COMMERCE CITY, Colorado (Nov. 19, 2008) — The U.S. Men’s National Team recorded their seventh victory in eight 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, downing Guatemala 2-0 in front of 9,303 fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. Second-half goals from Kenny Cooper and Freddy Adu paced the U.S. during a solid performance in their final match of the Semifinal Round of CONCACAF qualifying.
Despite fielding a fairly young and inexperienced squad, the U.S. was composed and it was the young players who stepped up to provide the victory. Jozy Altidore was dangerous throughout the night and provided a deft pass for the assist on Cooper’s opening goal, while Adu showed his ability to finish with a well-taken free kick to seal the victory. All together, six players – Jonathan Bornstein, Ricardo Clark, Kenny Cooper, Clarence Goodson, Michael Parkhurst and John Thorrington – earned their first start in a World Cup qualifier.
The U.S. finished atop Group 1 with 15 points, and will move on to the Final Round along with Trinidad & Tobago, who defeated Cuba 2-0 to earn second place in the group. In addition to the United States and Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico also advanced to the Final Round.
The draw to determine the placement of teams in the CONCACAF Final Round hexagonal for 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying will take place on Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET) in Johannesburg. Teams will learn their opponents as well as home and away dates for all 10 Final Round qualifiers that will determine the three automatic berths for CONCACAF in 2010 in South Africa.
“It's a good way for us to finish up this round,” said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley. “It caps a successful run, and now we focus on the challenge ahead. There was an opportunity tonight to see some different players and, as always, there were some things that were positive and some things that need work. Al in all it was a good night for us.”
While Guatemala needed a victory to keep their hopes of advancement alive, it was the U.S. who came out the aggressors, mixing energy with patience, possession and movement. The U.S. found success through balls over the top, as well as the overlapping runs of Thorrington and Bornstein.
The U.S. outshot Guatemala 7-3 in the first half, creating several good opportunities. In the seventh minute, Ricardo Clark looped a fine ball over the top to Altidore, who fought off the challenge of Yony Flores and pushed a shot just wide.
Six minutes later, it was Altidore’s turn to try and assist. Kljestan sliced a perfectly weighted through ball to Altidore, and with the keeper closing he elected to try and pick out Cooper at the far post, only to see his pass cleared away by the Guatemalan defense.
Adu got his first look of the game in the 16th minute with a 20-yard strike that was just over the bar. Two minutes later, Adu again peppered the frame, this time with a bit more creativity as he slalomed up the middle of the field before unleashing a shot towards the left post that was saved by Jerez. Kljestan pounced on the rebound, but Jerez was able to recover and smother the second opportunity.
Cooper and Thorrington, earning just his third cap and first qualifying cap, both appeared to have created looks on goal only to be overruled by the referee crew. Darting through the right side of the penalty area in the 22nd minute, Thorrington was taken down by a defender near the endline, but no call was made by referee Benito Archundia. Ten minutes later, Cooper got behind the Guatemalan defense to hit a header off the crossbar, but he was called for offside.
The U.S. turned up the dial early on in the second half, with Altidore demonstrating his abilities by chesting down a cross at the top of the box, and then darting towards goal, but he hurried his shot and it went over the bar.
Cooper opened the scoring in the 54th minute, finishing off a nifty through ball from Jozy Altidore. Altidore controlled the ball at the top of the area before slotting a ball into the stride of Cooper, who drove the ball through the legs of Ricardo Jerez to score his second goal in three international appearances.
Adu, Ricardo Clark and Pablo Mastroeni also got into the mix with strikes from outside as the U.S. took control of the match. Mastroeni, who captained the U.S. tonight in his 62nd appearance, nearly got his first international goal in the 64th minute when he rifled a drive from 30 yards that forced Jerez to parry wide. Mastroeni was shown a caution in the 78th minute, forcing him to miss the first match of the final round of qualifying.
A minute later, Kljestan nearly doubled the lead on a combination that he started, finding Adu, who slipped a ball wide to Cooper. His cross was misplayed by Cristian Noriega, and Kljestan’s sliding attempt was barely pawed away by Jerez.
Adu made it 2-0 in the 69th minute on a well-placed free kick from 22 yards. After Altidore earned the foul, Adu and Kljestan lined up over the ball. With Kljestan running over, Adu hit a bender to the upper left corner that fooled Jerez and notched his first career goal for the full team.
After taking the 2-0 lead on Adu’s free kick, the U.S. defense clamped down on Guatemala’s weakened attack to close out the shutout, but Guatemala was able to muster up their best effort of the night in the 85th minute. Pushing into the penalty area, Avila was able to hit a cross back across the 18-yard line to Ramirez who cut to his left and hit a 12-yard strike, but Guzan reacted well to make the save and it was cleared from danger. Guzan recorded his third clean sheet in four World Cup qualifying matches this year.
During the Final Round draw on Saturday, the U.S. will learn their 10-game schedule during 2009, which will kick off on Feb. 11. The U.S. will also have games on March 28, April 1, June 3, June 6, August 12, Sept. 5, Sept. 9, Oct. 10 and Oct. 14.
Following the announcement of the CONCACAF Final Round draw, FIFA will conduct the draw for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup that will be held from June 14-28 in South Africa. The United States will participate along with hosts South Africa, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, New Zealand and Spain.
-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match: USA vs. Guatemala
Date: November 19, 2008
Competition: 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Semifinal Round
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park – Commerce City, Colo.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. MT
Weather: 52 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
Guatemala 0 0 0
USA – Kenny Cooper (Jozy Altidore) 54th minute.
USA – Freddy Adu 69.
USA: 18-Brad Guzan; 5-John Thorrington, 3-Clarence Goodson, 15-Michael Parkhurst, 2-Jonathan Bornstein; 10-Freddy Adu (7-Davy Arnaud, 83), 4-Pablo Mastroeni (capt.), 13-Ricardo Clark, 16-Sacha Kljestan; 9-Kenny Cooper (8-Conor Casey, 76), 14-Jozy Altidore (11-Brian Ching, 76)
Subs Not Used: 1-Troy Perkins, 6-Drew Moor, 12-Cory Gibbs, 17-Chris Rolfe
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
GUA: 18-Ricardo Jerez, 2- Carlos Castrillo, 3-Cristian Noriega , 4-Yony Flores, 7-Claudio Albizuris, 9-Mario
Acevedo (17-Minor Lopez, 74), 10-Guillermo Ramirez, 12-Carlos Figueroa (8-Marco Pappa, 57), 13-Carlos Castillo, 16-Jean Marquez, 11-Marvin Avila
Subs Not Used: 1-Luis Molina, 5-Jaime Vides, 6-Wilson Lalin, 14-Carlos Vasquez, 15-Fredy
Head Coach: Benjamin Monterroso
Stats Summary: USA / GUA
Shots 16 / 6
Shots on Goal 11 / 3
Saves 3 / 9
Corner Kicks 6 / 4
Fouls 13 / 17
Offside 3 / 4
USA – Ricardo Clark (caution) 55th minute.
GUA – Yony Flores (caution) 68.
USA – Pablo Mastroeni (caution) 78.
Referee: Benito Archundia (MEX)
AR1: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
AR2: Marvin Rivera (MEX)
4th: Paul Enrique Delgadillo Haro (MEX)
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: