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US Soccer to get huge challenge when they play against Guadeloupe

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It may be early but the United States soccer team is already in desperate need for a win. When they take on Guadeloupe, there will be no turning back if they lose. Although they will most likely advance, this is a chance to redeem themselves.

To advance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup format the US won’t need a win for sure, but it wouldn’t hurt. Teams play three first round matches, an exercise that serves to eliminate only 4 of 12 nations before quarterfinal play.

So, truly, the U.S. would need to be historically inept Tuesday inside brand new, high-tech Livestrong Sporting Park to somehow not find its way into Gold Cup quarterfinals.

They'll probably get a win or, at very least, a tie against Guadeloupe, the tiny French department that plays in CONCACAF events but isn't even an official FIFA tournament participant (9 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer and TeleFutura). Full of French professionals, Guadeloupe isn't terrible and might even pose a marginal level of threat -- but no one will confuse these guys for Spain. Bob Bradley's team should have ample horse power to get the job done -- never mind that stinker on Saturday night down in Florida.

The real problem now facing the United States is that the bigger Gold Cup picture just got significantly more complicated. That 2-1 shocker, Saturday's loss to Panama, dramatically altered the plan. What could have been a relative respite in the American Midwest, a chance to rest the starters for tougher matches ahead while checking out the nation's newest soccer stadium, is now a real troublemaker, one with little margin for error.

Right back Steve Cherundolo, one of the few Americans on top of things Saturday, said his team needed to spend as little time as possible analyzing the terrible night in Tampa, the program's first loss in 27 Gold Cup group play contests. What else must they do?

"Go out and play the soccer that we want to play, that we can play, and obviously to win," Cherundolo said. "Nothing less than a win works for us, so we have to win the last game and go from there. It's going to be the hard route to the final now but we're ready for it, and we have to get this loss behind us and focus on the next game."

In terms of mentality, confidence, maintaining fan sanity and Bradley's solid job status, that's probably true. But technically speaking a draw would do, although it wouldn't give the Americans any chance to finish atop the group. Since a tie will be sufficient to wiggle out of the first round, their chances of first-round elimination, a.k.a. total calamity, remain small.

Guadeloupe has already lost to Panama (3-2) and to Canada (1-0). Then again, who knows what the Gwada Boys can do if they manage to keep everyone on the field; lacking tactical and individual discipline, they went down to 10 men in both losses so far.

So call them problems, challenges, inconveniences or whatever, but here are some of the issues Bradley and his men now face:

They can still win the group with victory Tuesday, but there will be scoreboard watching involved. They can finish no better than second if Panama defeats Canada inside the same stadium Tuesday.

But a U.S. win paired with a Canadian win creates a three-way jumble atop Group C. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head competition among the three teams involved; that would remain deadlocked in this scenario. The United States would be well-positioned on the next tiebreaker, goal difference in matches among the three teams. Canada, to finish first, would need to beat Panama by three goals while scoring four or more, which seems unlikely. Otherwise, the United States would win the group.

So to avoid the tiebreakers, the US will have to grab a win in a game that is winnable. All eyes will be on the US as they play to win and erase a horrible loss.