USA at Guatemala in World Cup qualifying Tuesday night
After a less than impressive 3-1 victory to open 2014 World Cup qualifying against Antigua & Barbuda on Friday, the Americans figure to get a much bigger test on Tuesday night at Guatemala. The USA is a -175 favorite on WagerWeb.com.
U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra tied the all-time scoring mark for U.S. defenders with his 13th career goal on Friday, matching the mark set by National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Marcelo Balboa. Clint Dempsey’s penalty kick conversion in the 44th minute proved to be the game-winner, with Herculez Gomez added his fourth career goal in the second half. Dempsey is the first USA player to score in multiple games this year, following up his game-winning goal against Italy on Feb. 29, and now has scored more than one goal for the MNT in every year since 2005.
Friday’s victory won’t give the US team much momentum heading into Guatemala. A team with as many veterans as the United States shouldn’t need momentum. The Americans could wind up fielding as many as seven starters on Tuesday who started against Guatemala when these teams met in World Cup qualifying four years ago. The USA won that game 1-0, their first victory in Guatemala in 20 years.
“We still have to move the ball quickly and we still have to take our chances when they come,” said Dempsey. “We’re still a work in progress. We’re still trying to figure out what our best formation is. What our best 11 is. We’ve got the games coming up to prove it.
“We’ve got to win away from home if we’re going to qualify for the World Cup and that starts with the next game.”
Guatemala won Group E in the Second Round with a perfect 6-0-0 record and 18 points. The 12-point advantage over Group E’s second-place Belize was the greatest margin of victory among all of the CONCACAF second-round groups. Guatemala outscored its opposition by an impressive 19-3 margin, including two shutouts against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Guatemala opened the Semifinal Round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying with a 2-1 loss to Jamaica on June 8 in Kingston, Jamaica.
Guatemala’s all-time leading scorer with 49 career goals, Carlos Ruiz scored 24 goals for Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy in 2002, leading the team to the MLS Cup and garnering MLS MVP honors that year. Ruiz also played for Toronto FC in 2008 and the Philadelphia Union in 2011 before making the move to Veracruz.
Guatemala progressed to the CONCACAF Final Round during qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but Guatemala could not advance further. The team is still in search of its first FIFA World Cup appearance.