WCQ18 PREVIEW: “As Close To All or Nothing” For #USMNT

USMNT Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (photo courtesy US Soccer)

World Cup Qualifier – United States vs Guatemala

Tuesday, March 29, 2016
7 pm EST (ESPN2)
MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, OH

Follow Pittsburgh Soccer Report’s John Krysinsky for game day updates from Columbus on Twitter.

WHAT’s AT STAKE 

“It’s about as close as you can come to all or nothing,” Michael Bradley, U.S. Midfielder.

“There’s a real sense of understanding that now, given the way things have gone and the results, it’s a game where we have to win.”

Either we are going to see U.S. right its ship, or find itself sinking after this match.

Unable to recover from falling behind 2-0 early at Guatemala on Friday, the U.S. now sits in third place in four-team CONCACAF World Cup Group C semifinal Qualifying, with four points halfway through six-game round-robin play.

A victory in Columbus would lift the U.S. into second, but a loss or tie would leave it trailing Guatemala, ranked 95th in the world by FIFA, on points and the tie-breaking goal differential with two qualifying games remaining in September.

It’s not a unique position for the U.S. as they had to fight its way through some semifinal qualifying round turbulence in 2012, and in previous years qualifying as well.

However, since losing to Jamaica in the semifinal and to Panama in 3rd place game of CONCACAF Gold Cup in July, the U.S has struggled vs region rivals, only beating St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

ABOUT GUATEMALA

  • Coach:     Walter Claveri
  • Nicknames:     “La Azul y Blanco” / “Los Chapines”
  • vs U.S.:   5-15-6 all time, 1-7-5 World Cup Qualifying, 0-6-0 in U.S.
  • Have never qualified for the World Cup.
  • Currently sitting in 2nd place in Group C, two points ahead of U.S.

Did everything they had to do to beat the U.S. on Friday, scoring two opportunistic goals, then hung on, thanks to terrific goalkeeping.

The first goal came from a corner kick that Rafael Morales headed off the back of Mix Diskerud in 6th minute. Then Los Chapines captain Carlos Ruiz got past the U.S back line to a long, skipping goal kick from Paulo Matta, and easily beat U.S. Keeper Tim Howard.

Holding a two goal lead, Matta stood tall, stopping shot after shot from Clint Dempsey, Alejandro Bedoya, Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore.

ROSTER ACTIVITY

Guatemala will be without the services of Ruiz, due to legal issues as he is unable to leave his country.

U.S. Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann made a few moves in advance of Tuesday’s match included adding two midfielders: 17-year old Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) and Graham Zusi (Sporting KC).

These call-ups were necessary as Fabian Johnson has returned to Borussia Moenchengladbach for further treatment on a groin injury suffered prior to his arrival into camp. Matt Besler traveled back to Kansas City after sustaining a concussion in training last Thursday

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (4): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (8): Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

USMNT HAS HISTORIC HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE IN COLUMBUS

The historic soccer-specific stadium has played host to a number of memorable U.S. matches and has been a regular fixture on the MNT’s World Cup Qualifying circuit, hosting at least one match in each qualifying cycle dating back to 2002.

Most famous for being the setting for the USA’s four “Dos a Cero” World Cup Qualifying victories against Mexico, the U.S. is 6-0-2 all-time in qualifying matches at MAPFRE Stadium, winning each of its last four matches there. In 10 matches, the U.S. has never tasted defeat in Columbus, going 7-0-3 all-time while conceding just one goal.

STEEL CITY OUTLAWS HEAD WEST

U.S. Supporters from Pittsburgh, part of Steel City American Outlaws, will be making the trip to MAPFRE Stadium. As noted on its social media platforms, the Outlaws will be doing everything they can to keep the U.S. record in qualifying games at Columbus without a blemish.

If you can’t make the trek to Columbus, the Steel City Outlaws will also be hosting a watch party  at Claddaugh at South Side Works.

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