The U.S. national team hasn't lost to Guatemala since January of 1988, back when the Cold War was still going on. While that's unlikely to change on Tuesday in Guatemala City, the Americans have only managed one win against the Guatemalans since, going 1-0-3.
The U.S. is also coming off a less-than-stellar performance against 105th-ranked Antigua and knows full well that it can't underestimate Guatemala, though they rank 85th and have never qualified for the World Cup. Said U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley after the victory over Antigua (via MLive.com):
"You can talk beforehand about, 'This team is ranked this. This team is ranked that. This country has this many people. This country has that many people.' It's still, when you step on the field, it’s 11 against 11. You see it all around the world. On every single night, it doesn't always go 100 percent to plan. That's the reality."
If the Americans intend on making a successful qualifying bid their reality, a much sharper performance, if not a tune-up, will be needed.
Where: Estadio Mateo Flores Stadium; Guatemala City, Guatemala
When: Tuesday, June 12 at 10 p.m. ET
The Trials of Onyewu
Defender Oguchi Onyewu wasn't at his best against Antigua, and that's putting it lightly. He made an incorrect jump on a pass, which ultimately resulted in a largely uncontested goal—the only one of the night for the United States' opponent.
Avi Creditor of SI.com believes Onyewu will be supplanted in the pecking order by Geoff Cameron after his costly mistake.
American (Known) Talent on Guatemalan Squad
Steven Goff, soccer insider with the Washington Post, passes along this list of current and former MLS players who are gracing Guatemala's national roster:
- Mario Rodriguez (Columbus)
- Guillermo Ramirez (Los Angeles)
- Marco Pappa (Chicago)
- Gustavo Cabrera (Real Salt Lake)
- Freddy Garcia (Columbus)
- Carlos Ruiz (Los Angeles)
ESPN.com reports that Guatemala is currently under investigation by FIFA officials who are looking into a possible match-fixing scandal.
Bryan Jimenez, president of the Guatemalan federation, confirmed Friday the three players involved are Gustavo Cabrera, Yoni Flores and Guillermo Ramirez. They were suspended from the national team this week for what coach Ever Hugo Alemeida called acts of indiscipline.
Preview/Prediction: U.S. 3, Guatemala 0
When all is said and done, Jurgen Klinsmann and crew should extend their streak over Guatemala and, by all realistic expectations, should do so handily. The U.S is indeed coming off a disappointing win, but Guatemala is coming off a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Jamaica.
The momentum, history and odds are all on the side of the Americans in this one.