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Americans Abroad - Feb. 13-16 Review the top Americans that have taken their talents overseas this year. /foxsoccer/usa/gallery/gallery-americans-abroad-feb-13-16-performances-players-overseas-021614 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2014/02/17/021614-SOCCER-hitting-the-mark-PI_20140217014153889_136_102.JPG
Best Snapshots of the Week - Feb 9 -15 Review FOX Soccer's best images from the world of soccer /foxsoccer/world/gallery/soccer-football-snapshots-of-the-week-february-9-15-images-players-clubs-managers-fans-021214 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2013/12/11/121113-Soccer-Steven-Gerrard-PI-AA_20131211153738813_136_102.JPG
Best Snapshots of the Weekend - Feb. 8-14 Review FOX Soccer's best images from the world of soccer /foxsoccer/premierleague/gallery/soccer-football-snapshots-of-the-week-february-8-14-images-players-clubs-managers-fans-020814 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2014/02/08/020814-Soccer-Eden-to-the-top-PI-AA_20140208115908126_136_102.JPG
United States v Korea Republc - Action Shots Review the best images from USA's international friendly against the Korea Republic form the StubHub Center /foxsoccer/usa/gallery/united-states-mens-national-team-vs-korea-republic-friendly-stubhub-center-020114 http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2014/02/01/020114-SOCCER-the-right-start-LN-PI_20140201192038657_136_102.JPG
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USA 2737 8 US vs. Antigua & Barbuda - players to watch 31093129 Waiting to click Waiting+to+click USA

The first step toward the 2014 World Cup will take place on Friday for the U.S. Men’s National Team, and if the Americans are going to avoid an upset against tiny Antigua & Barbuda, they will need their star players to step up and erase the memories of the team’s recent disappointing performances.

 

The onus will be on the attack to muster more goals after managing just one in their past two matches. The scoreless draw against Canada raised concerns about the potency of the U.S. offense, particularly considering the fact the USA fielded close to a first-choice attack against the Canadians.

 

There are still some question marks about just what will be Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting lineup, with the forward position and central defense chief among the areas still being sorted out. Just who is called on will largely depend on what formation Klinsmann chooses to take on an Antigua & Barbuda side that will likely follow the same defend-and-counter script that CONCACAF minnows have followed against the United States for years.

 

With that in mind, here are the five American players who should play key roles against Antigua & Barbuda:
 

Christian Petersen - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-US-players-wc-qualifier-LA-G1_20120607120237845_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-US-players-wc-qualifier-LA-G1_20120607120237845_107_80.JPG
USA 2737 8 US vs. Antigua & Barbuda - players to watch 31091967 Clint Dempsey Clint+Dempsey USA

The leader of the U.S. attack, Dempsey has been recovering from a groin injury that had sidelined him, and he has not been at his sharpest in recent matches.

 

With some extra time to rest this week, Dempsey should be able to deliver the chances expected of him, but if he is still not fully sharp, the U.S. attack could falter again.

Action Images / Carl Recine - http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-Soccer-Players-To-Watch-Gallery2-JW_20120607141316303_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-Soccer-Players-To-Watch-Gallery2-JW_20120607141316303_107_80.JPG
USA 2737 8 US vs. Antigua & Barbuda - players to watch 31091966 Jozy Altidore Jozy+Altidore USA

A player who would have been considered a lock to start a month ago, Altidore has had to deal with playing catch-up with the rest of the national team after his club team blocked him from joining training camp on time.

 

The result was him only playing in one of the team’s three recent friendlies, and now there are doubts about whether he will definitely start on Friday. Look for Altidore to get in the game, and it’s a safe bet he will find the net as he tries to re-assert his place in the USA forward pecking order.

Action Images / Carl Recine - http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-Soccer-Players-To-Watch-Gallery1-JW_20120607141315302_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-Soccer-Players-To-Watch-Gallery1-JW_20120607141315302_107_80.JPG
USA 2737 8 US vs. Antigua & Barbuda - players to watch 31093132 Landon Donovan Landon+Donovan USA

No player has seen a decline over the course of the past three matches like Donovan, who went from unstoppable against Scotland to invisible against Brazil and a non-factor against Scotland. Whether it was fatigue, or just bad form, Donovan looked off.

 

Klinsmann will need Donovan to be energized, and to handle his defensive responsibilities against an Antigua & Barbuda side with some speed on the left flank.

Tom Szczerbowski - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-US-players-wc-qualifier-LA-G3_20120607120415849_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-US-players-wc-qualifier-LA-G3_20120607120415849_107_80.JPG
USA 2737 8 US vs. Antigua & Barbuda - players to watch 31093134 Herculez Gomez Herculez+Gomez USA

One of the real revelations of the recent friendlies, Gomez has impressed with his mobility, passing touch and tenacity. Some may consider him a newcomer, but his lack of national team caps is balanced out by big-game experience that is as good or even better than the players he’s competing with for playing time.

 

Antigua & Barbuda’s defense is vulnerable, and this could be a breakout game for Gomez.

Tom Szczerbowski - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-US-players-wc-qualifier-LA-G5_20120607120514853_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-US-players-wc-qualifier-LA-G5_20120607120514853_107_80.JPG
USA 2737 8 US vs. Antigua & Barbuda - players to watch 31093135 Clarence Goodson Clarence+Goodson USA

It is unclear who will start at centerback alongside Carlos Bocanegra, but Goodson looks like the best bet considering how good he looked against Canada and how shaky Oguchi Onyewu was against Brazil.

 

Antigua & Barbuda has some pace up top, so Goodson seems like an even more reasonable option. If Goodson can put in his third straight solid start on Friday, he could lock up the starting role for the rest of the qualifying round.

Tom Szczerbowski - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-US-players-wc-qualifier-LA-G6_20120607120546855_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fsc/img/2012/06/07/060712-US-players-wc-qualifier-LA-G6_20120607120546855_107_80.JPG
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