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updated: 9/13/2012 8:39 PM

National team struggling to qualify for World Cup

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  • United States' Landon Donovan celebrates following the World Cup group C soccer match in June between the United States and Algeria at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa.

      United States' Landon Donovan celebrates following the World Cup group C soccer match in June between the United States and Algeria at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa.
    Associated Press


If you're feeling a little seasick these days, it might be because you've been watching U.S. men's soccer this year.

First, the U-23 national team failed to qualify last spring for this summer's Olympics. Then came the tremendous high when the senior national team defeated archrival Mexico at Azteca Stadium for the first time and did it without using its best players.

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Now the senior national team is making fans bite their fingernails over whether it can qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Not only did it lose at Jamaica last Friday, it looked bad doing it. It looked good in the first hour or so of Tuesday's victory against Jamaica in Columbus, Ohio, then made fans queasy with its inability to possess the ball, giving it away far too often.

So now the Americans are in a three-way tie in a four-team group, with only two teams advancing to the final round of CONCACAF qualification and two games to play.

The United States should advance, but don't bet a paycheck on it. And advancement sure won't come with style points.

A year into Jurgen Klinsmann's tenure as coach, the U.S. team is still trying to develop players and a playing style. It lacks consistency.

Maybe Klinsmann needs more time, but the calendar won't change. Failure to qualify for the World Cup would be a terrible embarrassment for U.S. Soccer, far more embarrassing than the failure to qualify for the Olympics.

The final two matches of this qualifying round are next month, Oct. 12 at Antigua and Barbuda and Oct. 16 vs. Guatemala at Kansas City. Klinsmann and Co. need to deliver.

Another change:

As has been rumored for a couple of weeks, the Fire announced Thursday it has loaned Israeli forward Orr Barouch to Bnei Yehuda in Tel Aviv.

"This loan provides Orr with an opportunity to earn consistent playing time," Fire coach Frank Klopas said in a club statement. "Orr was interested in playing in Israel, and Bnei Yehuda was a good fit. We look forward to monitoring Orr's progress and development while he is playing in Israel."

Barouch saw a lot of playing time last season off the bench, but his playing time dwindled this year. He is just the latest player to leave the Fire this season, a list that includes Sebastian Grazzini, Marco Pappa, Federico Puppo and Rafael Robayo.

Meanwhile, the club has just four forwards on the roster, which is down to 26 players, four below the league maximum.

The Fire entered Thursday's lottery for former Wake Forest forward Marcus Tracy, who is returning from Europe, but he wound up at San Jose, the league's top team so far this year.

Rumors are it might also sign Mexican international Guillermo Franco.

•Follow Orrin on Twitter @Orrin_Schwarz

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