The United States has 318 million people, Guatemala has 15.5 million. The United States men’s soccer team has qualified for seven consecutive World Cups and won the Gold Cup four times in its last eight tries. The Guatemalan men’s soccer team has never qualified for the World Cup and last won the Gold Cup in 1967. The U.S. soccer team is ranked 30th in the world. The Guatemalan soccer team is ranked 95th in the world.
So it doesn’t take any sort of expert to conclude that the U.S. soccer team should beat the Guatemalan soccer team 10 times out of 10.
Well the stars and Stripes lost to their smaller Central American opponent 2-0 on Friday in Guatemala City, as part of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. They get a rematch Tuesday in Columbus, and U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is not beating around the bush about the game’s importance to qualifying for the World Cup. Via ESPN:
“We analyze the mistakes that we did in Guatemala City, and hopefully correct them and play a really good game tomorrow night,” Klinsmann said.
“We need to win this game.”
Considering how much of a mismatch this game should be, it’s pretty hilarious (or depressing, depending how you look at it) to hear the urgency with which Klinsmann is discussing the matchup, but that’s what Friday’s loss has wrought.
“We had plenty of chances to turn the game around, to at least equalize the game,” he said. “There’s a sense of urgency around tomorrow night because we need to get three points now.”
Klinsmann suggested he would not play [injured midfielder Alejandro] Bedoya if the Nantes player was limited in any way.
“In a game like that [Tuesday] night, you have to be 100 percent,” he said. “If there’s any doubt about a player, then we’re not starting him.”
With one win, one loss, and one draw, the U.S. is currently third in its semifinal qualifying group, from which only two teams with advance to the final hexagonal. Three CONCACAF teams will receive automatic berths to the World Cup, and the United States is going to need to turn things around if they want to be heading to Moscow in 2018.