Though facing a minnow, the United States cannot afford to take Antigua lightly, with World Cup 2014 on the line.ST. JOHN'S, Antigua -- Normally known for his thorough explanations, Jurgen Klinsmann kept it simple in describing the objective for the United States when it faces Antigua and Barbuda on Friday.
"All I want is three points and to move on to Kansas City," Klinsmann said. "They [the U.S. national team] are ready. They understand the stakes."
The U.S. has two matches to ensure it progresses to the Hexagonal stage of World Cup qualifying. Jamaica, Guatemala and the United States are all tied on seven points at the top of Group A. So far in qualifying, the Stars and Stripes haven't shown the same promising results as they have in friendly matches. The team has struggled to score in its group matches, with its best result being a 3-1 victory over Antigua and Barbuda in its opening qualifier in Tampa, Fla.
Klinsmann stressed that the team should have scored more considering the chances created in that match and expects more in its upcoming match.
"We had countless opportunities in Tampa. [We have to learn] not to waste those anymore," Klinsmann said.
Although there is a sizable gap in ranking and population between the two sides, the match could be more difficult than expected. The United States has several key players out due to injury. Both left backs Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castilo will miss out and midfielders Landon Donovan and Brek Shea suffered setbacks. Adding to those dilemmas, the U.S. will be facing a hungry Antigua and Barbuda that will be playing for pride on its turf.
Eliminated from World Cup qualifying, Antigua and Barbuda is playing its final home qualifying match in what's expected to be a sellout crowd. Sir Vivian Richards is a cricket field and its national team has only conceded one goal during qualifying matches thus far -- Guatemala's stunning winner from Carlos Ruiz. Team captain Carlos Bocanegra expects the home side to provide a good challenge.
"They have nothing to lose so they are going to try to score on us and beat us," Bocanegra explained to Goal.com. "They want to get a win at home. For us, it's important [as well]. We need to get a win, we need to get in their faces and stay disciplined and organized."
Bocanegra has been impressed by what he's seen from the United States during its training camp in Miami. The team clearly wants to send a message on Friday.
"We had a good week. Guys have their heads in the right place," he said. "This is an important game for us. We can't afford to take it lightly and have any slip-ups."
Follow ALEX LABIDOU on