Skip to content

U.S. vs. Guatemala “looks so easy.” Except that it isn’t

Jun 12, 2012, 12:20 PM EDT

Estadio Flores

It’s hard for outsiders to understand. How can it be that such a tiny land, so preciously short on resources, can be such a burr in the butt of a giant land like the United States in any athletic competition?

But rest assured, tonight’s contest in Guatemala City, both nations’ second World Cup qualifier in this semifinal round, is one tough-as-Kevlar assignment.

For one, the obvious: it’s 11 against 11. And Guatemala has some talent. (More on that later.)

But it’s mostly about the environment, one that rates a clear 11 on the 1-10 scale of intimidating and hostile surroundings. The Sporting News’ Brian Straus takes a good look at what a match in Guatemala looks like.

Last week in Tampa, several U.S. players and staff told me that these CONCACAF matches in Central America and the Caribbean are not equally laden with hostility and difficulties. None of them look like a day at the spa – but some are decidedly less spa-like than others. Guatemala ranks high on the list of difficult spots.

Says U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard in Straus’ piece: “On paper, it looks so easy.”

And then says for U.S. international Taylor Twellman in the piece: “It’s chaos. There’s no doubt about it.”

U.S. Soccer’s travel staff makes its best effort to establish a safe and restful environment in and around the team hotel. (A U.S. Soccer staffer told me there would most certainly be no morning walk through the neighborhood, a usual game-day practice under Jurgen Klinsmann.)

Still, as the Sporting News story points out, fans get creative:

Twellman referenced 4:00 a.m. wake-up calls, but that’s just the beginning. There may be musicians in the lobby. On a past trip to Guatemala, a radio station staged a late-night “promotion” outside the U.S. hotel, complete with loudspeakers. Several years ago, before a qualifier in Honduras, a local newspaper published a hotel floor plan in order to assist readers wishing to create a disturbance for the Americans.”

Also check out the video I put up earlier this morning, a demonstration of the heavily armed police presence in and around these matches.

Fun stuff, indeed.

Latest Posts
  1. Eden Hazard set to sign extension at Chelsea

    Sep 17, 2014, 7:37 AM EDT

    Chelsea v Swansea City - Premier League Getty Images

    Manager Jose Mourinho believes the Belgian international will have a new deal in place at Stamford Bridge within a month.

  2. Portland, DC United both win in CONCACAF Champions League play

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT

    Urruti AP

    Maxi Urruti and Fabian Espindola both snatched braces as MLS sides went atop their groups.

  3. Iran manager Carlos Queiroz agrees to contract extension, vows to win Asia Cup

    Sep 16, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT

    Queiroz Getty Images

    Despite saying in June he would step down after the World Cup, the former Real Madrid manager has made a U-turn.

  4. Captain Clint fires Seattle Sounders to US Open Cup crown in 3-1 extra time win over Philadelphia

    Sep 16, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    Dempsey AP

    USMNT captain Clint Dempsey was Seattle’s savior in extra time as he delivered the winner in a 3-1 win and lifted his first-ever club trophy.

  5. Michael Bradley disagrees with president’s shot at Toronto roster

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

    Bradley AP

    President of Toronto’s ownership group, Tim Leiweke had harsh words for the Toronto FC locker room. Michael Bradley disagrees.

  6. Report: FA to overhaul work permit rules to cut down on non-EU players

    Sep 16, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

    Dyke Getty Images

    Insanely strict new rules proposed by FA chairman Greg Dyke would eliminate non-EU players from the lower leagues completely and slash the amount in the Premier League by around 50%.

  7. Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez reveals he has cancer

    Sep 16, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT

    Gutierrez AP

    We now know why Jonas Gutierrez has barely featured for Newcastle in the last year or so.

  8. Jack Wilshere injured yet again to compound Arsenal’s woes

    Sep 16, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT

    Wilshere AP

    The man who can’t stay on the pitch has tweaked a very problematic part of his body.

  9. VIDEO: Real Madrid make history, notch 1000th goal in European competition

    Sep 16, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT

    Karim Benzema AP

    Benzema bags Real’s fifth goal on Tuesday, which turned out to be their 1000th goal in continental competitions. Wowza.

  10. Steven Gerrard saves Liverpool’s blushes; but should fans be worried?

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    Liverpool FC v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Gerrard scores last-gasp winner, but Liverpool under-performed again in narrow win.

  11. Arteta: Arsenal “didn’t perform well enough” at Borussia Dortmund

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:27 PM EDT

    mikel_arteta_ciro_immobile

    Arsenal’s captain notes the danger of falling behind at BVB, while Klopp calls his teams performance “nearly perfection.”

  12. UEFA Champions League roundup: Liverpool win late; Real Madrid, Dortmund victorious

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Contrasting fortunes for PL sides, as eight games kick off the new UCL season. Find out what happened, right here.

  13. Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Arsenal: Gunners outclassed by BVB

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    ciro_immobile AP

    A dominant performance from the 2012-13 finalists made easy work of the visiting Gunners.

  14. Liverpool 2-1 Ludogorets: Gerrard grabs last-gasp winner after scare

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:44 PM EDT

    Liverpool FC v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Dramatic finale at Anfield as Liverpool leave it late to beat Bulgarian minnows.

  15. Premier League player of month on pace for 67 goals (video)

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Chelsea Training & Press Conference Getty Images

    Okay, so it’s 66.5 goals but you know the rules of rounding and Diego Costa is your proverbial example of being on fire.

  16. LIVE – Champions League half time update: Real Madrid flying, Arsenal losing

    Sep 16, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    Marek Suchy AP

    Real fly out of the traps, while Arsenal are caught on their heels. Updates on all eight games, right here.

  17. When Frank Lampard met Men In Blazers

    Sep 16, 2014, 3:08 PM EDT

    Source: New York City FC Source: New York City FC

    Remember that time Jose Mourinho told Frank Lampard he was the best player in the world … in the shower? No? Oh, right. That’s because you have to watch this.

  18. Orlando City announces retention of 7 players for first MLS season

    Sep 16, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    OrlandoCitySC.com OrlandoCitySC.com

    Kaka was obvious, but who else is making the move from USL PRO to Major League Soccer next season?

  19. Open Cup final preview: Is a championship coming to Philly tonight?

    Sep 16, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    Brad Evans, Maurice Edu AP

    The fairly-even history between Philadelphia and Seattle meets at a momentous crossroads tonight at PPL Park in Chester.

  20. AP Global 10 poll hails Atletico as Champions League group stage opens

    Sep 16, 2014, 1:29 PM EDT

    Diego Simeone AP

    Manchester United, Aston Villa leap up the list after impressive wins on the weekend.

Featured video

Week 4: Saturday recap