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. Maradona’s quote after Pope’s inter-religious peace match is priceless

    Sep 1, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

    201409011528557269254 AP

    “Today two powers were brought together, the hand of God and that of the Pope,” Maradona joked. No, really. That’s what he said.

  2. Premier League Team of the Week: Find out who starred on Matchday 3

    Sep 1, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    Newcastle United v Crystal Palace - Premier League Getty Images

    From a 18-year-old Jamaican-English midfielder to a 34-year-old veteran goalkeeper, this team takes a ride through all types of players.

  3. Premier League player of the week — Round 3

    Sep 1, 2014, 9:38 PM EDT

    diego_costa Getty Images

    In the end, the player had to come from the nine-goal thriller at Goodison Park.

  4. VIDEO: Breaking down the Deadline Day deals with the NBCSN crew

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:48 PM EDT

    stambouli_730

    Rebecca Lowe, Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe bring you plenty of analysis on the summer transfer window’s Deadline Day.

  5. Premier League transfer window grades – Which team did the best business?

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    Everton v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Passing or failing? Take a gander at how each Premier League team fared.

  6. Done Deal: Radamel Falcao completes move to Manchester United

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

    Falcao AP

    Falcao signs for United, arrives on loan from Monaco with view to a permanent transfer.

  7. Done Deal: Better late than never, Arsenal seals deal with Welbeck

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:09 PM EDT

    Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck went away to London for international break, and won’t return to the club after sealing a move to Arsenal.

  8. Americans Abroad wrap: Guzan stays unbeaten, Lichaj & Bedoya thrive

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:26 PM EDT

    FC Nantes v Montpellier Herault SC - Ligue 1 Getty Images

    Nantes, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa are all surprising early-season teams, and Americans are playing big roles in each club’s success.

  9. Done Deal: Listing all the Deadline Day deals from the Premier League

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

    Ajax Amsterdam v PEC Zwolle - Johan Cruijff Shield Getty Images

    The biggest confirmed transfers on Deadline Day including Premier League teams.

  10. WATCH: Bart Simpson joins FC Zenit on deadline day; Greeted by AVB

    Sep 1, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT

    BwcxsXUCAAEscIQ

    If Andre Villas-Boas thought Emmanuel Adebayor was hard to handle, wait til he gets a load of this American character.

  11. Alvaro Negredo signs for Valencia on loan, $40 million deal in place

    Sep 1, 2014, 6:23 PM EDT

    Negredo Getty Images

    Negredo leaves City, heads back to Spain to play for Valencia.

  12. Hull City sign Gaston Ramirez on loan, agree deal for Ben Arfa

    Sep 1, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT

    Austria v Uruguay - International Friendly Match Getty Images

    Hull busy on Deadline Day as Ramirez joins on loan, plus Ben Arfa.

  13. WATCH: Own goal for ages, Zlatan hat trick key PSG win over St Etienne

    Sep 1, 2014, 5:37 PM EDT

    Paris Saint-Germain FC v AS Saint-Etienne - Ligue 1 Getty Images

    In the words of NHL commentator Rick Jeanneret, roll the highlight reel for Ibra, Cavani and PSG, and the lowlight reel for one poor keeper.

  14. Reports: Arsenal to fork over $26 mil for Manchester United’s Welbeck

    Sep 1, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer England AP

    Not a huge risk for Arsenal, but certainly a good bit of business for United. Could Welbeck become the next Daniel Sturridge?

  15. Deadline Day Transfer Rumor Roundup: 11th hour edition

    Sep 1, 2014, 4:18 PM EDT

    1409570021796_wps_117_BURNLEY_ENGLAND_AUGUST_30 Getty Images

    Jermain Defoe, Danny Welbeck and Hatem Ben Arfa all make one last run through the rumor mill as the deadline draws near.

  16. Done Deal: Daley Blind is officially a member of Manchester United

    Sep 1, 2014, 3:49 PM EDT

    _77314123_bwejvymimaacber

    The Dutch international rejoins his World Cup boss for four seasons at “the biggest club in the world.”

Featured video

Official: Welbeck signs for Arsenal