Prior to the USA vs Antigua game last week, I was amazed by the reaction of US fans who couldn’t understand why the 2-1 scoreline was so close. I wasn’t surprised in the slightest as this game was played on a cricket field which had been battered by rain, which continued through the match itself, making the playing surface very difficult. Considering the poor form of the USA in away matches, particularly in the hostile environment of Central America, this result was welcomed by US coach Jurgen Klinsmann. He knew how tough this match was and his team showed that they did not take this challenge lightly. Solid defensively, although exposed at times particularly on conceding the goal, they took their chances thanks to a resurgent Eddie Johnson who probably cemented his starting spot for Tuesday. It seems like the MLS players in the USMNT saved Klinsmann’s skin again !
It’s my view that Tuesday’s match against Guatemala will be a tough game too. I watched the Guatemala vs Jamaica game on Friday and the Central American side are no push overs. They are somewhat physical and in Carlos Figueroa, they have a very skillful midfielder who can hurt you. He scored an incredible goal to give his country a 1-0 lead.
One aspect of this game that I had noticed is that if this match ends in a draw, both the USA and Guatemala would qualify for the Final Group stages of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. Will the issue of match-fixing rear it’s ugly head here ? Anyone remember “The Shame of Gijon” ?