World Cup Qualifying: US Faces Tough Challenge in Guatemala
Despite a 3-1 victory over underdog Antigua & Barbuda in the opening round of the World Cup Qualifying, United States national soccer team coach Jurgen Klinsmann admitted they have to take their game to a higher level to defeat a tough Guatemalan side.
"We know, obviously, after an evening like this that we have to step it up a lot going into Guatemala, which we will do," said Klinsmann. "There were enough chances to score more goals obviously, but then you have to be clinical enough to put those away."
The Americans will play Guatemala on Tuesday at the Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores. The Guatemalans were defeated by Jamaica, 2-1, in their first World Cup qualifying match.
The Americans displayed more life on the field against Antigua after a lackluster scoreless draw against Canada but they consistently failed to take shots and break their opponents' defense.
Carlos Bocanegra scored the first goal for the US in the seventh minute before Dempsey made it 2-0 with a penalty kick just before halftime. Striker Herculez Gomez put the match to bed in the 71st, finishing into an empty net on his third attempt.
"The Canada game had a striking resemblance to this game," said Gomez, one of three goal scorers for the US against Antigua. "Put ten guys behind the ball to make it difficult on us, and the conditions didn't help us at all. I think it worked in their favor.
Gomez said like any other qualifying matches, the Antigua game should serve as lesson to everyone. "We definitely have to pick our heads up and learn from this," he said.
Midfielder Clint Dempsey said that the US team should improve its performance and approach to repeat its 2-0 victory over Guatemala in the World Cup qualifying four years ago.
"We still have to move the ball quickly and we still have to take our chances when they come," Dempsey said. "We're still a work in progress. We're still trying to figure out what our best formation is. What our best 11 is. We've got the games coming up to prove it.
"We've got to win away from home if we're going to qualify for the World Cup and that starts with the next game."
Several injuries have forced Klinsmann to juggle his lineup, putting midfielder Jose Torres at left back against Antigua but an ankle injury ended his night early and might not see action against Guatemala.
If Fabian Johnson won't make it against Guatemala, then Klinsmann will be forced to choose between Oguchi Onyewu, who has been awful in his past two appearances, and Geoff Cameron, who lacks big-game national team experience, at left back.
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