After an embarrassing show by the USMNT last Friday, the Yanks are hoping to set things right in Columbus to get back on track on their way to the hexagonal round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.
After giving up two quick goals early in the game in Guatemala City, the United States never seemed to gain a rhythm in the game and did not seem to bother the Guatemala goal much. The goals conceded were easily avoidable as well, and the defense really needs to be sturdier if the USMNT hopes to not crash out this early in the World Cup Qualifying.
The sense of urgency is evident to everyone, especially to head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. “We didn’t come back with the result we wanted in Guatemala. The situation is clear: we need to win this game tomorrow night,” said Klinsmann as he addressed the media on Monday.
There has been some changes to the USMNT squad as well, with defenders John Anthony Brooks and Matt Besler and midfielder Fabian Johnson leaving the U.S. camp with injuries. Klinsmann has tapped Graham Zusi to provide an offensive spark the United States desperately needs as he comes in to the fray for the USMNT, as well as 17-year-old midfielder Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) as he joins the senior squad for the first time in his young career.
History is on the USMNT’s side as they look to Columbus as a good luck charm going 6-0-2 all-time in qualifying matches at MAPFRE Stadium. Not to mention the Yanks have won each of its last four matches there. In 10 matches at MAPFRE, the U.S. has never lost in Columbus, going 7-0-3 all-time in Ohio. But history was also on the U.S.’s side last game, having not lost to Guatemala in almost 30 years and look where that went.
On Guatemala’s side of things, a bit of bad luck for head coach Walter Claverí who is uncertain of the status of striker Carlos Ruiz, one of the goalscorers in last game. A legal dispute, pertaining to Ruiz not paying his rent in Guatemala, has his unable to leave the country to depart to the U.S. His lawyers are hard at work as we speak, trying to get Guatemala’s key man to Columbus for the game. Reports have him flying to Columbus just hours before the game tonight.
If Ruiz is unable to play, this would be a blow to Guatemala’s offense, as they will be without their leading scorer, so we will have to see if Ruiz will be able to make the trip. On the other hand, La Bicolor have added some defensive prowess as they were able to resolve Hamilton López’s visa issues and he was able to make the trip to the United States.
Again, the United States is favored in this matchup on home soil, and maybe some home cooking is just what the doctor order to fix what ails the USMNT. But, if they continue their play from last week, their path to the hexagonal will be all the more difficult as they will have to play catch up to Group C leaders Trinidad and Tobago.
And the U.S.’s last game? Against T&T, and it will most likely be the deciding game to who leads the group, but first things first. The USMNT needs this win in a bad way.