With plenty to play for last Tuesday against Jamaica, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann pulled out a lot of the offensive stops in search of a much-needed three-point haul. Looking to add some punch after a listless away performance, the coach inserted the attack-minded Graham Zusi on one side of the field, went with just two defensive midfielders, compared to the three he used in Kingston, and instructed his players to go forward incessantly.
The results were instantaneous. Though they couldn't put the ball in the net in the first half, the Americans struck the woodwork three times, had a whopping 80 percent of possession and pinned the Jamaican attack in its own defensive third.
It was an impressive display -- one American fans will hope to see repeated -- but it still wasn't quite the full-out attack the Americans are capable of. That comes down to personnel. The U.S. once again played without a true creator in the center of the field, and though Jose Torres served admirably as a stand-in left winger, he is miscast out wide.
Things of course will change when Landon Donovan returns to the fold. But the veteran's appearances are becoming fewer and farther between, and the day seems to have arrived when planning for his absence has become a necessity. As far as that No. 10 spot, Klinsmann doesn't seem to like any of the veteran options -- Sacha Kljestan, Benny Feilhaber or Freddy Adu, to be specific.
But if the coach is to continue getting the most out of the American attack, he'll need some offensive weaponry to plug in when Donovan or Clint Dempsey is missing, or when the coach simply wants to up the ante in attack.
A good example of that will come as soon as Oct. 12, when the U.S. visits Antigua and Barbuda. The Americans will need to win comfortably in the Caribbean to set themselves up and avoid some potential heart-stopping moments in the group finale against Guatemala a few days later. In fact, a sizable goal differential in Antigua could well put the U.S. all but through, so the attack will be crucial.
With the options for instant offense limited on last week's roster, whom could Klinsmann call on to boost the team going forward? Here are some young contenders to consider:
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