Now the squad heads out of the country to the hostile Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City to face the 85th ranked Guatemalan National team. The last time these two teams played here, the U.S. squeaked out a 1-0 result in 2010 World Cup Qualifying. The U.S. needs to keep the pressure on the Guatemalan side and avoid the defensive gaffes that have recently burned them, but will they?
Unfortunately, the U.S. squad is currently one that has more questions than answers.
The main reason Jurgen Klinsmann was brought in was to get this team to score more goals. Three goals against Antigua does seem like a lot until you consider the opponent. The U.S. had many chances to take a shot, but were maddeningly gun shy, preferring to be cute with their passing in the box.
That needs to change against Guatemala. The Guatemalans will employ a similar defensive strategy and they are slightly better than Antigua. When the U.S. gets their chances, they have to capitalize on them. Herculez Gomez seems to get that; the other players, not so much.
One thing Klinsmann should consider is putting Clint Dempsey back behind Gomez, push either Jozy Altidore or Terrance Boyd out wide, and bench either Maurice Edu or Jermaine Jones. The team needs more of an offensive killer instinct and the defensive triumvirate of Edu, Jones, and Bradley just isn’t helping the situation.
Of course then there is the leaky defense. Guatemala has some offensive firepower in Carlos Ruiz and Marco Pappa that should not be taken lightly. Klinsmann can ill afford to trot Oguchi Onyewu out on the pitch. Once upon a time, Onyewu was a no brainer to slot next to Carlos Bocanegra. That is no longer the case. It’s time for Geoff Cameron to redeem himself for his gaffe against the Scots. As bad as the own goal was, it was one mistake to the many recently made by Onyewu. Bocanegra can hold down the fort on the left while Fabian Johnson gets healthy over the summer.
Guatemala lost to Jamaica 2-1, so they cannot afford to lose to the U.S. They will come out hungry and feed off the home crowd. The U.S. needs to get up for this match and win in convincing fashion. It would be a nice way to end qualifying before it resumes in September.
Klinsmann will steadfastly stick to his forwards and midfield, but expect changes in the back: