Urgent issues for the Americans 

June, 11, 2012

As Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. advance, figuratively, in what they've denominated a five-game tournament, the team has displayed some troubling tendencies, culminating with the less-than-inspiring 3-1 win against tiny Antigua and Barbuda Friday night. Aside from the obviously unimpressive score lines in the matches with Brazil, Canada and Antigua, there's been a disturbing decrease in quality of play during the last two weeks.

Digging down into the malaise, a few issues come to light that will need to be addressed, not only for the important road match Tuesday in Guatemala, but also if the U.S. is to get comfortably through this round of qualifying and into next year's hexagonal. Here are some things Klinsmann should have his eye on mid-term and more immediately as the team prepares for its final match of the summer.

Attitude and killer instinct

The U.S. has been running in low gear since the Brazil match. In fact, ever since the thrashing of Scotland two weekends ago, the Americans just haven't seemed to feel an urgency to prove themselves on the field.

That lack of urgency showed against Canada and again against Antigua and Barbuda, with low-octane efforts not fit of a national team that has most of its important pieces on the field. On Friday, the U.S. had all of the possession, but time after time, things broke down in the final third, and the forwards passed up open looks to make an extra pass as if playing a charity match. Only Herculez Gomez showed any real hunger to score.

Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.