June 11, 2012
BATTLE OF THE AMERICAS
U.S. visits Guatemala as it vies for a win and three more points in WCQ
GUATEMALA CITY — One thing is certain for the United States when it takes on Guatemala in its second game of the World Cup Group A qualifying semifinals on Tuesday night: the Americans won’t be playing a team that will have 10 men behind the ball.
|Tim Howard will backstop the USA against a desperate Guatemala squad in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The U.S., which recorded a 3-1 victory over Antigua & Barbuda in the CONCACAF opener in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, will play a Central American side that will be desperate for a win to keep its qualifying hopes alive. Guatemala lost at Jamaica, 2-1, on Friday.
“I don’t think Guatemala’s going to sit back at home, so I don’t think we’re going to have to deal with that problem,” said U.S. striker Clint Dempsey, who converted a penalty kick in Friday's win. “I think they’re going to be on the front foot. They’re going to be playing with that confidence that they’ve got the whole stadium behind them, and I don’t really see them being a team that’s going to sit back at home during a World Cup qualifier.
“In that sense, we don’t have to worry about them packing it in the back. We’ve still got to move the ball quickly and take our chances when they come. We’re still a work in progress. . . . We’ve got to win away from home if we want to qualify for the World Cup and that starts with the next game.”
Regardless what the players or coaches said, it was an underachieving result and performance for one of the giants of CONCACAF against a minnow side that had reached the semifinals for the first time.
“We’ve just got to be a little more clinical in front of the goal and that comes with confidence and it comes with the next game,’ Dempsey said. “We’ve got to step up, go out there and get the job done, and take advantage of the chances that we get.”
That’s exactly what the Americans did the last time they played at Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City on Aug. 20, 2008, when Carlos Bocanegra’s header off a corner kick lifted the visitors to a 1-0 win. Eight players on this team performed in that match four years ago.
“I remember pulling up to the stadium and it being full,” goalkeeper Tim Howard told www.ussoccer.com. “I had played in a lot of big games on certain teams, but I had never experienced that – where you get there two hours before kickoff and the entire stadium was full and singing. Actually, to be honest, I thought there was a game going on – like there might have been a game going on before us. But then you see the pitch was empty and it was our game they were ready for. It was incredible.”
The Americans enter the game with a substantial advantage over the Guatemalans. They have a 17-match unbeaten streak (12-0-5) against their Central American foes, including a 6-0-4 mark in World Cup qualifying. The U.S. has not lost to Guatemala since a 1-0 defeat on Jan. 10, 1988.
Winning at home is commandment No. 1 when it comes to World Cup qualifying. But a team can help itself measurably if it can bring home a win or two during its run.
“It gives you so much confidence when you can win a game like that,” Howard said. “You have to keep going away from home and when you start losing games away from home early on, it begins to creep into your mind. “How are we going to pull this out, how are we going to get points away from home?” When you can do it so early on it boosts the whole group and it can give you the confidence and bravado you need [for the rest of qualifying].”
Tuesday’s 10 pm match will be available live on both cable and satellite pay-per-view via iN Demand, DIRECTV, DISH Network and Avail-TVN, as well as via on-line PPV on Ustream.tv at http://www.ustream.tv/integratedsportsppv.