Skip to content

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

Jun 12, 2012, 12:20 PM EST

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. Arsene Wenger on loss to Manchester United: ‘We dominated 80 percent of the time’

    Nov 22, 2014, 5:15 PM EST

    Everton v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    His squad controlling possession and gathering a fair amount of chances on goal, Arsene Wenger believes his side deserved a better result against Manchester United.

  2. Premier League Sunday preview: Liverpool, Spurs take to road to face fellow strugglers Palace, Hull

    Nov 22, 2014, 5:03 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    One game is a rematch of the 3-3 draw that left Luis Suarez in tears, but both Palace and Liverpool have much bigger things to worry about.

  3. Bundesliga roundup: Gotze, Lewandowski lead Bayern rout; Reus hurt in BVB draw

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:45 PM EST

    Germany Soccer Bundesliga AP

    Elsewhere, USMNT defenders Timmy Chandler (right) and John Anthony Brooks picked up wins in 90 minutes each for their clubs.

  4. Alan Pardew, Newcastle organization wishing the best for Ryan Taylor’s recovery

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:25 PM EST

    alan_pardew Getty Images

    Despite an wonderful 1-0 result over QPR to keep their winning run alive, Alan Pardew feels the pain of Ryan Taylor’s sudden injury.

  5. “Always annoyed” Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho: “At halftime it should be four or five nil”

    Nov 22, 2014, 3:38 PM EST

    Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    This season, he has all his players and no excuses. So The Special One is a little ticked off that his Blues aren’t pouring forth goals to match their dominant play.

  6. Alan Irvine calls Costa goal offside, bright spot was spectacular Ben Foster

    Nov 22, 2014, 3:35 PM EST

    alan_irvine Getty Images

    Irvine: “We actually went a goal down to a goal which I thought was offside and that makes life very difficult here.”

  7. Marquee win proves van Gaal’s Manchester United on the right track

    Nov 22, 2014, 3:32 PM EST

    Van Gaal was disappointed his team couldn't hand Chelsea their first defeat of the season. Getty Images

    Red Devils surge to victory away at Arsenal, as LVG’s masterplan is taking shape.

  8. MUST-WATCH: Lionel Messi ties La Liga goals record with fitting free kick

    Nov 22, 2014, 2:51 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-SEVILLA Getty Images

    And there’s still time Saturday to make the record his own, as the game is just at halftime.

  9. Three things we learned from Manchester United’s big win at Arsenal

    Nov 22, 2014, 2:34 PM EST

    Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League

    What did we learn from United’s big win at the Emirates? Plenty. But here’s three things.

  10. Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United: Too little too late for Giroud and the chance-squandering Gunners

    Nov 22, 2014, 2:28 PM EST

    Rooney bagged what turned out to be the game-winner as United go fourth. Getty Images

    A testy affair that could’ve gotten Jack Wilshere a red card instead got him injured, and Arsenal had no finish at the Emirates.

  11. Klopp on Premier League: “If somebody will call me, then we will talk about it.”

    Nov 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    Germany Soccer Bundesliga AP

    Klopp has been at Dortmund since 2008 when he arrived from Mainz, and would likely have his choice of jobs should Dortmund let him walk.

  12. Leicester City 0-0 Sunderland: Stalemate between relegation candidates

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:14 PM EST

    Leicester City v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    Foxes and Black Cats cancel each other out at the King Power.

  13. Manchester City 2-1 Swansea City: Champs come back to take the points off game Swans

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:06 PM EST

    Lucasz Fabianski, Stevan Jovetic AP

    Bafetimbi Gomis should’ve put Swansea City level five minutes from time, but he tipped the ball over Hart and wide of the goal.

  14. Stoke City 1-2 Burnley: Clarets grab back-to-back wins, move off the bottom

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:04 PM EST

    Danny Ings Danny Ings

    Clarets stun Potters with first away win of the season.

  15. Watch Live: Arsenal vs. Manchester United (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 22, 2014, 12:01 PM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-ARSENAL-MAN UTD

    Arsenal is in sixth place, one point ahead of Manchester United.

  16. Newcastle United 1-0 QPR: Sissoko finally beats sensational Green to send Magpies fourth

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:58 AM EST

    Newcastle United v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League Getty Images

    Win puts Newcastle into 4th in the Premier League after spending the first 2 months of the season in the relegation zone, where QPR remains.

  17. Everton 2-1 West Ham United: Osman’s strike seals win for resurgent Toffees

    Nov 22, 2014, 11:57 AM EST

    Toffees end West Ham’s unbeaten run, as Osman’s late goal proves the difference.

Featured video

Preview: Arsenal vs. Manchester United