Jurgen Klinsmann and the United States are braced for a “tricky” World Cup qualifier against minnows St Vincent and the Grenadines.
USA host St Vincent and the Grenadines in St Louis on Friday, having never played the tiny CONCACAF nation.
The opening Group C fixture in the fourth round, which will see the top two countries from each group advance to the final round known as the ‘Hexagonal’ for a place at Russia 2018, presenting a unique challenge for Klinsmann and Co.
The former Germany coach, though, is as ready as he can be heading into the qualifier at Busch Stadium.
“You’re not very familiar with that team,” Klinsmann replied when asked by US Soccer about the challenge of preparing for St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“You watch their previous games, you analyse their individual players as much as you can, but you don’t have that detailed picture that you have for teams like T&T [Trinidad and Tobago], who played in the Gold Cup, or the usual powerhouses in CONCACAF that you know pretty well.
“This is a bit tricky. We have a lot of respect for them like we always have with our opponents, and we expect a lot of work against St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We are looking forward to it because we are going to have a big crowd in St Louis and we want to start on the right foot in World Cup qualifiers.”
The pressure is on Klinsmann to hit the ground running following USA’s failure to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in October, having lost in the semi-finals of the Gold Cup three months earlier.
But that has not stopped the German from making some risky calls amid a three-match losing streak.
Klinsmann omitted Clint Dempsey, USA’s second-most capped player, while including debutants Darlington Nagbe and Matt Miazga.
Inexperienced trio Alan Gordon, Jordan Morris and Miguel Ibarra, who share 11 caps between them, are also set to feature in St Louis.
St Vincent and the Grenadines’ route to the third round has been long and arduous, and not without goals.
Cornelius Huggins and his men were the beneficiaries of the away goals rule after their second-tie against Guyana finished 6-6 on aggregate in June.
That high-scoring affair was followed up by a 3-2 aggregate win over Aruba in September.
Tevin Slater scored five goals in four games.
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