The USA vs Guatemala Group A CONCACAF qualifying match will be held on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 7:15 PM EDT at the LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City. Both teams would clinch a berth to the final round of the qualifiers with a draw, and might even move on with a loss, pending the result between the Jamaica vs Antigua and Barbuda game. However, the USMNT should be looking for a win against Guatemala that would redeem their terrible performance in Antigua. Will the USA achieve a home victory that revitalizes the squad?
To put it plain and simple, the USMNT has had a bad qualifying experience: in away matches the US has tied in Guatemala, lost in Jamaica, and barely pulled off a late victory over Antigua and Barbuda. At home, the US got the job done against Antigua and Barbuda, and Jamaica, but never looked good doing it. These results are quite disappointing, considering the amount of talent on the squad (specially when compared to the other teams).
The most shocking part for me is the lack of outrage from the USMNT fans and media. Had Chepo de la Torre accumulated similar results with the Mexican National team, he would have been let go already. Why should the USMNT settle with Klinsmann? Traveling is hard in CONCACAF, the pitch is never good, it’s always raining, the fans are nuts, and all teams play the USA as though it were the World Cup final. All that should not matter. Klinsmann has a roster filled with talent that is far superior to what any Caribbean or Central American side can boast.
If Klinsmann thinks this qualifying round was tough, he is in for a shocker. The hexagonal round will be much harder, with the potential venues being: Panama, Canada/Honduras, Guatemala/Jamaica, Mexico and Costa Rica. If results under Klinsmann continue being the same, we can expect to see a USMNT that might get no away wins, relying fully on home results. If it were up to me, I would start looking for a new coach.
With all that said, the USMNT will still qualify to the hexagonal round, as I simply don’t believe Guatemala is capable of defeating the USA in Kansas City. And I seriously hope that Klinsmann gets his stuff together come hexagonal qualifying time, as we can’t risk having a Olympic qualifier style fiasco (yea, remember that happened).
The Guatemalan squad had a must-win game last Friday at home against Jamaica, and they achieved the necessary 2-1 victory thanks to a late goal from Pescadito Ruiz. Though technically limited, the Guatemalan squad has demonstrated to be a hard-working, tenacious team that can get the job done when necessary. Expect the Guatemalans to park the bus and look for the draw.
Prediction: The USA vs Guatemala match will not be as intense as the game we witnessed in Guatemala City. Both teams know they can move on to the next round with a draw, and I suspect they will play accordingly. Neither team will want to risk too much on the attack due to the fear of counterattacks, and losing a game that jeopardizes their qualifying chances. The USA vs Guatemala match will end in a 0-0 draw that ensures both teams get to play in the hexagonal round.
Television: The USA vs Guatemala match will be televised on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 7:15 PM EDT on ESPN 2, ESPN3.com and Telefutura (Spanish).
Note: Come back to FutnSoccer.com after the match, we will have a recap and highlights available around 20 minutes after the game ends.