Considering the weakness this defense has shown in qualifying and the penchant the US has shown to seize up in front of goal, this team would be lost without his occasional but increasingly frequent spurts of creative genius and attacking verve. If Messi doesn't get any teammates to step up in the attack on Tuesday against Ecuador he and Argentina won't even make the World Cup. Arena said. "I know everyone thought we were going to qualify in whatever, six games in 2017".
All hope isn't lost, though.
Mexico have clinched their place at the World Cup with 18 points, while Costa Rica have 15 and are of the verge of securing a berth. Thousands of soccer fans who filled the stands here walked past it, and most surely paid it no mind as they banged on their drums, drank from their bottles or sang.
With the USA leading a joint bid with Mexico and Canada to host the 2026 World Cup - and overwhelming favourites to be named hosts by Federation Internationale de Football Association next year - missing out on Russia 2018 would be devastating for the growth of the game in North America. To determine the fifth place team, the AFC has a playoff.
Syria and Australia tied, 1-1, in the first game of the series on Friday. The second leg will be played on October 10. And if it happened, the US would take fourth place. The U.S.is two points ahead of Panama, which will host second-place Costa Rica in its final match. A draw would change nothing between the two. Tropical Storm Nate forced the postponement of Costa Rica's home contest against Honduras, with the match to now take place on Saturday. The U.S. Men's National Team has become a perennial participant in the competition, having qualified for each of the last seven World Cups dating back to 1990.
Los Angeles FC coach Bob Bradley, who led the USA from 2006 to 2011, is in Orlando consulting Bruce Arena's staff for the Americans' crucial match against the Canaleros on Friday at Orlando City Stadium. The top three teams will qualify automatically for Russian Federation, while the fourth-place team will face Australia or Syria in a two-game playoff in November for a World Cup berth. A loss meant Panama was out completely. In addition to starting in the World Cup qualifier at Panama, he played for the Los Angeles Galaxy from 2013 to 2015.
Friday night's contest against Panama is absolutely huge regarding whether or not the team gets in. "We've come a long way from November 2016 when we were 0-2 with a minus-five goal differential". Arena was likely swayed by Johnson's scant number of appearances for Borussia Mönchengladbach, although Johnson did log 90 minutes in a league win this weekend. That helps Panama not see this match as a daunting task.
Plenty of people with plenty of opinions have already let us know about the potential pitfalls and scenarios should those three points not end up with the USMNT.
Then there's Tuesday's finale against Trinidad and Tobago.
The U.S. predictably slowed the pace of play after halftime in order to protect the lead.
Messi might want to borrow a copy of the US win to show to his teammates as evidence of what can be done when you attack as a group, and support your star.
This past March, the USA and Panama played a qualifying match in Panama City, with a final score of 1-1. It had been 12 years since the Americans faced such stress in the final round and, regardless of Friday's outcome, their fate would be decided in the 10th and final match. The good news for the U.S.is that they have the easiest two games of the three in the fight for third.
Gans was especially critical of Gulati's decision to award former coach Jurgen Klinsmann a four-year contract before the last World Cup.