The target has not changed for US national team head coach Bruce Arena in the upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Panama.
During a Facebook Live Q&A after revealing his roster for the qualifiers on Wednesday, Arena said the target for the two matches was six points, but short of that, a home win against Honduras at Avaya Stadium on Mar. 24 (10:30 pm ET | FS1, Follow on the MLS App) was absolutely essential, alongside a point on the road against Panama on Mar. 28 (10 pm ET | beIN Sports).
The US currently sit in last place in the Hexagonal round of qualifying, two games into the phase. In order to maintain the USMNT's World Cup qualification streak intact (they have qualified for the last seven tournaments), they will need to pick up points, and quickly, in the final eight games of the round.
One of the questions Arena was asked concerned the formation for the upcoming games. The coach indicated a two-striker formation was quite possible, and also spoke about options in defense, with a three-man backline recently becoming a fashionable formation around the world.
"Certainly there's a variety of ways of playing," he said. "I said with this roster we can play anywhere with three, four, five in the back. Clearly, I favor four in the back, but three is an option."
Arena, who knows Lletget well from his tenure with the LA Galaxy, praised the player as one of a number of younger players providing speed and new energy to the group.
McCarty, who received his first US cap in 2009 but was not selected by former coach Jurgen Klinsmann, provides the Americans with experience, skill – and a vocal presence.
"I've known Dax for a number of years, I think he's a very good player. I saw him up close in our camp in January. He played well, he's experienced, he communicates well, he fits in well with the group. And watching him play his first two games with Chicago convinced me that he can be an important part of our squad."
Given the stakes of the upcoming qualifiers, Arena discussed the strategies he'll use to balance the pressure of the moment with making sure the team stay relaxed for the task at hand.
"I think the week of training [ahead of the game] is important. We've done a lot of legwork before we even entered this camp, and have talked with the players. I think they're going to be confident, they're going to be aggressive, and they're going to be as relaxed as you can be in games like this which are crucial.
"This is a very important game for the US team, we need to win the game," he continued. "There's certainly going to be some tension and pressure, but that's all part of it. We have elite athletes and they're accustomed to playing in games like this, so I'm confident they'll show up and be in the right frame of mind to be ready to play and perform well."