Throwback: The Game that left unfinished Business

By Carlos Hernandez, Sports Writer

Less than 24 hours for the U.S Men’s National Soccer Team to resume their World Cup qualifying quest to Russia, host of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The U.S is no stranger to their next opponent, that being Guatemala.  Four years ago in their quest to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the U.S had to play against Guatemala in their home stadium called Estadio Mateo Flores, which will be the venue again for Friday’s World Cup Qualifying match. It was a troubling approach by the U.S as to how they entered the match four years ago, for after 2011 it was only a year after that Jurgen Klinsman was the head coach of the U.S. He would then experiment with players on finding the best rhythm of play. That costed the U.S results, such as when they faced off against Guatemala on June 12, 2012. The U.S for the most part of that match would sit back defensively, and pursued scoring against Guatemala of the counter attack, but when they took the initiative to be the dominant team, it paid off well for the U.S. Thanks to Fabian Johnson who started the run of play from the left flank, where he then passed the ball to Clint Dempsey who dribbled past two Guatemalan defenders towards giving the U.S a one to zero lead right before halftime. When the second half started Guatemala took advantage of the U.S sitting back defensively, but the troubling trait on that match day was the U.S not being able to capitalize on their goal scoring chances. Such as when Landon Donovan made the run of play from the left side of the field and delivered a long ball pass to Jozy Altidore who was marked by two Guatemalan defenders, yet Donovan aimed in giving him the ball where the pass was not received well by Jozy Altidore and deflected well by Guatemala. The U.S would sit back in the hope that they would defend the winning result, but Guatemala was constantly taking shots at goal, even attempting to score of set pieces. Either Tim Howard or the U.S defense prevented that from happening, but neither could have prevented what happened next. Of a rough push and shove collision between Fabian Johnson and Guatemalan forward Carlos Ruiz, Guatemala was awarded a free kick. Marco Pappa took the free kick very well that the ball went up and over the U.S defense and Tim Howard for the tying goal. In the dying minutes of the second half, the U.S did very little to take back the lead. Yes they had possession but the end result was not satisfying, such as when Maurice Edu delivered a pass to Clint Dempsey who let the ball slipped past his feet to Michael Bradley. Rather than to take up the space and shoot the ball on a one and one bases against the Guatemalan goalkeeper, he passed the ball to the right side of the field towards Jozy Altidore who was far away from receiving the ball. That led to a giveaway which was the last chance for the U.S to take back the lead. The match ended in a one to one draw, and both sides had a lot more to produce, as for Guatemala they needed to improve how to finish their chances in a good scoring angle, for they were shot wide or away from Tim Howard’s goal net. A lot was expected to change from the U.S, consisting of possession and creating goal scoring opportunities which were not generated that much on that match day. Fast forward to this year 2016, the U.S are starting to build a controlling possessive tempo of play which got them there first two wins of the year. Can they capitalize of that playing style in the goal of earning a winning result against Guatemala? Most importantly can the U.S defend well in saving a winning result? As for Guatemala, they also won their recent two matches with their new head coach. Have they found a style of play where they can create goal scoring chances and finish them constantly and at a good scoring angle? One thing is certain, the last time both of these teams faced off in Guatemala; they left the field knowing that the job was not done well. Sure nobody lost but you always want to win in your home turf or as the underdog, but especially when it matters the most. Therefore making Friday’s match a continuation of what occurred on the field of Estadio Mateo Flores four years ago, unfinished business.

Copyright © 2016, BENH.TV

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