New England Soccer Today

US Takes Point from Guatemala

In the end, a draw was probably the deserved result, but the U.S. National Team missed no shortage of opportunities to extend their lead before Guatemala grabbed a late equalizer in their eventual 1-1 draw in Guatemala City on Tuesday night.

Clint Dempsey gave the U.S. the lead five minutes before halftime and the U.S. wasted numerous opportunities to add to it, before Marco Pappa equalized for the home side on an 83rd minute free kick.

“I think the game was open for most of the stretch of it,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “Obviously, with the lead one-nil, you want to win it, you want to bring the three points home. We came for three points but I think at the end of the day, the tie, based on all the chances on both sides, is OK.”

The draw keeps the U.S. in first place in Group A of the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. After two matches, the U.S. (1-0-1, 4 points) is tied on points with Jamaica, but leads the group with their +2 goal differential. The top two teams in each group advance to the final round.

The U.S. opened the scoring in the 40th minute through Dempsey. The former New England Revolution star got the ball at the top of the box from Fabian Johnson and took a few touches to create some space before hitting a low shot past goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez for his 27th goal for the U.S.

Holding nearly 63% of the possession, the U.S. looked likely to add to their lead as Guatemala was forced to leave their defensive shell in search of an equalizer. Yet, despite 14 shots, the U.S. only forced Jerez into one shot.

Guatemala came close to equalizing in the 67th minute, but both Pappa, a Chicago Fire midfielder, and Carlos Ruiz, a former MLS star, failed to hit the target on good opportunities. Guatemala would finish the match with 14 shots of their own, forcing U.S. ‘keeper Tim Howard into 3 saves.

Then it was the U.S. turn to attempt to add to their lead. The team wasted numerous opportunities before substitute Jozy Altidore broke behind the defense in the 79th minute off a Dempsey pass and scored, but referee Joel Aguilar had already blown his whistle. Aguilara called foul on Guatemala and gave the U.S. a free kick, which would be wasted by Jermaine Jones, rather than playing the advantage.

Ruiz earned what would prove to be the equalizing free kick in the 83rd minute. The crafty striker earned a soft foul against Johnson just outside the box. Pappa curled a free kick over the wall and Howard was rooted to his spot as the ball went in.

But the U.S. had more chances to grab back the lead. Michael Bradley even got behind the Guatemala defense only to get a bit too unselfish, trying to find Altidore, who had stopped his run, with a pass, ruining the opportunity. It was one of several chances the U.S. wasted after opting to pass rather than taking a shot.

The U.S. returns to qualifying on September 7th, traveling to face Jamaica with first place in the group on the line.

Leave a Reply