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USA vs. Guatemala | 2018 World Cup Qualifying Match Preview

USA vs. GUATEMALA
2018 World Cup Qualifier
March 29 | 7 pm ET | MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
TV: ESPN2, UniMas, UDN

With many fans in full-on meltdown mode and their Hexagonal hopes teetering perilously on the brink, the US national team will look to bounce back from Friday’s disheartening 2-0 loss at Guatemala with a win against Los Chapines at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus on Tuesday night.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for US manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who drew heavy criticism for his lineup and tactical choices on Friday and could see his seat get very, very hot with anything short of a win in Columbus.

HISTORY

Friday’s defeat ended the US’s 21-match unbeaten run against Guatemala, moving the Americans’ all-time record against los Chapines to 15-5-6.

The US will get a boost from playing in Columbus, where they’re 7-0-3 all-time, including 6-0-2 in World Cup qualifiers. Tuesday’s match will be the US’s first meeting against Guatemala in Columbus. 

USA OUTLOOK

Tuesday’s match is a virtual must-win for the USMNT, who currently sit in third-place in Group C with four points through three matches, trailing first-place Trinidad and Tobago (seven points) and second-place Guatemala (six points).

A victory would likely leave the US in second in the group behind Trinidad and Tobago, who will host minnows St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday. That’d be an OK spot to be. The top-two teams from the group qualify for the Hexagonal, and the US will be favored in their final two matches of the round, at home against Trinidad and at St. Vincent in September.  

A loss, on the other hand, would just about eliminate the Americans. Assuming Trinidad handles St. Vincent at home on Tuesday, a defeat would leave the US six points behind the Soca Warriors and five behind Guatemala. The permutations for how the US could finish second were outlined by our own Matt Doyle here. The short version? It'd basically be over. 

A draw on Tuesday would leave things a little more muddled. The US would remain in third in the group, two points behind Guatemala and likely five behind Trinidad. Advancing in that scenario would be possible, but still a little dicey.

GUATEMALA OUTLOOK

Things might be all doom and gloom for the US, but Guatemala – who have never qualified for a World Cup – are riding high after Friday’s historic victory. The win put Guatemala in a great position to qualify for their first Hexagonal since the 2006 cycle, when they finished fifth in the Hex, just missing out on the intercontinental playoff spot.

Should they pull the massive upset and pick up a win on Tuesday, Guatemala would virtually seal their place in the Hex. A draw would also do wonders for Los Chapines, and would leave them in control of their own destiny heading into the final two qualifiers of the round at Trinidad and home against St. Vincent in September.

Not even a loss on Tuesday would kill Guatemala’s hopes, as a defeat would leave them only one point behind the US – well within striking distance.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Jurgen Klinsmann, USA – No, he’s not a player, but Klinsmann will have more eyes on him than anyone on the field on Tuesday night. The US manager’s constant lineup tinkering and nasty penchant for playing players out of position haunted the US on Friday, and he’ll need to put his charges in a better position to succeed if the Yanks are to get back on track on Tuesday.

Paulo Motta, Guatemala – Guatemala’s goalkeeper was huge on Friday, making five saves – several of them on golden chances – to keep the shutout and give Los Chapines the win. With Guatemala likely to sit back a bit on the road and the Americans set to come out firing on Tuesday, Motta will have to have another Man of the Match performance for his team to pick up another historic result.

RELATED CONTENT

ROSTERS

USA

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), 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), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers FC), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

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)

Guatemala

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

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