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U.S. settles for 1-1 draw at Guatemala

Jones (Getty)


Before Tuesday's trip to Guatemala City, a 1-1 draw might have seemed like an acceptable outcome for the U.S. national team. The Americans, after all, knew they would be facing a hostile environment and desperate opponent. But as it turned out, the result left much to be desired.

Guatemala substitute Marco Pappa's superb 83rd-minute free kick negated Clint Dempsey's first-half tally as the U.S. settled for the tie, moving to 1-0-1 in the semifinal stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The U.S. currently sits atop its group, level with Jamaica at four points but ahead on goal differential.

After controlling the match for long stretches in the opening stanza, the U.S. struggled to hold off Guatemala's second-half surge, conceding several opportunities before finally getting burned by Pappa's equalizer.

Stepping over a 25-yard free kick following Fabian Johnson's foul on Carlos Ruiz, the Chicago Fire midfielder curled a left-footed shot over the U.S. wall and past a motionless Tim Howard.

The U.S. went ahead in the 40th minute when Dempsey collected a pass from Johnson, evaded the flailing tackles of two Guatemalan defenders, and slotted a low shot into the back of the net for his 27th international goal and second in as many games.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann offered no surprises in his starting 11, using the same lineup that picked up a 3-1 win over Antigua & Barbuda on Friday with the exception of Johnson, who returned from a calf injury.

Coming off a 2-1 loss to Jamaica to open the stage, Guatemala failed to find much cohesion going forward in the first half, often falling into a defend-and-counter strategy and looking to earn set pieces in the attacking third. The Americans, meanwhile, struggled to find the final ball until Dempsey broke the deadlock.

The strike came just moments after Guatemala had a chance at the other end, with Howard turning away an angled blast from Carlos Figueroa.

Klinsmann used his first swap at the start of the second half, bringing center back Geoff Cameron on for Clarence Goodson, who had picked up a yellow card. Guatemala, on the other hand, used all three of its substitutions, adding attackers Pappa, Manuel Leon and Dwight Pezzarossi.

The gamble paid off. Guatemala found increased confidence going forward as the half went on, and the home side should have leveled the score in the 68th minute. Mario Rodriguez forced a stellar save from Howard off a corner kick and the rebound fell straight to Ruiz, but the veteran striker skied his point-blank rebound effort over the bar.

The U.S. will return to World Cup qualifying in September, with a pair of matches against Jamaica: Sept. 7 in Kingston and Sept. 11 in Columbus, Ohio.


  1. Couldn’t agree more with you on Boca. All he knows is to play the ball over the top from the back. It’s like watching paint dry.

  2. “or a center mid to stay back while everyone pushes up and in” – this is exactly the type of 4-3-3 we play, except i don’t understand why “everyone” need to push inward. the full backs and the wingers are the ones providing the width and staying wide. while jones, bradley and gomez are staying central. of course, like JK wants, players are changing positions as they play to go with the flow of the game.

    as for beckerman, agree to disagree, i’m not going to have this argument again.

    for bradley, he is good going forward, but he has played just fine in a RCM/LCM spot, creating chances going forward and getting back to help on D. in a 4-3-2-1, either the LCM or RCM will essentially be acting as a CAM. i feel like you are getting way too caught up in position labels and not realizing that while he is technically playing as a RCM, he is clearly alternating with Jones as what you refer to as a CAM.

    Dolo, agreed man. i think he has one more season in germany before coming back home. these games showed me that while he is still solid, and should be starting in a group like this, he needs to have a replacement ready to go. i hope that is lichaj (or chandler…).

    Torres, no, he never got to play as a CM. and he was played out of position basically the entire time. him and Williams.

    best CDM, tough to say. but i would go with Williams or Jones. not because Bradley isn’t as good, but because i want him in that RCM/LCM spot. but i disagree they were stepping on each others toes. well, they kind of were in the Brazil game during the first half, and certainly against Canada. but we have seen what they can do when they are playing correctly. last night it was obvious that Edu was the CDM and that Jones or Bradley would drop back to help (if needed) with the other staying up a little to be an outlet.

    agree 100% with your positives.

  3. Cameron is on the bench ready to go. So is Onyewu. If Onyewu isn’t fit (which I don’t think he is yet) why does he get a pass? He shouldn’t be there if he isn’t ready. Hopefully he will be soon.
    In a 433 where the outside backs are attacking, you need a center mid to push up and attack while the outside mids drop back and in to cover…or a center mid to stay back while everyone pushes up and in. I think with the current roster we could do either, but I like the first option…and yes I think Beckerman would be better at that than Edu. I also think that Bradley is showing that he may be a better option at CAM than at CDM RCM LCM or CM.
    Very concerned about Dolo keeping up in an attacking outside back role…especially in 2 more years.
    I have no idea how Torres would be at CM LCM RCM because he never got to play in his natural position.
    I have no idea who is the best CDM because we had three stepping on each other in every match. Consequently no one really ever played that position in a normal sense.
    I really don’t think we have learned much because so many players have been asked to play outside their normal positions.
    Gomez has great instincts and aside from an in form Donovan or Dempsey, seems to clearly provide the biggest threat
    Fabian Johnson looks legit.

  4. 1. Agreed. But if you were discussing players on the roster, then it’s a moot point since we didn’t really have anyone to groom. Castillo I guess, but he got injured.
    2. Ok, but again, with our roster, that WAS the best midfield given our injuries. I’m sorry, but the idea that Beckerman would be better than Edu doesn’t make sense to me. And Corona, who I like, was not ready to start. But I agree he should have come in for Edu with Jones sliding back.

  5. I don’t really have a problem with that line up too much. But I based my line up on who was actually available to play in the game and the 4-3-3 that JK is clearly leaning toward (and went with).
    My point is really.
    1) Groom new backs.
    2.) Anything but jones,edu,bradley as the entire midfield. Which is what we have been seeing other than one appearance by torres as a mid

  6. i’m sorry, but you are in the wrong on this one. your opinion is your opinion, that’s fine. but you are clealry in the minority on this one.

    who cares where the assists come from?!?! i do! that’s a very important stat dude. Jones has played well in more than just the Scotland game. i’m not even sure how my comment made you think i was even using the Scotland game as an example. we’re not talking about LD. i alos never called him a creator, did i? but he HAS been creating, thus, the assessment he is ineffective is WRONG. and then your counter point is he was lucky?!?! that’s not an argument for your point. and i agree about his ball dribbling skills, which is why i said the exact same thing and said that continues to be his weakness.

    he is an enforcer on his club team, he is there to clean everything up and commit fouls and take a yellow. everyone thought it was just his style, but as we have seen, he can be more than just an enforcer who gets cards. to say he is the opposite of what our midfield needs is truly ridiculous.

  7. i’m sorry, but to argue Edu should sit and Beckerman take his place is silly. we should be trying Williams in that role. or moving Jones back there and having someone like Corona, Torres, or Adu play one of the more offensive mids.

    i just think it’s ridiculous to complain about defensive mids and then put out a 4-2-x-x line up. i would also never play Corona in the slot you have him in.

    to me, our best lineup (still a 4-3-2-1) would be something like what is below. ( ) = players who i wouldn’t mind either:

    ST: Gomez (Jozy)
    LW: LD (Adu/Shea), RW: Dempsey
    LCM: Corona (Torres/Castillo), CDM: Jones (Williams), RCM: Bradley (Chandler)
    LB: Johnson, LCB: Boca, RCB: Goodson (Cameron, Gooch), RB: Dolo (Lichaj/Chandler)
    GK: Howard

    i went ahead and included Chandler because this is a “what i would like to see” list.

  8. I have no idea if it is or not…and neither does anyone else, because we’ve never seen anything close to it. I don’t think it’s a better starting defense, but I think it’s extremely important to start getting more players experience at fullback. I would be ok with just about any midfield combination over the 3 man with bradley and jones wide. My example calls for 1 different defender and 2 different midfielders. It’s not exactly drastic.
    Also, anyone who bases their opinion EXCLUSIVELY on USMNT performance can’t possibly conclude that Edu is a better option than Beckerman as a traditional center mid.

  9. You could easily tell Altidore is rusty…He wasn’t continuing runs off the ball that may have been goalscoring chances with passes going no where when attempted as he didn’t run into space….Darn you AZ Alkmaar!….I was disappointed with Howard being frozen on the Guatemala goal….He didn’t even try…

  10. who cares where the assists come from? and I also don’t really care about what anyone did in the Scotland match. You think Donovan or Jones has played well aside from that match? No. You honestly think jones is a “creator” because he lucked up on a few assists? His ball skills are dreadful. He’s an enforcer. He’s the exact opposite of what the midfield needs.

  11. absolutely. he just needs to get out of LA and i hope he can go to Everton. i honestly think that’ll get him back into the game.

  12. i agree with most of what you said, but you are being overly critical about the chances on goal. we put two goals in the back of the net before they put one in. we were screwed by the ref on the second goal. if we go up 2-0, we go home with 3 points and a clean sheet and everyone would be talking about how great of a game it was.


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