USA international Clint Dempsey says that the team’s meeting with Guatemala in Kansas City on Tuesday is a ‘must-win’ fixture.
Although both sides would navigate the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying safely by playing for a draw, the forward wants his team to go for maximum points in the Group A encounter.
And he believes that coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s leadership will help guide the side to a seventh consecutive World Cup.
The German is under pressure after a stuttering campaign so far – it took a last-minute winner from Eddie Johnson to give the USA a 2-1 victory over minnows Antigua and Barbuda on Friday.
“Obviously it was a difficult game,” Dempsey told Goal.com after the match.
“We weren’t able to pass the ball really that well, it was real muddy. Tough conditions for both teams, really, to try and play soccer in, but at the end of the day, we brought out the result, we got three points, and now we’ve got to get a result against Guatemala.”
Dempsey went on to say that the win was a positive but that the team still had plenty of work to do.
“We’ve got to look at the next game as a must-win,” he said. “We’re trying to get three points and put ourselves in a position to get out of the group. It feels good to get the win, but we’ve still got our work cut out for us.”
The Tottenham star praised Johnson’s two-goal performance against Antigua and Barbuda, after the 28-year-old continued his fine domestic form having scored 14 goals in 26 games for MLS side Seattle Sounders.
“It’s great for him,” said Dempsey, who also played alongside Johnson at Fulham.
“You know he’s had a tough time in Europe, but he kept working hard, and showed that he has quality.
“He got goals in MLS and he got two big goals for us tonight. I’m proud of him, you know what I mean? As a team-mate, but also as a friend.”