Wednesday, June 13, 2012

USMNT Take Draw With Guatemala

Article by Luke Lohr

The US Men's National Team was forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in hostile territory as Guatemala scored a goal with under ten minutes to go.

The match could easily have gone either way as each team had a number of opportunities in each half. American possession was in not sparing as the US kept the ball for much of the match, but moving forward their was a final pass or shot missing.

Starting the match in a 4-5-1 formation with Jones and Bradley flanking in front of Maurice Edu, Herculez Gomez was deployed as the lone forward. Gomez played well enough with a high work rate and helping to expose the Guatemalan back line.

Five minutes to the conclusion of the first half, quick passes paid off. After being beat in the play prior, Fabian Johnson made an excellent run forward and fed the box to Clint Dempsey whose deft touch allowed him to round a defender and fire the ball past a frustrated Guatemalan goalkeeper. The goal from the top of the 18-yard box was well earned and did well to lend confidence to the Americans going in to halftime.

However in the second half, Guatemala made three changes, including the introduction of Marco Pappa. It was the MLS play-maker who changed the match more than any other player. Pappa's runs and touch was an instant game changer as he forced the Americans to recognize his presence. Geoff Cameron came on for Clarence Goodson who had received a red card.

Through the second half Tim Howard continued to come up big time and again. Questionable calls and spotty defending exposed the American defense in a way that was almost typical of late CONCACAF matches. A Michael Bradley yellow card for time wasting seemed to begin the spiral downward for the Americans. A called back goal in the 78th minute by Jozy Altidore exemplified the night for the US as a laid out Dempsey found Altidore in space. However, the referee chose to call the play back and offer  a free kick instead. The ensuing free kick was wasted.

It was them Marco Pappa who fired home a brilliantly placed free kick into Tim Howard's net to give Guatemala their tying goal. The goal in the 82nd came as a result of a Fabian Johnson foul which was ill-timed and seemingly unnecessary. Johnson will likely learn from the moment and he'll have to in order to continue his ascension in the ranks.

All in all four points from two matches in World Cup Qualifying is a positive result, however performances still allow too many questions to be asked of a team who seemingly is much stronger than their results show. Nonetheless, necessary points were acquired.

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