After losing to Mexico in heartbreaking fashion in the CONCACAF Cup on Saturday night, the United States Men's National Team must rebound quickly as they will take on Costa Rica (Oct. 13, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) in a friendly at Red Bull Arena just three days after.
The damage has already been done. All that's left to do is to pick up the pieces and try to figure out what went wrong so it can be fixed. This game isn't about results at all. It's about one simple thing:
How will the players react?
The U.S. Men's team is in an extremely fragile state at the moment. Coming off a tough loss to their bitter rivals and public pressure mounting to fire the coach, Tuesday's game could be the tipping point.
Despite the poor result against Mexico, you cannot question the effort from the players. All 14 men who were called on to play a part gave it their all for 120 minutes. Will that same effort and hunger be there when nothing is on the line? That'll be the true test of the manager's ability to get his message across to his players.
As much as the fans and media will continue to call for Klinsmann's head, ultimately the players hold his fate in their hands. Will they respond to the loss with a motivated and inspired performance to try and prove all the doubters wrong? Or will they come out lethargic and uninterested? If it's the latter then we have a serious problem. It signifies that Klinsmann has lost his players and they no longer want to compete for him.
The outside spectators have no inkling of how the collective group of players view Klinsmann as their head coach. We only have speculation and hearsay to go off of. Tuesday's game will go a long ways in showing us if the players still want to play for their current boss. If this test is failed, then the U.S. Soccer program has even more questions that it must answer going forward.