Jun 12, 2012, 12:20 PM EST
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.
Jan 26, 2015, 4:05 PM EST
After eight months without a club, Juan Agudelo is reportedly returning to the place he should have been all along: MLS.
Jan 26, 2015, 2:59 PM EST
As the soccer world will no longer see the maverick skills of the Argentine playmaker, here’s a look at some of his best moments.
Jan 26, 2015, 2:38 PM EST
Here’s the draw for the last 16 of the FA Cup, as PL big boys get more tough tests.
Jan 26, 2015, 1:57 PM EST
Van Praag announces his intentions to run against Blatter, says he has the backing of five federations.
Jan 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
Betting on five underdogs away from home in the FA Cup will win you serious cash.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:32 PM EST
Fagundez explains why he couldn’t wait any longer to select his national team.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EST
If Wolfsburg can agree a fee for Schurrle, should he leave Stamford Bridge?
Jan 26, 2015, 11:26 AM EST
Carver will take charge for the final 16 games of the season… but what then?
Jan 26, 2015, 9:55 AM EST
Red Bulls attacker heading to Abu Dhabi?
Jan 26, 2015, 9:20 AM EST
The signing of two Venezuelan youngsters could put Real in plenty of trouble with FIFA, as Barcelona-esque transfer ban could be on the cards.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:34 AM EST
The Koreans will face either Australia or the UAE in Saturday’s final in Sydney.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:00 AM EST
All the latest gossip, right here.
Jan 25, 2015, 11:33 PM EST
“I am concerned, not because of Chelsea but because we didn’t score in our last two home games,” Pellegrini said.
Jan 25, 2015, 10:50 PM EST
The 33-year-old Cameroonian striker joins a Sampdoria side currently tied for third in the table with 34 points.
Jan 25, 2015, 10:13 PM EST
“If he’s not ready for Tuesday then he’ll be back, for sure, against West Ham next weekend,” Rodgers said.
Jan 25, 2015, 9:22 PM EST
Maloney turned 32 on Saturday and will be unveiled by Chicago on Monday.
Jan 25, 2015, 8:31 PM EST
Sepp Blatter: Kind of like “The Godfather”. But let’s be clear, we’re talking “The Godfather: Part III”.
Jan 25, 2015, 7:40 PM EST
What else is cooking? Glad you asked.
Jan 25, 2015, 6:30 PM EST
There’s a new top-four team in Spain, while little has changed in Italy, both for good and bad.
Jan 25, 2015, 4:28 PM EST
Two of eight quarterfinals places were clinched on Sunday as the late drama continues at AFCON 2015.
- Report: Juan Agudelo close to signing with his former MLS team, New England Revolution 0
- Head of Dutch FA, Michael van Praag, will challenge Blatter for FIFA presidency 0
- Newcastle United name John Carver head coach until end of 2014-15 season 0
- Transfer ban for Real Madrid? Probe launched after signing of Venezuelan kids 3
- Transfer rumor roundup: Ings to Tottenham Hotspur, Busquets to Manchester United 0
- Rodgers: Sturridge could face Chelsea in League Cup, certain to be back for Saturday vs. West Ham 0