and now the ability to push forward understanding that the road to move through this tournament is now a little different," Bradley said after the loss to Panama.
The USA's road hasn't changed much. A win over Guadeloupe and Bradley's side will likely push into the quarterfinals to face the winner of Group B - which will be decided between Honduras and Jamaica - rather than facing a third-place qualifier. The venues won't even change, nor will the likelihood of meeting up with either Mexico or Costa Rica before the final.
Jozy Altidore could find himself on the bench
The major difference is that now the match against Guadeloupe holds a significance that it didn't seem to hold prior to the loss to Panama. It is now a must-win.
"Nothing less than a win works for us, so we have to win the last game and go from there," defender Steve Cherundolo said.
While the match against Guadeloupe has turned into a big game for the USA, for Guadeloupe it offers one final chance at glory in the 2011 Gold Cup. After taking tough losses to Panama and Canada, knocking the USA off would be a huge feather in Guadeloupe's cap.
Of course, the USA will have to make changes going forward in the competition. The defense looked overmatched at times against Panama and the attack struggled to find the final pass. But those issues can be resolved, and in truth the USA had more than a few chances to get a result against Panama.
If the USA can turn things around against Guadeloupe, then the Panama loss will be become essentially meaningless. Another loss, and those calls for Bradley's job to end will likely be realized.