March 29, 2016
By Charles Cuttone
MONKEY OFF THEIR BACKS - FOR NOW
Rout of Guatemala eases pressure on MNT, Klinsmann
COLUMBUS, Ohio—The United States Men’s National Team got a cure for what ails it. A game in Columbus, and a 4-0 win over Guatemala at MAPFRE Stadium.
|Gyasi Zardes collects the first of his two assists in the USA's 4-0 win over Guatemala on Tuesday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
“A very clear message that we are on top of the game, and we are in the driver’s seat again,” said coach Jurgen Klinsmann who came under fire after Friday’s 2-0 loss in Guatemala, in which they played horribly from the get-go.
“It’s crucial. If we didn’t win tonight, we were going to be in a real tough spot. Now we’re sitting better, but we’ve still got work to do,” said Clint Dempsey. “We learned about ourselves and a lot about the character of this team by how we were able to bounce back with that pressure.”
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 Dempsey, who was making a trailing run, and he slammed it past goalkeeper Paulo Motta.
“I thought the commitment and the willingness of every guy to step on the field and spill their guts on the field, that was the difference,” said U.S. Captain Michael Bradley. “To get a moment like this and you play in big games, often times its not necessarily the little details or the football things that make a difference, its mentality, it’s the commitment, the determination from every guy, to just give everything, and I thought we had everybody do that tonight.”
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 Jozy Altidore drilled home a shot off a ball that was poked away from Dempsey in the 89th minute.
“It was a huge response from us, “ said midfielder Kyle Beckerman. “Sure, there was pressure, but nothing we’ve never been in before.”
The pressure might be off for a while, but the U.S. is still a long way off from qualifying for the World Cup. This group stage was supposed to be the easy part.