U.S. Men Earn Historic World Cup Qualifying Win in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (Aug. 20, 2008) – The U.S. Men’s National Team earned their first-ever FIFA World Cup qualifying win in Guatemala on Wednesday night behind a Carlos Bocanegra goal after both sides had been reduced to 10 men in a physical match that produced seven yellow cards, two red cards and 40 total fouls. The victory was the first for the United States in Guatemala since 1988, and marked their third-straight shutout victory in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard starred between the pipes, making seven saves and more importantly controlling his area both in the air and on the ground. He earned his third shutout in four World Cup qualifying appearances.

"It was a very hard fought game, and for us a hard earned three points," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. "The win is based more on the determination of our team. Sometimes it's necessary to win games in that way. It was a game where we relied on the effort, team spirit, and the mentality of the group. Our experienced players have made the point to the team that qualifying is always difficult away from home. You have to expect games to be very tough. We have played some tough games in the last year, but none of them are qualifiers. To experience it and to win in that fashion is good for the group."

An afternoon rainstorm soaked an already wet field, creating a slippery and heavy surface. The chippy first half generated more yellow cards than shots on goal. Steve Cherundolo, Clint Dempsey and Pablo Mastroeni were all booked in the first 33 minutes, as was Guatemala’s Guillermo Ramirez. Carlos Ruiz put two shots on goal, one of which forced Howard to make a diving save, and Michael Bradley had the lone U.S. shot on goal which went directly to goalkeeper Ricardo Trigueno.

In the first 15 minutes of the second half, Guatemala created some of their best chances of the match with the first five shots of the half and other chances as space opened on the wings and in front of the U.S. back line. Things got trickier when Cherundolo pulled down Fredy Garcia near midfield and was shown his second yellow card of the game.

The fortunes reversed just three minutes after Guatemala took the man advantage with the U.S. rushing to bring on Frankie Hejduk to provide cover at right back. On a long ball out of the back, Eddie Lewis looked to flick the ball on when he was violently met by Guatemala’s Gustavo Cabrera, who came flying in from the blind side with his elbow up. The two crashed heads, with Lewis falling to the ground with a gash on his forehead that required five stitches to close. Cabrera was shown a red card as soon as he regained his feet.

Bob Bradley quickly went to his bench, bringing on DaMarcus Beasley in addition to Hejduk, and the move quickly paid dividends.

As Lewis headed to the locker room for more medical treatment, the U.S. quickly took an advantage that they would not relinquish. Landon Donovan drew a foul in the attacking third, his first free kick was stopped by the arm of Jose Manuel Contreras, who earned a yellow card for his transgression. On the next free kick, Donovan sent in a perfect ball to Oguchi Onyewu, who forced Trigueno to make his best save of the game tipping his headed ball over the crossbar.

On the ensuing corner, Beasley curled the ball into the center of the area. As Onyewu was ridden down at the near post, Bocanegra used Brian Ching to set the perfect pick and he was wide open to head the ball inside the far post. It was Bocanegra’s second career World Cup qualifying goal and 10th of his international career.

Down the stretch the U.S. held strong, with Howard being called to action several times to come off his line. Guatemala missed their best chance after Yony Flores shanked a left-footed shot at the far post in the 74th minute.

Eight minutes later, Carlos Gallardo challenged Howard at the far post with a low shot. The U.S. goalkeeper smothered the shot, but a charging Ruiz kicked the U.S. goalkeeper as he challenged for a rebound that wasn’t there. After the foul was called, Howard returned to his feet and was given a yellow card for shouting at Ruiz, who mysteriously was not shown a card on the play.

The U.S. held some possession and defended with savvy through the final minutes of the game, including four minutes of stoppage time. Midfielder Maurice Edu earned his first World Cup qualifying cap, coming on in the 78th minute for Mastroeni.

With the red card, the U.S. will be without the services of Cherundolo for the next qualifier in Havana vs. Cuba on Sept. 6. That match will be broadcast live on ESPN Classic and Galavision at 8 p.m. ET. That match is the first of two in a double match date that will include the USA’s first home qualifier of the semifinal round on Sept. 10 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. (tickets).

After MatchDay 1, the U.S. is in second place of Group 1 behind Trinidad & Tobago, 3-1 winners against Cuba. By earning yellow cards in the match, Dempsey, Mastroeni, and Howard join Onyewu – who carries a yellow from the Barbados second round series – on the list of players who will earn a one game suspension if they receive another caution in future qualifying matches.  

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Participants: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Guatemala
Competition: World Cup Qualifying – Semifinal Round
Location: Estadio Mateo Flores – Guatemala City, Guatemala
Date: August 20, 2008
Attendance: 25,000

Scoring Summary:
            1st      2nd      Final
USA     0          1            1
GUA     0          0            0

USA – Carlos Bocanegra (DaMarcus Beasley) 69th minute

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 15-Heath Pearce, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra, 6-Steve Cherundolo; 10-Landon Donovan, 12-Michael Bradley, 4-Pablo Mastroeni (13-Maurice Edu, 78), 7-Eddie Lewis (17-DaMarcus Beasley, 65); 11-Brian Ching, 8-Clint Dempsey (2-Frankie Hejduk, 65)
Subs Not Used: 18-Brad Guzan, 9-Eddie Johnson, 14-Jay DeMerit, 16-Sacha Kljestan
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

GUA: 1-Ricardo Trigueno; 4-Yony Flores, 14-Luis Rodriguez, 7-Mario Rodriguez, 11-Guillermo Ramirez, 9-Carlos Ruiz, 5-Carlos Gallardo, 6-Gustavo Cabrera, 10-Freddy Garcia (2-Carlos Castrillo, 66), 15-Fredy Thompson (12-Jean Marquez, 64), 16-Jose Manuel Contreras (13-Marco Pablo Pappa, 74)
Subs Not Used: 18-Luis Molina, 3-Cristian Noriega, 8-Gonzalo Romero, 17-Dwight Pezzarossi
Head Coach: Ramon Maradiaga

Statistical Summary: 
                    USA / GUA
Shots                    9 / 16
Shots on Goal     3 / 7
Saves                    2 / 7
Fouls                   17 / 23
Corner Kicks        3 / 3
Offside                  3 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Steve Cherundolo (caution) 17th minute
GUA - Guillermo Ramirez (caution) 27.
USA – Clint Dempsey (caution) 27.
USA – Pablo Mastroeni (caution) 33.
USA – Steve Cherundolo (caution) 60.
USA – Steve Cherundolo (ejection) 60.
GUA – Gustavo Cabrera (ejection) 63.
GUA – Jose Manuel Contreras (caution) 68.
USA – Tim Howard (caution) 83.

Match Officials
Referee: Enrico Wijngaarde (Suriname)
AR1: Dion Inniss (Guyana)
AR2: Anthony Garwood (Jamaica)
4th Official: Jerry Budel (Suriname)

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MNT Aug 21, 2008