USMNT Continues World Cup Qualifying vs. Guatemala

USMNT training

Friday night, the United States will resume their quest for World Cup qualification against Guatemala. The Stars and Stripes currently have four points through their first two games of qualifying after thrashing St. Vincent & the Grenadines 6-1 and drawing against Trinidad & Tobago. Guatemala, on the other hand, are just a point behind their guests after beating St. Vincent but losing to T&T. On paper, the U.S. have the players and star power to take all three points in Central America, but it’s never been easy for the team to get results away from home.

Earlier this week, Jürgen Klinsmann told reporters that Bobby Wood, who is currently playing in the German second division with Union Berlin, must make the move up to the Bundesliga if he hopes to be involved with in this summer’s Copa América. The Hawaiian forward currently leads Union Berlin in goals with 14 and is the third highest goal scorer in all of 2. Bundesliga. Wood has scored some big goals for the national team including game-winners against the Netherlands and Germany, but players like Jozy Altidore, Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey have limited his chances. A solid performance against “weaker” competition would help the 23-year-old’s chances of either making a reported move to Hamburg or just making the U.S. squad for this summer.

One position that has posed problems for Klinsmann’s squad in the past has been the fullbacks. Other than Fabian Johnson, who has now been moved into more of a midfield role, the U.S. have lacked a consistently reliable wing defender. Timothy Chandler was supposed to provide the team with some much needed talent, but he never really found his footing in Klinsmann’s system. For this round of fixtures, the team will rely on the likes of DeAndre Yedlin, Edgar Castillo and Ventura Alvarado to protect the flanks, but I think the competition for starting spots is still wide open. Against a scrappy Guatemalan team, the U.S. will need a stout defense to win all three points on Friday.

The most experienced player in the Guatemalan lineup has to be striker Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz currently holds the national record for appearances (125) and goals (56). In this round of qualifying, the 36-year-old has started every game of Guatemala’s qualifying campaign, but has only found the back of the net once. If the hosts have any chance of stealing a win from Friday’s match, Ruiz will probably be depended on for the goal. While he may be past his prime, Ruiz has punished the U.S. before and if the Americans don’t take this game seriously he still has the ability to do it again.

I think that the likely strategy for Walter Claveri’s men will be to park the bus and hope for a quick counter attacking or set piece goal. The busiest man for the Guatemalans will be goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez. The 30-year-old has been Guatemala’s first choice goalkeeper for all of their recent major tournaments, but he hasn’t shown the ability to perform against some of the bigger teams in the region. The last time these two teams played, Jerez’s teammate Paulo Motta was beaten four times in a humiliating 4-0 defeat. Can he improve upon that result and put in a shift that keeps Guatemala within touching distance throughout the match?

Even with the Americans’ defensive frailties, I still think that they have the talent to take care of business in Guatemala City. Look out for the U.S. strikers to try and make an impression in a possibly high scoring affair. Final Score: Guatemala 1-3 U.S.A.


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About the author: Collin Carpio


I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.


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