Guatemala 2 United States 0: Minnows shock poor visitors
The United States passed up an opportunity to move to the top of Group C in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying as they suffered a shock 2-0 loss to Guatemala.
Rafael Morales and Carlos Ruiz scored early goals for the hosts as they took full advantage of some shocking defending from USA, who lost to Guatemala for the first time since 1988.
USA were expected to be comfortable winners against the plucky Guatemalans, who had won one and lost another of their previous two matches in the fourth round of qualifying.
But the home side were solid in defence and brave enough in attack to make the most of their chances to pile further pressure on USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
The visitors brought a strong side to the table, with USA national team mainstays Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard all selected by Klinsmann, but despite their international experience they could not stop their team from falling to an early deficit.
Jozy Altidore was left on the bench as Klinsmann opted for a front two of Dempsey and Bobby Wood, with Alejandro Bedoya and DeAndre Yedlin manning the left and right wings respectively.
Paulo Motta was picked for his third-straight qualifier in goals for Guatemala and he proved outstanding as he made a number of crucial second-half saves to help deliver the incredible win.
USA were shocked early on as the Guatemalans threw everything at them, but it was ultimately their own costly mistakes that proved decisive.
An avoidable corner provided the opening for the home side’s first as Morales rose highest to nod home via the back of Mix Diskerud, with the ball trickling beyond the grasp of the despairing Howard after just seven minutes.
Wood was inches away from equalising for USA just four minutes later, but he could not get on the end of a dangerous cross.
The miss proved costly as Ruiz doubled Guatemala’s unlikely lead when he took advantage of some awful defending.
Diskerud’s rough game continued when he sent an attempted defensive header backwards towards his own goal.
USA defenders behind him had switched off as the defensive line moved forward, with only Ruiz gambling on the ball slipping through and he was richly rewarded as it came his way to send him through one-on-one with Howard, making no mistake with the finish.
The visitors worked hard to get back into the game before half-time but struggled to carve out clear-cut chances, but that would change in the second half.
A good opening 10 minutes saw USA carve out three good chances, but Motta was up to all of them, first denying Dempsey and Diskerud from close range as a he pulled off a superb double save, and again four minutes later when the former was found unmarked in the area only to hammer his shot straight at the keeper.
Despite the promising start to the half, USA were lucky not to go 3-0 down when Morales got on the end of another corner and flicked his header beyond Howard, but this time only finding the crossbar.
Motta was at it again as he denied substitute Altidore from a tight angle, ensuring a clean sheet and a memorable win for his side, just Guatemala’s fifth in 26 matches against USA.