COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. Men’s National Team needed a strong bounce-back performance and three points after suffering a shocking shutout loss to Guatemala last Friday.
The U.S. got both, and a little bit of revenge as well.
Four different players scored and the U.S. cruised to a 4-0 win over Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier at Mapfre Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Americans had suffered a 2-0 road defeat at the hands of the Central American nation in a qualifier last week to face a virtual must-win situation in this rematch, but had little problem disposing of Guatemala en route to picking up three more points on the road to Russia 2018.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side was in such control of the affair played in front of 20,624 fans that the U.S. head coach inserted teenage midfielder Christian Pulisic into the game in the 81st minute. Pulisic, who made his international debut with the appearance, is now cap-tied.
Facing pressure to grab a win after losing to Guatemala for the first time since 1988, the U.S. came out flying out of the gates and took a lead in the 12th minute.
Clint Dempsey got the U.S. on the board when Geoff Cameron clipped in a pass towards Gyasi Zardes in the penalty area. Zardes drew a pair of defenders that collided on the play and the ball ricocheted off of the U.S. youngster and into the path of Dempsey for the easy finish. The goal gave Dempsey a U.S. record 14 goals all-time in qualifying, one more than Landon Donovan.
The Americans doubled the lead 10 minutes before halftime through Cameron, who peeled away from his mark on a free kick to meet Michael Bradley’s service and flick it into the back of the net with a nodded effort.
Guatemala inserted Carlos Ruiz and Marco Pappa into the game at halftime in an effort to find more of an attacking punch, but it took a mere seconds for the U.S. to make it 3-0. A ball was slipped in behind the Guatemalan defense, and Zardes got a touch on it before Graham Zusi fired home clinically.
Substitute U.S. forward Jozy Altidore capped the scoring in the 89th minute, blasting a shot past Guatemala goalkeeper Paulo Motta after Dempsey danced on the ball in the penalty area.
The Guatemalans struggled throughout the match to test the U.S. back line, and one of their best chances came on a tame effort from Stefano Cincotta in the 33rd minute. Cincotta took advantage of minimal space down the left to fire a shot that went right into that hands of U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
The U.S. now sits in second place in Group C of the third round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying with seven points. Trinidad & Tobago remains in first after smashing St. Vincent & the Grenadines, 6-0, in their Tuesday bout.
Qualifying now takes a break until the fall, and the U.S.’s attention turns towards this summer’s Copa America Centenario.