Guatemala vs. USA | CONCACAF 2018 World Cup Qualifying Match Preview
Guatemala vs. USA
2018 World Cup Qualifier
March 25 | 10 pm ET | Estadio Mateo Flores, Guatemala City, Guatemala
TV: beIN SPORTS, NBC Universo
The US national team will return to World Cup qualifying on Friday, when they travel to Central America to take on Guatemala at Estadio Mateo Flores for the first match of a home-and-home set with Los Chapines.
The US will be looking for a win on Friday to stay atop Group C in CONCACAF qualifying. The Americans have four points through their first two semifinal round matches, and lead second-place Trinidad and Tobago through goal difference. Guatemala is currently in third-place with three points through two matches, and will be looking to pick up at least a point at home as they try to keep the Hexagonal within reach.
The US have dominated the all-time series with Guatemala, posting a 15-4-6 all-time record against Los Chapines. The Americans currently hold a 21-match unbeaten streak against Guatemala, the team’s longest current unbeaten run against any international opponent.
While the US have largely controlled the series, Guatemala have given the US a bit of trouble at Estadio Mateo Flores. Colorado Rapids midfielder Marco Pappa scored a late equalizer to give the hosts a 1-1 draw against the Americans in the third round of 2014 World Cup qualifying. Guatemala also played the US tough at Estadio Mateo Flores in 2010 and 2006 qualifying, holding the Americans to a scoreless draw in September 2005 and falling victim to a narrow 1-0 defeat in August 2008.
It’s not entirely in their hands, but the US would likely wrap up a spot in the Hexagonal round with a pair of wins against Guatemala.
The US and Trinidad and Tobago both have four points through two Group C matches. Guatemala are in third with three points, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are bringing up the rear, having lost both of their first two matches.
If the US can pick up the full six points from their two games against Guatemala and St. Vincent and the Grenadines doesn’t earn at least four points in their two matches against Trinidad and Tobago, the US would cinch up a spot in the Hex. That would be a nice relief for Jurgen Klinsmann, who could probably use a little peace of mind heading into the Copa América Centenario in June.
Guatemala are looking to beat the odds and qualify for their first-ever World Cup tournament in 2018. To do that, they first need to qualify for the Hexagonal, something they haven't done since 2006 qualifying, when they finished fifth and just missed out on the intercontinental playoff spot.
Inconsistent in recent years, Los Chapines finished second in the Central American championship in 2014, but came in last in their group at last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup and failed to move on to the knockout stage. As a result, Guatemala certainly have the talent to win at home, even against stronger opposition, but their uneven play makes it difficult to know which version of the national team will step out onto the field from game to game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Marco Pappa, Guatemala - Coming off a tumultuous offseason and switching MLS teams, Pappa has started 2016 in good form, scoring a last-second winner for Colorado and demonstrating some of the skill that's made him famous. Smart money says he'll definitely be up for this game against the US.
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GOALKEEPERS (4): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/ENG), Tim Howard (Everton FC/ENG), William Yarbrough (Club Leon/MEX)
DEFENDERS (9): Ventura Alvarado (Club America/MEX), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), Edgar Castillo (Monterrey/MEX), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana/MEX), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland/ENG)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes FC/FRA), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach/GER), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers FC), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin/GER), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Paulo Motta (Municipal), Ricardo Jérez (Alianza Petrolera/COL), José García (Cobán Imperial)
DEFENDERS (8): Cristian Jiménez (Municipal), Hamilton López (Xelajú), Luis Cardona (Municipal), Carlos Castrillo (Comunicaciones), Rafael Morales (Saprissa/CRC), Moises Hernández (FC Dallas/USA), Stefano Cincotta (Chemnitzer/GER), Jonathan López (Antigua GFC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Rodrigo Saravia (Columbus Crew SC/USA), Marco Rivas (Municipal), Gerardo Arias (Petapa), Jean Márquez (Comunicaciones), Marco Pappa (Colorado Rapids/USA), José Contreras (Comunicaciones)
FORWARDS (6): Manfred Icuté (Petapa), Luis Martínez (Xelajú), Edi Guerra (Universidad San Carlos), Gerson Tinoco (Coatepeque), Carlos Ruiz (Municipal), Kevín Arriola (Xelajú)
TRAINING GK (1): Gilder Lemus