United States control Guatemala to earn much-needed win in qualifier
Facing a must-win situation in the quest to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the United States responded with a 4-0 victory over Guatemala on Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio.
Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore scored as the U.S. recovered from Friday's defeat to the same opponents in Guatemala City.
Despite a banner flying overhead calling for the U.S. to fire coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the Americans controlled the majority of the action.
The U.S. jumped into second place ahead of Guatemala by a point in their qualifying group, with two games left to play in September. The top two teams will advance to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
The Americans scored with their first shot of the game in the 12th minute.
Cameron sent a deep ball in toward Gyasi Zardes at the top of the box, where Guatemala defenders Moises Hernendez and Rafael Morales collided and the ball fell off Zardes' shoulder for Dempsey to shoot home.
The U.S. kept up the pressure as Michael Bradley took two shots, one chip that flew over the net and another that took a deflection into the hands of Paulo Motta.
With Guatemala offering little in response after the early moments, Cameron doubled the U.S. advantage with a goal in the 35th minute as he headed in Bradley's free kick.
The U.S. had two more glorious chances before halftime but couldn't add to their lead. First, Dempsey cut through the Guatemala defense but his lay-off pass fell behind the oncoming Bradley.
Then Bobby Wood struggled to control a lofted pass when he was five yards in front of the defenders and skewed his shot wide.
But those chances were forgotten immediately as the second half began as Zusi scored in the opening 18 seconds.
DeAndre Yedlin played a through ball into the box that bounced of Zardes, and Zusi pounced to increase the lead to 3-0.
Jozy Altidore, who is overcoming an injury, came on during the second half, as did Columbus Crew SC winger Ethan Finlay, who thought he had a late goal in front of his home fans but was incorrectly ruled offside.
Another Crew SC player did play a part in the U.S.' final goal, however, as Columbus defender Rodrigo Saravia gave the ball straight to Dempsey, who fed Altidore to score the Americans' fourth in the 89th minute.
Dempsey nearly had a fifth goal in stoppage time but Hernandez blocked his header from close range.
Brad Guzan had relatively little to do besides a fine 79th-minute save low to his right as Guatemala could not replicate their home form, and the U.S. cruised to the win.
The U.S.' third substitution in the 81st minute was reserved for 17-year-old Christian Pulisic, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder who ended any doubts about possibly playing for Croatia in the future by making his U.S. debut. He became the youngest player to ever feature for the U.S. in a World Cup qualifier.
Bradley picked up a yellow card in the second half and will miss the U.S.' next qualifier at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in September.