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The Daily Dirt, March 20: Digging out of a hole

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The USMNT faces difficult challenges over the next week

United States v Cuba Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This is an especially important international break for American soccer. USMNT players are dropping like flies due to injury, Bruce Arena is facing his first two World Cup qualifiers, and the team is in a position it has never been in before.

Only one team has ever qualified for a World Cup from CONCACAF after losing its first two games. Trinidad and Tobago snuck into the inter-continental playoff in 2006 and had to beat Bahrain over two legs to make it to Germany. The USMNT will be battling against history, and cannot afford to drop points.

Honduras is also very difficult to beat. They have a strong crop of young, up-and-coming players. Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis has starred for the Houston Dynamo so far this season, their speed and skill out wide will be a huge challenge for the U.S. I’m not a fan of calling games “must win”, but Friday’s night’s home game in San Jose is as close to a “must win” game that the U.S. has played in World Cup qualifying in a long time.

It doesn’t get any easier next week as the USMNT head to Panama to try to grab some points on the road. Panama has been very close to qualification for its first World Cup in recent cycles, the U.S. famously kept them out in 2014 with a wild comeback late in the last qualifier that opened the door for Mexico to get in. Panama has not forgotten that and will be out for revenge next Tuesday.

Get ready for some drama like we have not seen before during World Cup qualifying...


Domestic

Big win for the Seattle Sounders, 3-1 over the New York Red Bulls (Sounder at Heart)

Orlando City had a plan to shut down the Philadelphia Union (Orlando Sentinel)

New wrinkles from Columbus lead the Crew to a win in D.C. (Massive Report)

Thoughts from Alexi Lalas and Kasey Keller on Clint Dempsey and the USMNT (Playing for 90)

Bobby Wood out for the USMNT in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, how will Bruce Arena cope? (MLS)

International

Thoughts from the most recent weekend of Liga MX action (FMF State of Mind)

CONCACAF considering the creation of a Nations League (Jamaica Gleaner)

Local