The US Men’s National Team will leave Guatemala disappointed, as a late goal left them with just a single point earned in their visit to Guatemala City. However, the draw can be considered a fairly good result for the US, as they are still in the lead of Group A due to Jamaica’s surprising away tie against Antigua & Barbuda.
The United States came into the game facing a fierce Guatemalan crowd, who were anticipating their most difficult and exciting match of the CONCACAF qualifiers. The match began with a US team who had more possession of the ball, but in reality both teams were playing fairly defensive styles which limited the attacking opportunities. After few productive plays on either sides, the United States was able to score a goal in the last minutes of the first half (40th minute). Fabian Johnson ran down the left side of the pitch and accurately passed the ball to Dempsey’s feet; he then juked two Guatemala defenders and scored an excellent goal.
The second half started with Marco Papa subbing in for the Guatemalan side, his introduction to the pitch had a positive effect on the Guatemalan attack. Guatemala had several attacking opportunities, even having a very clear scoring opportunity that Pescadito Ruiz missed. An 82nd minute foul at the top of the box let Marco Papa score an amazing free kick goal that tied up the game and excited the home crowd.
This leaves the US with four points, and atop of Group A; Guatemala gets its first point of the CONCACAF qualifiers and finds itself in third place. The US will face Jamaica in a home-and-away series in September that will define who becomes the undisputed leader of Group A. The perfect combination of results would leave the US in first place and with a spot in the final round of the qualifiers. Guatemala will face Antigua & Barbuda two times in September, it will need to make up for the poor results so far, and needs to get two wins against the island nation if it wants to retain hopes to move on to the next round of the qualifiers.
Summary: The USA shouldn’t be too disappointed with the tie, as they are still in control of their destiny. Plus, playing a CONCACAF qualifier match in Central America is never easy, and anytime the USMNT comes back with any points can be considered a decent result. Guatemala should also be happy with their result, as it leaves them within striking distance of the first and second place spots, which it could reach if it achieves good results against Antigua & Barbuda in September.