First Posted: Mar 20, 2013 10:21 AM EDT

Head coach of the U.S. national soccer team Jurgen Klinsmann (2nd L) of Germany celebrates with his players after their team's victory against Mexico during their international friendly soccer match at Azteca stadium in Mexico City August 15, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Henry Romero (MEXICO - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))

Last November, the United States national team got its campaign for the 2014 World Cup off to a dreadful start. After jumping out to a 1-0 lead over Honduras, the team imploded for two goals and wound up losing the crucial opening round 1-0. In years past, the Americans were considered locks for the World Cup, but with five other top contenders it does not look as likely. On Friday the USMNT will take on Costa Rica in possibly their most crucial match of the tournament.

A look at the standings indicates a tough situation for the Americans. Honduras was the only team to pick up a victory in the first batch of games while the other two matches ended in ties. The result is that the United States ended up in last place with zero points. Most would argue that one point for every other team is a huge help, but the fact that they all got off to a decent start hurts the American squad. After all, Mexico is unlikely to continue losing points the way they did against Jamaica. The first round tilt between Panama and Costa Rica proved that while both teams doesn't great defenses, they have solid offenses.

The United States still has nine remaining games, including the Costa Rica tilt, but the game is their first of five on home field. Simply put, the US cannot afford a loss on home field for the remainder of the competition. Honduras' strong start gives them a huge advantage in occupying one of the top spots, while Mexico is expected to secure a berth sooner or later. That leaves one slot open and it is not secure for the United States.

After the Costa Rica tilt, the USMNT takes on Mexico away from home on March 26; historically this has never been a favorable matchup for the Americans and there is a high probability that they lose that match. If they only manage one point (or no points) in their first three games, then their hopes of making a seventh straight World Cup appearance will be non-existent.

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