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USMNT embracing Columbus aura ahead of Guatemala clash

Photo by Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports

With the team’s World Cup qualifying status all but on the line, the U.S. Men’s National Team returns to a familiar fortress for what is certainly a must-win matchup.

Following a 2-0 loss in Guatemala City, the USMNT is set to host the Central American nation on Tuesday in Columbus’ MAPFRE Stadium. Throughout the years, the venue has prove to be a safe haven for the U.S. who has established  a 7-0-3 all-time record and 6-0-2 World Cup qualifying record at the stadium.

In the aftermath of a setback loss to Guatemala, the U.S. is certainly embracing a return to a stadium that has prove to be a magical one.

“When you look back at the history, there’s something special here,” Michael Bradley said. “There’s a bit of mystique. I think teams come here and know a little bit about that history and look at our record when we play here and know that they’re going to be in for a tough night.

“For us, we’re very excited to step on the field tomorrow night for a big game here and we hope that the fans, from the time step on the field for warm-ups, can give us a real boost in terms of energy, life, passion and make this a place that, from the time they get here, Guatemala knows they’re not coming away with anything.”

Historically, MAPFRE Stadium has proven to be a stronghold for the U.S. in some of the country’s biggest games. The venue has hosted four separate Dos A Cero victories over arch-rivals Mexico, as well as a victory over Jamaica in the last World Cup qualifying cycle that came just four days after a USMNT loss in Kingston.

Similarly to the Jamaica clash, the USMNT enters Tuesday’s contest looking for a bit of revenge after a defeat away from home. However, the 1-0 victory over the Caribbean nation isn’t the only game from last cycle that the U.S. is studying with the hopes of replicating.

In the final game of the group stages in 2012, the U.S. found themselves trailing to Guatemala at another traditional fortress in Kansas City. Following Carlos Ruiz’s fifth minute goal, the U.S. exploded with three of their own to seal passage into the Hexagonal.

“The team was able to create some good chances and we were able to get the right result,” Dempsey said of that matchup. “It’s not new to be in this situation of having our back against the wall. It’s what we’ve experienced. We played against Jamaica, we lost, and we also came here to Columbus. We came home for a must-win game against Guatemala in Kansas City. That’s just a part of the World Cup qualifying process, those ups and downs, and managing them in the right way. When your back is against the wall, it’s being able to get the right result.

“It’s a venue that’s had a lot of good history for us,” Dempsey added.  “That’s why we continue to come back and play these games here. We’ve been in this situation before and we have to prove ourselves again and we look forward to doing it again here at this venue.”

Once again facing a must-win situation, the USMNT is hoping to replicate successes past in an attempt to push towards a bright future. A berth in the 2018 World Cup is far from certain and another lackluster performance could prove costly.

Knowing the stakes, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side is glad to be in a familiar venue, one that should provide the team with a much-needed boost in what may turn out to be the most pivotal game of the qualifying process.

“Playing for us in Columbus is special,” Klinsmann said. “Every game here is special to us because there is such history for the U.S. national team to play their games in Columbus, especially obviously with Mexico. Any important matchup in a World Cup qualifier is huge, and to be here in Columbus gives us a good feeling because we know the crowd is behind us and they will help us, especially maybe if things don’t go your way.

“You have to know in the back of your mind to give everything you have for the opportunity to beat them tomorrow. It helps to be in Columbus.”


  1. This is what our national team has been reduced to — relying heavily on Columbus aura to beat Guatemala, ranked 95th in the world. Thank you, herr Klinsmann!

  2. Very often , there can be no progress without creative destruction( an economic theory), And the short term pain allows the longer term gain to manifest itself more quickly allowing more rapid positive growth. The suffering is in protracting the inevitable, like a tooth ache. It might go away for a while,like a win against Guatemala,but it will not cure itself and will return. Nothing personal here, I am too old for that, but I am willing to NOT be selfish and am willing to miss out on a World Cup in order to expedite the necessary transition and recovery.

  3. Who would have thought the USMNT would be in a position where they needed a win against Guatemala in the 2nd-to-last qualifying round?! The USMNT is so bad right now. They are hard to watch.

  4. Missing the Cup would allow for the introspection needed to realize why Gulati and Klinsman are so wrong for the USA , and how we have to take back our national program. We have a lot of talented soccer people here who can do better than this, regardless of the outcome tomorrow. Otherwise we have to wait till 2018 to get rid of these guys. How sad for Iggy to equate the USA lack of success to perhaps a lucky bounce. WE should easily win. bad bounces or not.surely we are not that bad, are we?

    • You sound as if you want the US to lose so, beacause it will be worth it. That is so wrong on so many fronts. First, its the spoiled brat mentality. I dont get what I want so I want everyone to suffer. Secondly, the damage that would do to the momentum the game has in the US right now, could be huge, could be. Thirdly, when does a fan ever say “I am rooting against my team.” If its your team, you are engaged fully. You dont want to miss out on anything, like a WC. Finally, I repeat point #3 because your mentality is so horribly stupid. Thanks rant over.

  5. Missing a world cup would be unthinkable for US Soccer with the amount of growth it’s had within the past 10 years.

    I can’t begin to imagine how big of a step back it would be if we didn’t qualify. It’s not about us not being good enough etc. for a country like ours who thrives on competing in sports and how much the country jumps on soccer bandwagon every four years, it would really suck to miss it

    • it would be catastrophic. We are however, only an unlucky bounce, call, or two away from that being a reality in a couple of days. Hopefully a big win is in store tomorrow.

      • Honestly would be the biggest shock. And the silver lining I guess would be that it would really show just how big soccer has become in America. But lord I hope we get it together and win this game

    • Better footballing nations have missed out on qualifying. That said, given the competition there would be nobody else to blame but ourselves if we fail.

      Final round is still a hex, right? Top 2 teams from each group qualify? If that is going to be easy (i.e. first place) then tomorrow’s game is fairly big – almost must win. We still get Trinidad at home and should beat St. Vincent, so jumping ahead of Guatemala in the standings with this one is important (they also get those two teams but opposite locations in August/Sept).

      Trinidad should finish group play with 10 points (mostly due to their upset of Guatemala and Guatemala won’t be assured of anything so will play to beat Trinidad in August) but even should we lose, 11 points are still attainable (just not pretty for sure).

    • Many top nations have missed a world cup, either just after (Holland ‘2014) or just prior to (France ’98) going really far in one. If this is catastrophic, it is only because the United States is a developing soccer culture and a fragile one at that. But in that case, we don’t qualify because we are simply not deserving this time around, which is a victory for sports.


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