March 29, 2016
By Charles Cuttone
U.S. pounds Guatemala, 4-0, in World Cup qualifier
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The United States kept its World Cup qualifying hopes alive with a convincing 4-0 win over Guatemala at MAPFRE Stadium Tuesday night.
|Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore celebrate after Altidore scored the capper in the USA's 4-0 win over Guatemala on Tuesday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
While a loss would not have eliminated the U.S. outright, it would have made booking a trip to Russia 2018 a tough task. The win gave the U.S. (2-1-1) seven points in the qualifying group, one ahead of Guatemala (2-2-0, 6), with two games remaining, against Trinidad and Tobago at home and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines away. The Americans trail T&T in the group by three points, following the Reggae Boys' 6-0 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tuesday.
Perhaps the first indication that that outcome of the game would be different than Friday night's 2-0 loss to Los Chapines in Guatemala City came in the 12th minute. A ball over the defense was redirected by Gyasi Zardes, despite his being double teamed by two Guatemalan defenders. The ball fell right in the path of Clint Dempsey, who was making a trailing run, and he slammed it past goalkeeper Paulo Motta.
The goal was the 14th lifetime in World Cup qualifying for Dempsey, but more importantly, it set the tone for the U.S., who gave up two goals in the first 15 minutes Friday.
The U.S. did a much better job of possessing the ball and creating a focused attack than it did Friday, and it paid off again in the 35th minute. This time, after winning a free kick on the left side, it was Geoff Cameron scoring, nodding in a header off Michael Bradley’s service.
Cameron’s goal set off chants of "Dos-A-Cero" in part of MAPFRE Stadium, but this was not a game against Mexico, and the U.S., which was clearly embarrassed by the previous result, was not content to settle for only two goals.
It took the Americans less than a minute into the second half to make it tres a cero. Zardes put a ball into the area, and Graham Zusi, a late addition to the U.S. roster, put the ball to the far post.
After a goal by second-half sub Ethan Finlay was called back in the 86th minute for offside, the U.S. made it 4-0 when Hozy Altidore drilled home a shot that was poked away from Dempsey in the 89th minute.
Maybe it was the thought of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, or maybe it was the increasingly loud calls for the head of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, but the U.S. controlled Tuesday's game throughout and created numerous scoring chances.
Klinsmann, who was criticized for lineup choices last Friday, seemed to make the right calls Tuesday, and used his three subs to give the U.S. some fresh legs, sending in Altidore in the 66th, Finlay in the 77th and using his last sub in the 80th minute to cap-tie Christian Pulisic.