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USA vs. Guatemala (Match Night Commentary)


Tonight might not have been a bad night to invade Guatemala.

Now I don’t know how big the Guatamalan army is, but a good chunk of it is here, at Estadio Mateos Flores. We are more than an hour from kickoff of the USA-Guatamala World Cup qualifier and the stadium is already close to capacity, filled with excited Guatamalan fans (and a sprinkling of brave American fans).

You know the stats. The Americans have never won a World Cup qualifier in Guatemala, but will still be favored to take all three points tonight. U.S. coach Bob Bradley has called in a full-strength squad that will face the intimidating atmosphere at the Estadio Mateos Flores (for those of you wondering, Mateos Flores’ clame to fame was winning the 1952 Boston Marathon).

The wireless internet is working here so I will be able to provide you all with commentary on the goings on here throughout the evening. If you will be watching the match here, please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Enjoy the match (and the commentary).


PRE-GAME– Trinidad & Tobago is thrashing Cuba, 3-0.


PRE-GAME– Here is Guatemala’s lineup, the 4-5-1 we expected:







PRE-GAME– Just got word that Carlos Costly scored on a rocket free kick to give Honduras a 1-0 lead against Mexico at Azteca. Are those "Fire Sven" chants I hear in Spanish?


PRE-GAME– If you were wondering about that police presence, here’s one look:



PRE-GAME– Yes, there are American fans here, and they’re not being shy:



PRE-GAME– Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole….Guate…..Guate……


PRE-GAME– The Americans have just taken the field for warm-ups and are being serenaded by an ear-splitting chorus of boos and thundersticks. Pretty impressive.


PRE-GAME– For those of you wondering, there is no rain right now and the field looks pretty good. I’m also enjoying the merengue music blaring from the sound system here. Not as good as the reggae in Kingston, but still good.


PRE-GAME– The internet connection has been spotty at best so apologies for the delays, and for any delays during the match.


PRE-GAME– Here is the USA lineup





Good to see Ching get the nod, his connecting with Donovan is well-documented. Also, Lewis gets the nod ahead of Beasley, who isn’t fully fit from his injury to start yet.


PRE-GAME– You really needed to see the display of military coordination put on by the army/security at the stadium. They created a human wall of riot shields and helmets as American players calmly passed through with headphones blaring. Don’t expect many of the U.S. players to be phased by this atmosphere. Okay, let’s face it, they’ll be fazed some, though they weren’t showing it before the game.

Someone must have given Guatamalan fans the traffic route the U.S. bus took to get here because there was a gauntlet of middle fingers and beer showers waiting for the bus as it neared the stadium. Extra credit to the American fans who were hanging out in the same area.


  1. It’s not Howard who sets the strategy for the game. That comes from Bradley. Bob was playing long ball tonight. That’s his call, not Timmy’s

  2. Howard was solid. He kept the US in the game, no doubt about it. He reads the attack extraordinarily well, which makes what he does after he gets the ball so frustrating. I can’t stand the long balls. Early on, and at two other points during the game it looked like the US was going to play smart, possession football, as Beasley did when he came on. And it worked. The US was a more skillful side. But the long punts, the panic clearances (and not just by Howard), and the goal kicks that carry half the field all played into Guatemala’s game and away from the US strengths. Time after time, Guatemala would have a scary attack, Howard would diffuse it, and then by booting it blindly he would pretty much give the ball back to them, albeit farther down the field.

    Howard is not alone. Conway for the NYRB does it too. As a tactic these long balls from the keeper are awful. It gives away the ball at least half the time, and since it is SOP, everyone’s waiting for it down field, which compacts the defense, which makes it difficult to open up and make some runs. I’m not saying it’s always wrong, just mix it up more.


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