USMNT Report: The USA Makes It Look Easy

The United States breezed to victory over Guatemala ahead of the Gold Cup
by Herb Scribner   |   Friday, July 03, 2015

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States is no longer playing the role of the underdog.

In a match that was bizarre at points and a breeze at others, the United States defeated Guatemala 4-0 in front of more than 44,000 in Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday night, thanks to an own goal from Guatemala and goals from Clint Dempsey, Timmy Chandler and Chris Wondolowski.

Sure, the goals came in odd ways from unexpected players, but this breeze of a match was enough for the USA to earn a confidence boost heading into this summer's Gold Cup.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Mix Diskerud — Mix’s start over Kyle Beckerman seemed odd when the starting lineups were announced. But Mix filled the role wonderfully until he was subbed out at the 60th minute. He connected all of his passes in the first half and cleaned up the midfield on multiple occasions to win the possession back for the USA.

ANALYSIS: The game was a glimpse into a bizarro world at points. But otherwise, the USA made it look really easy against Guatemala.

That’s probably because the Yanks didn’t have too much pressure on their backs. It was a friendly against a mediocre Guatemala B-team ahead of the Gold Cup, which, as many of us know, is a marathon and not a sprint. Any result would have been good for the US, so a 4-0 definitely works for them.

The USA’s 4 goals came in very odd ways — one was an own goal, one from a rocketed shot by subpar defender Timmy Chandler, another off a PK from Clint Dempsey and the fourth off a classic Chris Wondolowski goal. A strange showing, but it’ll work for the USA.

But there’s plenty to dissect here. One of the major stories going into the match centered around USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to strap the captain’s armband on Michael Bradley over Clint Dempsey. 

But Bradley, true to form, didn’t perform well in this big game, one where all the eyes were on him. He was in the right positions, but his passes were shaky, errant and a step behind the runs. The newly-appointed captain also received a yellow card for a poor and reckless challenge. Not the best way to start his campaign as the team’s official leader. To his credit, Bradley did earn a penalty in the 71st minute. 

And Dempsey, who missed several opportunities throughout the match and appeared a step behind, scored on that penalty. Dempsey’s had a rough last few months, so the goal may be a way for him to regain confidence moving forward. He’s still a hothead, but the USA will surely take his goals for the next few months, at least.

Defensively, the USA could have done miles better. Guatemalan players, including the aged Carlos Ruiz, were left open on too many occasions throughout the match. The USA consistently gave up free kicks and chances in the box. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan was unreliable, too, barely holding onto balls and making saves a little more difficult than they needed to be.

Timmy Chandler, who scored a goal the game's second goal and was one of the main reasons this match was so bizarre, turned the ball over again and again while playing in the back, completing little defensive work for the USA. 

Omar Gonzalez, who has dropped considerably in quality since he became the LA Galaxy’s third DP a few years ago, didn’t stand strong in the center of the defense, either.

It wasn’t a strong showing for the defense, but good enough to keep a weaker Guatemalan side away from the USA.

But thankfully for the defense, the midfield passed the ball around well and maintained possession for most of the match. Unlike some USA games we’ve seen in the past, the Yanks kept the ball on the ground and made smart runs into open pockets of space. The USA clearly looked like the home team for the majority of the game, which they’ll want to continue moving forward into the Gold Cup.

One thing that didn’t work for the midfielders, though, was Gyasi Zardes. His play that led to the Chris Wondolowski goal— floating on Guatemalan's high defensive line, attacking and then touching the ball off to Wondo — was great. But that was because he was up-top. He disappeared when he was put in the midfield position, which is a poor use of his talent and a mistake in tinkering by Klinsmann. He only works as a midfielder when he pushes forward.

Still, the victory gives the Americans a confidence boost. The USA will surely have a target on its back heading into the North American soccer tournament, but if the team can continue to grind out games like this one, it’ll be difficult to see any other side in the Gold Cup shoot down this soaring American side.

NEXT UP: July 10 — 2015 Gold Cup: United States vs. Haiti, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts. TV: Fox Sports 1, UniMas


UMass Amherst
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SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.