Recap: USMNT 4–0 Guatemala

After an embarrassing 2-0 defeat in Guatemala City last Friday, the US tossed Guatemala aside on Tuesday night and won, 4–0. Before a friendly crowd in Columbus, the US was dominant, with four different scorers getting on the board.

It looked easy. Which inevitably leads one to ask, Why was it so hard on Friday?

First half

The US came out very aggressively, snapping at the Guatemalan players’ heels whenever without the ball, and looking to get forward whenever they had it. That aggression paid off in the 12th minute, when a long ball from Geoff Cameron in defense fell toward Gyasi Zardes, streaking across the center of the field from the right. He drew two defenders, but the ball fell kindly. Clint Dempsey followed the play and smacked the ball home with the outside of his right foot.

The US maintained possession in excess of 60% at times, and Guatemala looked nervous, failing to get a shot on goal of their own until the 33rd minute. It did not trouble Brad Guzan in the US goal, and the Americans would double their lead just minutes later. Bobby Wood did well to beat two defenders high on the left, but was taken down. Michael Bradley sent the resulting free kick just outside the six-yard box where Cameron met it and headed home, unmarked.

The US should have scored twice more, as their pressure relentlessly broke Guatemala down, but first Dempsey and then Wood couldn’t maintain their concentration at the critical moments, Dempsey passing behind trailing teammates as they steamed into the box, and Wood failing to put his shot on target after ghosting behind the Guatemala defense (though in fairness, the ball struck his arm, and the play should’ve been whistled dead.

Second half

Guatemala brought on Carlos Ruiz and Marco Pappa at the half in order to kickstart their offense, but the US shut the door immediately, scoring after just 20 seconds. DeAndre Yedlin cut inside high on the right and fed Zardes in the box. Zardes’s touch was poor, but Graham Zusi was following up and spanked the ball home with his left foot.

From that point, the US intensity dropped a little bit, which allowed Guatemala to hold more possession, but the away side never seriously threatened. Their best chance came in the 79th minute, but Guzan did well to get down and hold the shot.

In the 80th, Christian Pulisic came on and was officially cap-tied to the US.

In the 85th, substitute Ethan Finlay, playing in front of the Columbus crowd, was played in by fellow substitute Jozy Altidore. Finlay rounded the last defender and finished with aplomb, setting off loud celebrations by the player and the crowd, only for the goal to be called back incorrectly for offside.

As the game headed toward extra time, the US scored the cherry on top. A bad giveaway by Guatemala gave the ball to Dempsey. He drove into the box but was put under pressure. His cut back got away from him a bit, but Altidore was there to thump the ball into the top corner of the net.

US verdict

Starting lineup is sensible: Which begs the question, Why aren’t they all? Did Klinsmann disrespect Guatemala at home by tinkering needlessly? If this lineup is his do-or-die lineup, it would imply he did.

Yedlin looks good: Now playing regularly as a fullback for Sunderland, he looked at home and comfortable in that position, rather than in wide midfield as he was on Friday. It seems his move to England may be panning out.

Bradley amped: Bradley was in the ref’s face all night and eventually got a yellow card for a late tackle, which sees him miss the next game due to accumulation. It’s good to see Bradley fired up as a leader, but he could have dialed back with the US up big and not gotten the card.

Crisis averted: But why did it come to this. . .again? If the US can play this well and this way at home, there’s no reason they can’t do something more like it away from home, and that’s on Klinsmann.

Final thoughts

A big win brings big relief, but questions about the problems of the Klinsmann era will continue until the US can win like this consistently, and against better opposition. Still, it’s good to be so well poised to advance to the Hexagonal round.

1-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 21-Steve Birnbaum, 20-Geoff Cameron, 23-Edgar Castillo; 19-Graham Zusi (11-Christian Pulisic, 81), 15-Kyle Beckerman, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 7-Bobby Wood (17-Jozy Altidore, 66), 8-Clint Dempsey, 9-Gyasi Zardes (13-Ethan Finlay, 71)
Subs Not Used: 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Ventura Alvarado, 6-Lee Nguyen, 10-Mix Diskerud, 12-Tim Howard, 14-Michael Orozco, 16-Darlington Nagbe, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 22-David Bingham
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

12-Paulo Motta; 3-Cristian Jimenez, 5-Moises Hernandez, 8-Jean Marquez, 9-Gerson Tinoco (7-Luis Fernando Martinez, 74); 11-Mafre Icute (20-Carlos Ruiz, 46), 13-Carlos Castrillo, 14-Rafael Morales, 10-Jose Contreras; 18-Stefano Cincotta (16-Marco Pappa, 46), 22-Rodrigo Saravia
Subs Not Used: 1-Ricardo Jerez, 2-Jonathan Winibacker Lopez, 4-Hamilton Lopez, 6-Marco Rivas, 15-Luis Cardona, 17-Gerardo Arias, 19-Kevin Arriola, 21-Jose Carlos Garcia, 23-Edi Guerra
Head coach: Walter Claveri

Scoring Summary
USA – Clint Dempsey (Gyasi Zardes) 12th minute
USA – Geoff Cameron (Michael Bradley) 35
USA – Graham Zusi (Gyasi Zardes) 46
USA – Jozy Altidore (Clint Dempsey) 89

Misconduct Summary
GUA – Cristian Jimenez (caution) 34th minute
USA – Michael Bradley (caution) 71

Stats Summary (USA / GUA)
Shots: 6 / 4
Shots on Goal: 3 / 1
Saves: 1 / 0
Corner Kicks: 5 / 1
Fouls: 14 / 14
Offside: 6 / 0

Referee: Valdin Legister (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Lloyd Edwards (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Keble Williams (JAM)
4th Official: Karl Tyrell (JAM)

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium; Columbus, Ohio
Attendance: 20,624


  1. pragmatist says:

    Where the hell has this been?!?!?!
    Doesn’t change anyone’s opinion of JK or his performances, but this was encouraging. And a completely different team from Saturday.

    • Agreed… Tylenol resolved the fever… but the national identity is still laid low.
      I’d like to see more of the formation. I’d like to see less tinkering by the alchemist. I’d like to see the 22 and 23 year old set get more and more playing time– words words words yada yada yada.

  2. The main differences is that he played a holding midfielder and benched Orozco finally. He would be challenged to start for the Union.

  3. el Pachyderm says:


  4. Still more of the same USMNT song and dance. Crush lesser teams at home, struggle on the road, be just mediocre enough to justify keeping current management…
    BUT PULISIC! Please don’t ruin him Jurgen.

    • You could tell the kid really wanted a goal. Kinda felt bad for Pulisic when he was standing wide open and Altidore didn’t find him in space. But then Altidore scored… so can’t really fault him.

  5. Amazing what happens when players are playing in positions they are comfortable in.

  6. I can’t be the only one who was not only unimpressed by the result in this game but also upset at the complete lack of possession or calm by the U-23 team. This national team “leadership” and “coaching” is a joke, plain and simple.

    • The men played the best game I’ve seen in a long while… with arguably the finest, most incisive pass made by a United States player in ten years when Bradley curl-carved that little flat ball to Wood right on the 6 — then who promptly displayed the calm finishing skills of a wildebeest with a swollen hoof.
      I’d like more of the formation. Repeat, I’d like more of the formation.
      I’d like more of the youth. I’d like less Diskerud… I’d like never to see Shea again on the left because while Castillo showed nerves throughout the two games he also showed a level of LB class we seldom see.
      I’d like just one US player to show me the swagger and anger of Clint Dempsey who is almost about to retire- who is capable of right place right time to lift his country on his back.
      Again and again its always Clint Dempsey who shows his class and carries this team through the dark side streets.
      Is there one Alpha male in the pipelines? not on my radar… and to the point of your U23 comments on this USMNT article… there ain’t a one I’d bet money on.
      At least most of them got a college degree to fall back on…eh?

      • They played a good game against…..Guatemala…. at home…. at the only place they seem to ever play well anymore. I am tired of seeing anyone not named cameron, yedlin, besler, or johnson in this team. Dempsey is the only one willing to try things and he is like you said almost retired. Bobby Wood who I was impressed with prior to this game looked like a lost puppy when a chance came to him regardless of whether he handled the ball or not. Zardes is a phenomenal athlete with no real sense or purpose to his play who happened to get two accidental assists.
        MY whole point is while I enjoy watching a winning performance and especially one where we actually tried to high press and did so moderately successfully we are still so far off from doing this against even a mediocre opponent ( see the Ireland game last year) that its incredibly discouraging.
        My only hope was to see an organized and energetic U-23 team to give me hope that the future is better and boy what a letdown that was. That team had no idea how to play out from the back or in tight spaces, how to relieve pressure or recycle the ball. Just a gigantic cluster of awful that somehow only lost 2-1 to a team that should have destroyed us based on what I saw.
        Maybe I’m being too harsh but it sucks that all this promise that JK sold us on and that the US soccer program will be a world class organization is a giant crock of you know what.

      • Matty B… there is no way you are being too harsh.
        Yours is unrest and it is okay. This is the state of the game and don’t let anybody try to sell you otherwise.
        …major major major problems with the national teams that a professional league with its baby academy of average and boring players still getting college degrees is unable to solve.
        I say more of the same… clearly its working. Ah yes, we’ll qualify for the WC again. We’ll survive the GOD again, we’ll get butterflied buy a far superior team in first knockout round again and we will again be fed the same rhetoric and propaganda.
        I’m not buy. I’m not a fanboy. Don’t be one either. The revolution and its militia is growing… take up your musket… take up the fight with words.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        The Alpha male point is spot on. The USMNT has been pretty weak in this area for awhile and that’s probably lead to Klinsmann’s loyalty to Jermaine Jones who plays with this kind of edge.

        No matter what you think of Dempsey, every time that he steps on the pitch, he thinks he’s the best out there and plays like he wants to prove it. There are no current or future US players who have this edge and this worries me.

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    I think the Bradley second yellow was probably a good thing. Unless things have changed, yellow’s don’t get erased so he would have been sitting on one for the next 12 games (assuming they make the hex). Best game to miss is is SVG.

  8. It’s weird how playing people in their normal positions seems to work out. Odd. While they looked decent against a lesser opponent many of the options seen were not long term solutions. Beckerman is too slow, Dempsey has only flopping at any contact left in his arsenal (His goal was very soft, goalkeeper should have saved it). Zardes…ugh.

    On a side note, that was insanely cruel to have Finley’s goal disallowed. I felt so bad for him. Would have been so nice for him to get one for the US in front of Columbus fans.

    • Credit where its due, Zardes drew the two defenders and somehow shouldered it to space.. lucky as it may have been his athleticism, not intellect solved that problem and the clinical run of the mill finish from a player who has made a career of not Wondo-ing the routine – did what he always does— finished with a flat laced rocket curling on the away… building consensus and comfort and giving space and pause and a deep deep breath to the nation waiting for some form of reply from this team. Clint Dempsey provided it.
      Clint Dempsey is beyond reproach IMO. He is most certainly NOT the problem. He’s about the only national team player with a sack and the moxie to back his anger.
      We do know that playing with anger is okay right?
      Friends of suburban affluent children playing the game so so happy and content to get back to their iPhones and Xboxes their 2,400 Sq foot homes single bedrooms multileveled houses of happiness? I love Clint Dempsey. He’s miserable on the field till he sticks a shank in you… then smiles.
      Anger is okay. Venom. Malice as the Brazilians say?

      • pragmatist says:

        A lot of athletes in this country play with an intense anger. Problem is, they are playing basketball, football, hockey, and baseball.
        It’s a decades-old argument: get those kids to take up soccer, and keep at it, and you’ll see the improvements you seek.

      • Agreed.

        I’d be really ok never seeing Castillo suit up again.

        And maybe it’s time, especially in the May friendlies, for a young keeper to play. Howard is sunsetting and Guzan’s play, where once a challenge to Howard, is not inspiring.

        Wood messed up that opportunity but was at least a bit dangerous. Jozy certainly doesn’t instill fear. I liked Beckerman in 2014, but he’s sliding down that age slope. He shouldn’t play in May. Show me Kitchen. Or anyone.

        I’m thinking I’m going to spend a lot of money to watch them struggle with Paraguay.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        I recently read Das Reboot and one of the interesting tidbits was when Michael Ballack was injured before the 2010 World Cup, the German team was concerned to not have his presence. This was a supremely talented German side with world class players at each position. Yet, they wondered if they could do well without their strong willed captain even though he was clearly on the downward slope of his career and was primarily known as a player who never won trophies, but always finished runner-up. It’s because Ballack was a strong character who would either get in an opponent’s or teammate’s face when needed to be done.

        Aside from Dempsey, this US team doesn’t have a character like that.

  9. Spot on Pach. Do question some others. I thought Yedlin was quite good and Castillo quite bad.The rest, somewhere in between,
    except Dempsey and Bradley they were goodest.

  10. The Little Fish says:

    Looked like USMNT guys played as if their life depended on the win. Not sure why this always seems to be the exception to the rule. Zusi and Bradley were truly outstanding!

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