Posted on June 13, 2012
GUATEMALA CITY — Second-half substitute Marco Pappa converted a free kick in the 83rd minute to lift Guatemala into a 1-1 draw with the United States in a World Cup qualifying match at Estadio Mateo Flores on Tuesday night.
The tie boosted the Americans (1-0-1, four point) into the CONCACAF Group A lead with Jamaica (1-0-1, four), which played host Antigua & Barbuda (0-1-1, one) to a scoreless tie earlier in the night. Guatemala (0-1-1, one)) is tied with Antigua.
The draw extended the U.S.’s unbeaten streak over the Central American side to 18 games (12-0-6), dating back to a 1-0 loss on Jan. 10, 1988.
“We got a result here,” U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann said. “We wanted three points but we’re OK with the one point that we take away leading the group. And knowing now going into Jamaica, for us, we have to get that result as well, which we will do, and we’ll be one of the two top teams that advance. That is our goal as well as Guatemala’s goal.”
As for scoring goals, Klinsmann admitted he was disappointed the Americans could not find another, especially after Pappa’s equalizer.
“When you control the game the way we did, especially after we scored the goal and passed around the ball really well, you’re a bit disappointed when something like that happens,” he said. “On the other side, they never gave up. They launched long balls and ran for second balls, that’s their kind of approach and that’s always tricky.
“You’ve got to give them credit for that. Overall, I’m pleased with the performance of our guys. The way they played the game, controlled the game, it was clear to see that we came here for three points – we didn’t come here for a point.”
With time winding down in the match, U.S. midfielder Fabian Johnson received a yellow card for fouling striker Carlos Ruiz some 24 yards from the net. Pappa, who replaced Carlos Figueroa at halftime, fired a left-footed shot just inside the underside of the crossbar past goalkeeper Tim Howard to equalize.
Asked if he thought whether the hosts could come from behind, Klinsmann replied, “It’s always possible that you can concede a goal on a set piece. We conceded a goal from a set piece, a beautiful free kick. But corner kicks are also dangerous from Guatemala. We knew that so we were prepared for that. Obviously, when you lead one-nil, you want to close it down. You want to score the second goal. . . . It was pretty serious there. It was tough for us. They kept pushing and creating and then they got that goal through a beautiful free kick.”
Clint Dempsey struck in the 40th minute to give the Americans a 1-0 lead.
Johnson sent the Fulham midfielder-forward a centering pass from the left side and Dempsey got some space from his marker and slotted his 27th international goal past goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez.
Only two minutes prior to the goal, Howard denied Ruiz on a shot from the right side of the penalty area.
Ruiz was a handful for the U.S. defense for most of the match.
A minute into first-half stoppage time, Ruiz beat midfielders Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu and fired a shot from inside the penalty area that just missed the net on the left side.
Pappa gave the Central Americans a much-needed spark in the second half. The Chicago Fire midfielder just missed the net with a shot in the 68th minute.
Howard was on top of his game, producing several key saves. He stopping Rodriguez from point-blank range in the 69th minute. The ball popped up and Ruiz sent the rebound over the crossbar.
Howard was credited with three saves, while Jerez had one.
Four Americans were awarded yellow cards, while the hosts were given two.
The teams won’t play against until September, when the U.S. takes on Jamaica in a home-and-home series and the Guatemalans play Antigua in a similar confrontation.
Photo: Clint Dempsey scored for the U.S. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: Antigua and Barbuda, Central America, Guatemala, Jamaica, North America, U.S.A.
Tags: Carlos Ruiz, Clint Dempsey, Marco Pappa, Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Jerez, Tim Howard, World Cup qualifying