Competition: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier – Guatemala vs. USA
Venue: Estadio Mateo Flores, Guatemala – Friday, March 25 – 22:00 ET (02:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Guatemala 17/2 – Draw 100/30 – USA 1/3
Guatemala host the USA in an important World Cup qualifier on Friday night in what will be the first of two games between the nations in five days.
Both sides have played two games so far in Group C of CONCACAF qualifying, with the USA topping the group ahead of Trinidad and Tobago on goal difference. Guatemala sit in third place, but know that picking up at least one good result against the USA over the next week will keep their hopes alive.
Guatemala have never qualified for a World Cup but did reach the Hexagonal stage of qualifying in 2006, where they finished fifth and narrowly missed out the intercontinental playoff spot.Embed from Getty Images
Los Chapines fell 2-1 to Trinidad before thrashing St Vincent and the Grenadines 4-0 in their first two Group C games. Back-to-back losses to the USA this week will all but end their hopes of qualifying, so Guatemala need to try and make home advantage count on Friday evening.
The US Men’s National Team are entering two important games as the double header against Guatemala will be Jurgen Klinsmann’s last chance to assess his squad ahead of this summer’s Copa America Centenario.
The German head coach has said the USA “badly want to get the job done before the Copa America if possible” and he is targeting six points from the two games against Los Chapines this week.Embed from Getty Images
An opening 6-1 win over St Vincent and the Grenadines was followed by a 0-0 draw in Trinidad. The USA have only won two of their last eight games away from home and a win on Friday would be a real boost.
Klinsmann has called up an experienced squad for these games. He will expect his side to record two victories as all attentions will turn to this summer’s Copa America as soon as this home-and-home series with Guatemala is over.
These nations have met at this stage of CONCACAF qualifying in each of the past five World Cup cycles. The USA have posted a 7-0-5 record in those qualifiers but have only won one of the five games in Guatemala (W1 D4).Embed from Getty Images
Jurgen Klinsmann has called up 26 players for the upcoming home-and-home series with Guatemala over the next five days, with 13 MLS stars in the latest squad. There are eight players looking to appear in their first World Cup qualifying matches, while 15 members of the squad travelled to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. Bobby Wood will be one to watch as the Union Berlin forward will hope to continue to shine if given the chance to in attack.
Guatemala have called up 24 players for the two qualifying games against USA, with six attackers named to the roster. MLS fans will be familiar with Colorado Rapids midfielder Marco Pappa as well as Carlos Ruiz, who played for five MLS clubs between 2002 and 2013. Moises Hernandez (FC Dallas) and Rodrigo Saravia (Columbus Crew) have also made the squad and will hope to impress.
Guatemala’s last five: D/L/W/W/W
USA’s last five: L/W/D/W/W
Key Stat: The USA are unbeaten in 21 consecutive matches against Guatemala – their longest current unbeaten run against any other international side.
Key Player: Marco Pappa – Americans will be familiar with Guatemala’s Marco Pappa. The midfielder in currently in his seventh MLS season after joining the Colorado Rapids this offseason. He is nearing full fitness now and will need to be at his best to break down the USMNT defence and give Guatemala a chance of winning this game.Embed from Getty Images
Guatemala 1-1 USA – Clashes between these two in Guatemala have proven to be low-scoring affairs in recent history and a close-fought battle is expected here. The USA are favourites and have a much stronger squad. But Guatemala will be tough to break down and could pick up another home draw in what is an important qualifier for both nations.