USA vs. Guatemala preview: USMNT prepare for must-win game in Columbus

usa-guatemala

Friday night’s 2-0 loss to Guatemala was just the latest in a year and a half long string of disappointing and ugly results for the US. The sense of cautious optimism of Friday morning and afternoon (especially after the U-23 team managed to earn a 1-1 draw in Colombia) was all gone after seven minutes. The US now has what almost amounts to a must win game, once again against Guatemala. If the US fails to win this game, they could be left not only needing to win their remaining three qualifiers, but also need help from St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

Every single player for the USMNT looked awful Friday night, plain and simple. And try as he might, there really is no way for Jurgen Klinsmann to sugarcoat this latest loss. At this point in Klinsmann’s tenure (four and a half years), the US really should not be anywhere close to the position it’s in. If the US loses to Guatemala again, there is a very real possibility that the US might not even qualify for the Hex, let alone the World Cup. And while a number of fans have been calling for Klinsmann’s head for almost a year, the consensus has been that his job will only really be in jeopardy if World Cup qualification is in doubt. With this latest loss, the US sits third in a group from which only the top two teams advance. It is somewhat interesting that the US has started this semi-final round of qualifying exactly the same way they started it in 2012 (a home win followed by a road draw followed by a shock road loss, and then playing that same team in Columbus a few days alter). It should be noted that in 2012, the US bounced back and won their next three qualifiers.

As expected, Guatemala came out of the gates with guns blazing. Maybe it was the extra week of preparation, maybe it was home field advantage, maybe it was having their World Cup hopes on the line. Whatever it was, they were up 2-0 after 15 minutes and the US never recovered. Former MLS man Carlos Ruiz was everywhere for Guatemala Friday night, but one place he won’t be is Columbus, Ohio as he is not allowed to leave Guatemala due to an ongoing rent dispute. There is hope among some US fans that this is enough to help the US bounce back.

Notes:

• Friday’s loss to Guatemala was the first time the US had lost to Guatemala since 1988, and the first time they’d lost it Guatemala City.

• Current Group C standings are Trinidad & Tobago in first with seven points, Guatemala in second with 6 points, USA in third with four points, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines bringing up the rear with zero points.

• Should he be healthy, 17 year old Borussia Dortmund sensation Christian Pulisic will be joining the US in Columbus.

When, Where

3/29/16

Mapfre Stadium
Columbus, Ohio
7pm ET
ESPN2, UniMas and Sling TV

All-Time Series
USA leads 15-5-6

Last Meeting

3/25/16
Estadio Mateo Flores
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Guatemala 2=0 USA

Current FIFA Ranking

USA: 30
Guatemala: 95

Next Game Up
TBD

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