USA 4, Guatemala 0 | International Friendly Match Recap
It may not have offered the inspiring moments that resulted in wins over world powers Germany and the Netherlands just a month ago, but the US national team’s 4-0 win Friday night over Guatemala in their final tune-up for next week’s Gold Cup left them no worse for the wear.
A Guatemala own goal in the first half got the US on their way, and a Timothy Chandler blast from distance, Clint Dempsey penalty kick and Chris Wondolowski capper finished off the La Azul y Blanco in front of a lively crowd at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.
As expected, US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann fielded a lineup laden with veterans from last summer’s World Cup. Toronto FC’s Jozy Altidore and Seattle Sounders’ Dempsey led the line in a 4-4-2 formation, with TFC’s Michael Bradley running point in midfield.
And the high-pressing US presented plenty for Guatemala to deal with early on – even if they didn’t capitalize until late.
They earned their first penalty kick of the night in the 17th minute when Fabian Johnson sliced down the left wing and sent a cross into the box for the counter-attacking Yanks. Altidore, making a centering run, was tripped up by Wilson Lalin to draw the whistle of the head referee. Goalkeeper Paulo Motta, however, guessed correctly on Altidore’s spot kick, diving right to parry it out for a corner.
Another decisive counter attack by the USA three minutes later led to the opening goal thanks to a Guatemala miscue. A DeAndre Yedlin cross from the right was headed into their own goal by defender Carlos Castrillo.
Guatemala wrangled hold of more of the ball as the half drew on, and it led to two quality chances before the break.
In the 33rd minute, Carlos Mejia got off a cross into charging Ruben Morales into the box, forcing American goalkeeper Brad Guzan off his line to break up the opportunity.
A free kick from 20 yards out in the 39th minute met an isolated Lalin on the back post, whose header was straight at Guzan.
Guatemala will have wanted to do better with their next opportunity right after halftime when Guzan spilled a free kick in the 47th minute that fell right to Jose Contreras with a free look at an open goal. But his shot rolled just wide of the right post.
US got back on their front foot in the 55th minute when Chandler found Dempsey in the box with a well-placed cross, but the US forward’s finishing touch failed him and the shot bounced harmlessly wide.
But three minutes later, Chandler took it himself – and wouldn’t be denied. The Eintracht Frankfurt man latched on to an inconspicuous lay-off from Yedlin, took a few touches toward the middle of the field before unleashing a left-footed rocket from nearly 30 yards out that gave Motta no chance.
The Yanks made it 3-0 when Bradley was taken down in the box in the 71st minute and Dempsey finished from the spot with a coolly taken chip.
And they cruised to the finish line with Wondolowski’s goal in the 86th minute, thanks to a wonderfully executed build up by Dempsey and second-half substitute Gyasi Zardes. Dempsey unlocked Zardes down the left wing with a looping ball over the top. Zardes then played back to Wondolowski from deep in the box, and the San Jose Earthquakes forward easily tapped it home to round out the scoring.
Guatemala did well to keep the US on their toes throughout the match, firing off 15 shots – to the US’ 11 – and forcing Guzan into three saves.
The US kick off Gold Cup group-play action Tuesday against Honduras (9:30 pm ET; Fox Sports 1).