GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (April 6, 2011) -- The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team missed out on an eighth-consecutive FIFA U-20 World Cup after losing 2-1 to Guatemala on Wednesday night. Conor Doyle scored the USA's lone goal, but that was not enough to spark a come-from-behind win against a spirited Guatemala team spurred on by a partisan home crowd in the Central American nation's capital.
“Obviously we are extremely disappointed by this result,” said Rongen. “If you look at the game, you have to take your hat off to Guatemala. The home team came to play. They had a good game plan. We have to move on, and I firmly believe that within this group we have very capable players who will move on to represent our team at the senior team or Olympic level, but today wasn’t our day. It was a good host team and our team wasn’t able to click on all cylinders.”
The U.S. was the brighter of the two teams during the opening exchanges. Forward Kelyn Rowe had a few excellent chances for the visitors and was causing problems for Guatemala’s defense. Put clean through by midfielder Sebastian Lletget in the eighth minute, Rowe rounded the goalkeeper before having his shot diverted off the line by a recovering Guatemalan defender.
Minutes later Rowe was on the end of a teasing cross from Zarek Valentin, but the UCLA forward headed wide from 10 yards out.
Guatemala started to find their feet in the game and, inspired by the raucous crowd, they grew in confidence as the first half wore on. An epic goalmouth scramble resulted in midfielder Amobi Okugo putting his body on the line to make a crucial block in the 28th minute. Moments later a huge punt from Guatemala’s Jose Carlos Garcia found Henry Lopez in the USA’s 18 yard box, but the striker rolled his shot just wide of goal.
The U.S. was on their heels and after 33 minutes was behind. A corner kick from Kevin Herrarte was whipped in dangerously to the near post where Gerson Lima rose unmarked to head past a stranded Zac MacMath from close range.
Guatemala took their 1-0 lead into the break and, with the home crowd in raptures, the U.S. knew they would need a big response in the second half. Lletget went close in the 50th minute, before Doyle smashed a shot against the post five minutes later. Valentin provided the chance after some nice dribbling on the wing and Doyle turned his marker in the Guatemala box before beating the goalkeeper but not the woodwork from seven yards out.
Rongen’s team was creating the upper hand and Okugo brought the best out of Garcia in the 58th minute. The midfielder’s stinging drive from 25 yards was palmed over the goal by the diving Guatemala ‘keeper.
The pressure would eventually pay off with Doyle tying the game in the 66th minute. Okugo was the architect of the goal, picking up the ball in midfield before threading a superb pass into the path of a streaking Doyle. The forward took one touch on the edge of the box before coolly chipping the onrushing goalkeeper from 16 yards. The well-taken goal brought a hush to Estadio Mateo Flores and looked to put the U.S. in position to grab hold of the game.
Guatemala responded superbly, however, and three minutes later they were improbably in the lead once again. A gigantic goal kick from Garcia was only partially cleared by Perry Kitchen. Jose Castillo snagged the loose ball before putting teammate Henry Lopez in on goal, and the Guatemala player showed strength to hold off Agbossoumonde before poking home past a helpless MacMath. The goal, which was decidedly against the run of play, triggered a euphoric response by the crowd at Estadio Mateo Flores.
The U.S. continued to push for another equalizer but the home side was able to deal with every threat. Long throws and long balls were cleared and all 11 Guatemala players were deployed to defend dangerous set pieces in their penalty area. The committed defending paid off and the U.S. was unable to find a way through the Guatemala backline.
The final whistle brought scenes of joy for Guatemala and their fans, who celebrated the country’s first trip to the U-20 World Cup.
In the other quarterfinals, Costa Rica topped Cuba 6-1 and will be looking to defend their regional crown against Guatemala in their semifinal match on Friday, April 8. In the other semifinal pairing, Mexico, 3-0 winners against Canada, will play Panama, who upset Honduras in the quarterfinal.
The four CONCACAF teams will join the 15 teams that have already qualified for the 24-team field: Australia, Korea DPR, Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia from Asia, Austria, Croatia, England, France, Portugal and Spain from Europe, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Uruguay from South America and host Colombia.
-- U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Guatemala
Date: April 6, 2011
Competition: CONCACAF Under-20 Championship – Quarterfinal
Venue: Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores – Guatemala City, Guatemala
Kickoff: 8 p.m. local (10 p.m. ET)
Weather: 65 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
GUA 1 1 2
GUA – Gerson Lima (Kendel Herrarte) 33rd minute
USA – Conor Doyle (Amobi Okugo) 66
GUA – Henry Lopez (Jose Castillo) 69
USA: 1-Zac MacMath; 4-Moises Hernandez, 5-Perry Kitchen (capt.), 2-Gale Agbossoumonde (16-Moises Orozco, 82), 3-Zarek Valentin; 8-Sebastian Lletget, 14-Amobi Okugo, 10-Kelyn Rowe; 13-Greg Garza (17-Omar Salgado, 77), 9-Conor Doyle, 7-Joe Gyau
Subs not used: 18-Cody Cropper, 6-Dillon Powers, 8-Sebastian Ibeagha, 12-Sacir Hot, 15-Korey Veeder,
Not available: 20-Eder Arreola, 11-Bobby Wood
Head Coach: Thomas Rongen
GUA: 21-Jose Carlos Garcia; 3-Manuel Moreno, 4-William Ramirez, 5-Elias Enoc (capt.), 6-Jose Del Aguila, 7-Marvin Ceballos (10-Kevin Norales, 73), 8-Jose Castillo, 9-Henry Lopez (18-Abner Bonilla, 79), 11-Kevin Herrarte, 14-Jose Lemus, 20-Gerson Lima (16-Cristian Lima, 46)
Subs not used: 1-Diego Chacon, 2-Jose Andrade, 15-Sixto Betancourt, 17-Marco Tulio Rivas
Not available: 12-Jose Carlos Morales, 19-Jonathan Rodriguez
Head Coach: Hugo Ever Almeida
Stats Summary: USA / GUA
Shots: 10 / 9
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Saves: 3 / 4
Corner Kicks: 6 / 6
Offside: 6 / 0
USA – Greg Garza (caution) 74th minute
USA – Zarek Valentin (caution) 90+2
USA - Omar Salgado (caution) 90+3
Referee: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Victor Calderon (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Rodas (HON)
Fourth Official: Jose Molina (HON)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: