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Will USA-Guatemala be a real game?
by Mike Woitalla, October 16th, 2012 1:43AM

TAGS:  men's national team, world cup 2014


A USA-Guatemala tie on Tuesday will guarantee that both teams advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying. The scenario recalls the infamous West Germany-Austria game at the 1982 World Cup that embarrassed both countries and forced a change in how soccer competitions are formatted.

The change it prompted was to schedule final group games simultaneously to prevent collusion. At the 1982 World Cup, Algeria, which had upset West Germany in the opener, beat Chile, 3-2, before the European neighbors met in Gijon.

A 1-0 or 2-0 West Germany win would send the Germans and the Austrians through to the second round at Algeria’s expense on superior goal difference. A bigger German win, a tie or an Austrian win would see the Algerians through as the first African team ever to reach the second round of a World Cup.

Horst Hrubesch put the Germans ahead in the 11th minute. Wolfgang Dremmler forced a save and the Germans attacked a bit more early in the first half. Then the game turned into mostly innocuous passing and time-wasting (made easier because FIFA had yet to implement rules limiting backpasses to goalies).

Fans jeered and started chanting “Algeria! Algeria!” A German fan burned his own country’s flag. The German TV commentator said, “What’s happening here is disgraceful and has nothing to do with soccer.”

There was talk of a “non-aggression pact” before the game. Franz Beckenbauer, in between winning World Cups for Germany as a player and coach, wrote that, “It was the worst game ever by a German national team. Was it even a game? They played for 15 minutes and then neither team was interested in changing the 1-0 result. … I know that there was no pregame arrangement between the teams. But naturally there exists in soccer an ‘unspoken’ agreement that emerges during the run of play.”

The Germans were greeted with a headline in the nation’s largest tabloid, “Shame on You!,” recalled Uli Hesse in his book, “Tor: The Story of German Football.”

Lothar Matthaeus, then 21, entered as a 61st-minute sub. “I hit a penetrating pass down the left and Paul Breitner scolded I shouldn’t be so risky,” Matthaeus said.

West Germany reached the final, losing 3-1 to Italy, but its image had been severely tarnished by the Austria game and goalkeeper Toni Schumacher’s horror foul on Patrick Battiston in the epic semifinal against France.

Jurgen Klinsmann, who made his national team debut in 1987, helped restore the Germans’ image at the 1990 World Cup they won in Italy. He’s been coaching the USA for more than a year and on Tuesday faces the biggest game of his tenure.

Even if Klinsmann’s men lose by a goal, they can still advance to the Hexagonal if Jamaica doesn’t beat Antigua & Barbuda by three goals or win by two goals with a score of 4-2 or higher.

USA-Guatemala and the Jamaica game will be played at the same time -- but the previous results have already created a scenario that would allow the Americans and Chapines to take it easy on each other and slide into the next round at the Reggae Boyz’s expense.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the U.S. coach and players want to cap their so far unimpressive World Cup semifinal round of qualifying play with an emphatic win over Guatemala on Tuesday.

“Our approach to the game is clear: We want to win,” said Klinsmann. “You only can win a game if you attack and go forward, and that’s what we’re going to do. We are not looking for a tie.”

Even if the U.S. offense fails to light up Livestrong Sporting Park, it would be unreasonable to infer intentional caution because an unproductive attack is what we’re used to seeing from Klinsmann’s team.

But what if during the second half the USA and Guatemala are still tied and word comes in from Kingston that Jamaica has scored the three goals they need? At that point, would one expect the Americans, or the Guatemalans, to take any risks that could result in seeing their World Cup hopes end?

  1. David Moffett
    commented on: October 16, 2012 at 5:41 a.m.
    Or does the US decide that they would rather eliminate Guatemala in this round rather than face them again in the Hex?
  1. George Gorecki
    commented on: October 16, 2012 at 9:05 a.m.
    Teams who find themselves in the situation that Algeria did in 1982 and that Jamaica is in right now usually only have themselves to blame. Algeria could have made alleged collusion between Germany and Austria moot had they not lost to Austria when the teams met in the second group match. Same goes for Jamaica. They dropped two points versus Antigua, so tough luck for them if the USA and Guatemala play out a draw tonight.
  1. Ken Jamieson
    commented on: October 16, 2012 at 9:10 a.m.
    The thought of eliminating one of the two teams that have dominated CONCACAF for the past few decades may be impetus enough for Guatemala to play for the win. Also, to comment on Jamaica only having itself to blame for the position it is in, the same can be said for the United States who realistically should have already qualified but for some dismal results. If Guatemala fails to play along and wins and Jamaica gets its result, the United States will only have themselves to blame.
  1. Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    commented on: October 16, 2012 at 10:10 a.m.
    Will USA-Guatemala be a real game? ....... and forced a change in how soccer competitions are formatted - Extract SO, WHAT HAPPENED (since the USA and Guatamala still 'have the option' of FIXING THIS COMPETITION)? The Single League Table Qualifying System played WITHOUT Groups is THE ONLY QUALIFYING FORMAT IN THE WORLD FIT FOR ALL FOOTBALL's COMPETITIONS. The reason Joseph Sepp Blatter, FIFA and Global Football do not want to use it is because IT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT AND POSSIBLY THE COSTLIEST QUALIFYING SYSTEM IN THE WORLD TO FIX. I hope Advertisers, Sponsors, Partners and Suppliers STOP putting THEIR SHAREHOLDER's MONEY into FIXED FOOTBALL. Regardless of what Jurgen Klinsman is saying, the fact 'THE OPTION' is available SCREAMS 'FRAUD IS THERE FOR THE TAKING!'
  1. Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    commented on: October 16, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
    Playing Matches at the same time to negate A FIX does not work in the INTERNET AGE! The SINGLE LEAGUE TABLE QUALIFYING SYSTEM played WITHOUT GROUPS is the answer! For example : Match Day 1 / Pool A - All 100 Countries are in the draw and 50 matches are drawn. The Single 100 Team League Table is compiled - 1st to 100th. Match Day 2 / The Away leg is played and the 100 Team League Table Updated and finalised. Match Day 3 and the Teams in 1st to 50th go into Pool A and are drawn against Pool B Teams in positions 51st to 100th. The SAME SYSTEM IS USED FOR ALL THE CONFEDERATIONS AND THE SAME SYSTEM IS USED TO DECIDE ALL Match Day games. FIFA have made a BIG 'MISTAKE' AGAIN. YOU CANNOT ALLOW FIXED-FORMATS TO RULE!
  1. John Hooper
    commented on: October 16, 2012 at 1:43 p.m.
    I would rather see a US win so we don't have to make any more trips to Guatemala or watch the thuggish Chapines trying to grind out a result by packing the box, committing constant niggling fouls, and faking fouls by the other team (especially Pescadito). They really are the only CONCACAF team I can't stand--especially because they could play better, but don't.
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: October 16, 2012 at 5:31 p.m.
    Anyone who approaches a game without the 'win' mentality, should not step on the pitch.

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