By Mike Woitalla
Executive Editor, Soccer America Magazine
in Birmingham, Ala.
The United States downed Guatemala, 2-0, on Wednesday in convincing fashion.
In the Americans' 4-4-2 formation, Brian Ching paired up with Eddie Johnson on the frontline. Johnson put the Americans ahead in the 11th minute after running on to a back-heeled pass from Landon Donovan inside the penalty area. Johnson controlled the ball with his right foot and shot low from 12 yards with his left foot off the right post. Donovan had received the through pass from Pablo Mastroeni, his central midfield partner.
Mastroeni hit superb balls to both forwards and wide midfielders Eddie Lewis and Steve Ralston throughout the game.
Mastroeni also intercepted balls and won tackles in the midfield, leaving the Guatemalans to hit long, hopeful balls to forwards Dwight Pezzarossi and Carlos Ruiz, who were stifled by central defenders Oguchi Onyewu and Cory Gibbs.
Although Ching helped the United States keep possession deep in Guatemala territory, he missed three first-half chances to extend the U.S. lead.
Lewis and Ralston threatened constantly down the flanks. They also squandered scoring chances, but Ralston provided the second goal when he controlled Johnson's headed pass, after a cross from Lewis, and poked the ball home from five yards in the 68th minute.
Neither wingback, Carlos Bocanegra or Steve Cherundolo, allowed wing attacks from the Guatemalans. Cherundolo, of the two, was more effective in the attack.
6 Kasey Keller
7 Steve Cherundolo
6 Oguchi Onyewu
6 Cory Gibbs
6 Carlos Bocanegra
7 Steve Ralston
8 Pablo Mastroeni
7 Landon Donovan
7 Eddie Lewis
7 Eddie Johnson
5 Brian Ching
nr Pat Noonan
nr Josh Wolff
nr Clint Dempsey
Let us know what you think about the U.S. performances so far in the Hexagonal. Who's done well and who's disappointed? What's worked and what hasn't? Advice for Bruce? Be sure to include your full name and hometown and send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Edited comments will appear in the April 25 issue of Soccer America Magazine