Preview: USMNT Resumes Qualifying in Guatemala City



On Friday night, the United States Men’s National Team will finally be back in action when it kick off in Guatemala City in the first World Cup Qualifier of 2016.

Know the Enemy: Guatemala

By no stretch of the imagination will Friday night be easy for the Americans. The Stars and Stripes history against Guatemala has been well documented in the lead up to this match, especially the 2000 World Cup Qualifier in Mazatenango.

The only player from that 1-1 draw 16 years ago that will be on the field on Friday night is Carlos Ruiz. The lone goal scorer for the hosts that afternoon is set to make his 127th cap for his country. At the moment, the Guatemalan captain has 59 career goals on the international level.

In addition, the side will feature a few names recognizable to MLS. fans The most notable of these is Colorado Rapids midfielder Marco Pappa. Moises Hernandez of FC Dallas is also likely to see time for the hosts. The 24 year old is looking to earn his 13th career cap on Friday night.

La Furia Azul come into the contest on a great run of form. In their only other contest in 2016, they were able to knockoff Central American counterpart Honduras 3-1 in a friendly in Guatemala City. Over the last six month, the side has only lost a single match. During that stretch, Guatemala was able to come away with a pair of draws last October against El Salvador and Honduras. More recently they closed out 2015 with a 4-0 win in a World Cup Qualifier on the road at St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

What To Expect

One thing is for certain whenever the U.S. travels to Central America; any advantage the hosts can possibly get, they will have. Many former USMNTers have told stories of the locals blaring music all night long outside of the team hotel, unfathomable temperatures, and spotty officiating.

Another aspect covered earlier this week is the absence of Fabian Johnson. The German-American is having a career year on the club level, but recent injury has forced him out of U.S. camp. This will open the door to Gyasi Zardes to make an impact in a crucial match.

Fortunately for Klinsmann and company, adversity is nothing new to the USMNT. Most the guys in the starting XI have experience in hostile environments like the one expected at Estadio Mateo Flores on Friday, facing stiff challenges on both the club and international level. A budding Bobby Wood will be of interest as he looks to carry his club form to the international stage as well.

Projected USMNT Starting XI


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