A lackluster start combined with a dream start for home side Guatemala spelled disaster for the USMNT as it suffered a 2-0 defeat to Guatemala for the first time since 1988 Friday night at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City.
The visitors were lethargic in their defensive organization and marking. The U.S. back line of Geoff Cameron at right back, central defenders Omar Gonzalez and Michael Orozco and Edgar Castillo at left back looked out of synch and hesitant when it came to on and off ball marking. It took Guatemala just seven minutes to take advantage of the USMNT’s defensive disarray.
After earning two consecutive corner kicks, Guatemala’s Rafael Morales rose high in the box and snapped Jean Marquez’s corner kicker past yankee netminder Tim Howard for the 1-0 lead. The U.S. defensive woes continued and Guatemala made them pay again in the the 15th minute when Carlos Ruiz split the U.S. back line to get on the end of Pablo Motta’s goal kick, before slipping the ball past Howard to give the Los Chapines the two-goal advantage.
“I think it was a lack of focus, concentration, and wrong decisions,” U.S. head coach Klinsmann said after the game. “We have to take responsibility for it, every one of us, coaches, players, and move on and get it done on Tuesday.”We always said that World Cup qualifying is a long road, a tricky road, a difficult road.”
The U.S. had several chances to get back in the game but Guatemala goalkeeper Paul Motta closed the door every time the visitors came knocking. Clint Dempsey had two good right footed shots that where saved by Motta to preserve the win, one in the 52nd minute and the other in the 57th. Motta ‘s last act of brilliance was an 82nd minute save of a low laser beam shot by U.S. forward Jozy Altidore to preserve the shutout and send the home fans in a state of delirium.
The loss to Guatemala puts the USMNT in a must win situation when the two teams finish the two game 2018 World Cup Qualifying series on Tuesday, March 29 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, where the USMNT will host Guatemala at 7 p.m. ET with the game broadcast on ESPN2, UniMas and UDN.
USA: 12-Tim Howard; 20-Geoff Cameron, 3-Omar Gonzalez (17-Jozy Altidore, 66), 14-Michael Orozco (9-Gyasi Zardes, 59), 23-Edgar Castillo; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 10-Mix Diskerud (16-Darlington Nagbe, 46), 11-Alejandro Bedoya; 8-Clint Dempsey, 7-Bobby Wood
Subs Not Used: 1-Brad Guzan; 5-Matt Besler, 6-Lee Nguyen, 13-Ethan Finlay, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Ventura Alvarado, 21-Steve Birnbaum, 22-William Yarbrough
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
GUA: 12-Paulo Motta; 3-Cristian Jimenez, 4-Hamilton Lopez, 5-Moises Hernandez, 8-Jean Marquez, 9-Gerson Tinoco, 10-Jose Contreras (13-Carlos Castrillo, 71), 14-Rafael Morales, 18-Stefano Cincotta (16-Marco Pappa, 46), 20-Carlos Ruiz (17-Gerardo Arias, 89), 22-Rodrigo Saravia
Subs Not Used: 1-Ricardo Jerez, 2-Jonathan Winibacker Lopez, 6-Marco Rivas, 7-Luis Fernando Martinez, 11-Mafre Icute, 15-Luis Cardona 19-Kevin Arriola, 21-Jose Carlos Garcia, 23-Edi Guerra
Head coach: Walter Claveri