USA-Guatemala Takeaways: Doom and gloom premature

Dire warnings after the USA's 2-0 loss to Guatemala were premature as it made easier work of Los Chapines, 4-0, Tuesday night in Columbus, Ohio. The victory eases the pressure on Jurgen Klinsmann  heading into June's Copa Centenario and puts the USA in good shape to advance to the Hexagonal.

Here are three takeaways from the one-sided win ...

1. Lineup changes pay off in big way.

Klinsmann made five changes in the U.S. starting lineup from the team that started so badly in Guatemala City: Brad Guzan in place of Tim Howard in goal, DeAndre Yedlin  for Geoff Cameron at right back, Cameron for Omar Gonzalez and Steven Birnbaum for Michael Orozco at center back, Kyle Beckerman for Mix Diskerud at holding midfielder, Graham Zusi for Yedlin and Gyasi Zardes for injured Alejandro Bedoya on the wings.

USA-Guatemala: Report Card

Beckerman and Zusi had not played in the first three U.S. qualifiers of the current cycle -- Zusi was not even in Guatemala City -- and neither attended January camp, but both players made impacts. Beckerman brought order to the midfield behind captain Michael Bradley, and Zusi put the game away with the third U.S. goal within seconds after the start of the second half. Neither Beckerman, 33, not Zusi, 29, would figure to go to Russia -- assuming the USA qualifies -- but they remain in the mix.

2. Dempsey remains indispensable in U.S. attack.

Another player absent from the November qualifiers was Clint Dempsey, raising questions about his future on the national team. With Klinsmann's agreement, he skipped January camp to concentrate on getting ready for the Seattle Sounders' early start in the Concacaf Champions League.

It's hard to imagine whether the USA would be without Dempsey, as he was the USA's best player in both games. With a little luck, the USA could have recovered from its early 2-0 deficit in Guatemala, and Dempsey had the opening goal in the 12th minute on Tuesday, settling a U.S. record with his 14th goal in World Cup qualifying.

3. Road to the Hexagonal opens wide.

The win put the USA in good shape to advance to the Hexagonal -- the final round of World Cup qualifying in the Concacaf zone -- which will begin later in the year.

The USA jumped back ahead of Guatemala into second place in Group C and plays St. Vincent & the Grenadines on Sept. 2. If it wins at SVG -- anything but a win would be a monumental upset -- and Guatemala loses at Trinidad & Tobago, the USA will clinch with a game to spare. It closes the semifinal round of qualifying

6 comments about "USA-Guatemala Takeaways: Doom and gloom premature".
  1. David Mont, March 30, 2016 at 8:23 a.m.

    It was Guatemala. At home. Enough said.

  2. :: SilverRey ::, March 30, 2016 at 3:47 p.m.

    Guatemala was literally the worst WCQ result the US has ever had - we have never lost to a 95 ranked team before.

    We should never have been so close to the precipice in the first place. And no, it has not been averted - we are still walking right next to it...

  3. haendel lazo, March 30, 2016 at 8:40 p.m.

    time for Klinsmann to help find the next coach, transfer with dignity.

  4. R2 Dad, March 31, 2016 at 1:29 a.m.

    This whole process is messy, but at the end of 4 years who do you want leading the USMNT at the next world cup? Truth be told, getting out of the Hex is the only requirement for the coach and no one cares what the roller coaster ride is like between world cups. Yes the Gold Cup is important-ish, as is the upcoming Copa. But national teams are defined by their performance in each World Cup--everything else is about building the national team pool and player development. The US pool requires more growth and development than the traditional powers. Could JK be doing more? Of course. But if we can get to the Quarter finals in 2018 JK's tenure will be considered successful (getting out of the group is the minimum). A lot of that is luck of the draw once you get out of the Group Stage, but duplicating 2002 should be goal.

  5. Andrew Kear, March 31, 2016 at 9:52 a.m.

    The point you miss is that Klinsmann has regressed the USMNT a good 20 years.

  6. Allan Lindh, March 31, 2016 at 2:40 p.m.

    We're a 20-30 level team, truth be told, without LD. However we play much lower than that when Jurgen Littlemann continues to make the same bone-headed lineup mistakes time after time. Orosco, Gonzalez, Diskerud. What more can I say? Does no one remember last summer?

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