Antigua has no business hoping for a win on Friday night when they take on the US Men's National Team in their first CONCACAF World Cup qualifier. With 90% of their roster comprised of players who play for Antigua FC of the USL or in the vaunted Antigua and Bermuda Premier Division, the USA should cruise past Antigua on Friday night.
But World Cup qualifying can get crazy. And if the Americans have shown one consistent weakness in their last three friendlies, it's defending players who fit the same profile as Antigua's best player, Dexter Blackstock.
Blackstock is a big striker (6' 2"), and he has some speed. He's a very similar player to Olivier Occean, the Canadian striker who gave the US defense fits on Sunday night.
Blackstock scored eight times in 22 games for Nottingham Forest in 2011-12 (including a brace against Portsmouth on the final game of the season) and has notched 27 goals over the last three seasons for Forest.
But tactics will be the deciding factor in just how much of a role Blackstock plays in Friday's outcome. Antigua figures to pack it in on the US, putting all 11 guys behind the ball to defend against the American attack.
There won't be a whole lot of ball for Blackstock and Antigua to see either. If the Americans held 62% of the possession against Canada on Sunday night, that number could easily be closer to 70% versus Antigua.
Friday night, and the entire qualifying process moving forward is about making the most of that possession, just as we saw on Sunday when the Canadians put together just as many quality scoring chances as the United States, despite only seeing 38% of the ball.
But keep the name Dexter Blackstock in the back of your mind as you get ready to watch the qualifier against Antigua on Friday night. Any threat that Antigua does put on the American goal likely will involve the English-born striker.
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