The United States Men's National Team silenced its critics, as it routed Guatemala 4-0 in Columbus, four days after losing 2-0 in Guatemala City.
The game began at break-neck speed with the U.S. looking to establish an early lead. The opening 10 minutes were characterized by constant changes in possession and several fouls.
The fans at MAPFRE Stadium were able to breathe a sigh of relief when Clint Dempsey opened the scoring in the 12th minute.
Geoff Cameron played a beautiful long ball to a falling Gyasi Zardes, who headed the ball backwards to an unmarked Clint Dempsey. Dempsey made no mistake as he buried the ball in the back of the net from 14 yards out.
The U.S. then began to dominate possession but despite spending plenty of time in the attacking third, the USMNT created few dangerous chances.
Guatemala had its only shot in the first half in the 33rd minute, but Stefano Cincotta sent a weak curling effort straight into Brad Guzan's hands.
Soon after Cincotta's shot, the U.S. was able to double its lead, via a Geoff Cameron header. Bobby Wood won a free-kick 25 yards out from goal on the left wing and Michael Bradley delivered an in swinging ball to Cameron, who outran his marker and scored with ease.
Minutes before halftime Bobby Wood looked set to further the U.S.' lead, only to miss a sitter. Wood used his hand to control a pass that put him one-on-one with keeper and hesitated, looking for a whistle that never came. Wood sent a horrible effort so wide of the net that it managed to stay in play.
The U.S. went into the locker room with a solid, but not insurmountable 2-0 lead.
To begin the second-half, Guatemala subbed on offensive threats Carlos Ruiz and Marco Pappa for Mafre Icuté and Stefano Cincotta, respectively.
Just one minute after the second half kicked off, the U.S. furthered its lead through a Graham Zusi tap-in. DeAndre Yedlin came streaking down the right-wing and played a ball inside the eighteen to Gyasi Zardes. Zardes failed to control the pass, but his errant touch fell to Graham Zusi who blasted the ball home.
Guatemala began to finally settle down in the second-half and started to better possess the ball, but failed to create genuine scoring chances.
With the U.S. coasting, Jurgen Klinsmann subbed in Jozy Altidore for a tired Bobby Wood. While Wood missed an easy scoring opportunity, his tireless running down the left wing made life difficult for the Guatemalan defense all night.
Ethan Finlay then entered the match for Gyasi Zardes in the 71st minute. Seventeen year old phenomenon Christian Pulisic came on for Graham Zusi in the 81 minute, becoming cap-tied to the U.S.
Soon after Pulisic's entrance, Ethan Finlay looked to have scored a fourth for the U.S. but the goal was disallowed for offside.
The U.S. found a fourth goal, in the 89th minute through a Jozy Altidore strike. Clint Dempsey dispossessed Rodrigo Saravia and then charged towards the net, drawing Paulo Motta out of goal before laying the ball off to Jozy Altidore. Altidore blasted the ball into the upper 90 for his 34th international goal.
The USMNT and Jurgen Klinsmann answered many of the questions asked of them in its convincing 4-0 rout of Guatemala. With the victory the U.S. now looks poised to qualify for the Hexagonal Round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.
U.S. Looked Like a Completely Different Team
The U.S. performance wasn't perfect, but the team played drastically better in this second qualifier against Guatemala. The defense was barely tested, thanks to excellent pressure from the U.S. midfield and forwards. The offense had an efficient performance with four different goal scorers, scoring off of all but one of the USMNT's shots on target.
The U.S. needs to find consistency to truly become one of the better teams in the world. While this performance was excellent, inconsistency has plagued the U.S. for too long and it will take more than one good match to change that.
Geoff Cameron is the Best U.S. Center-Back
Geoff Cameron has been playing at a high-level in the Premier League since 2013. He is a solid one-v-one defender and is a constant aerial goal scoring threat. Cameron is a veteran center-back who is and has been the best center-back in the USMNT player pool for the past few years.
Despite Cameron's consistent and stellar play, he has been far from an automatic starter under Jurgen Klinsmann. Cameron had an excellent performance tonight, and while he was rarely tested he has proven his worth in countless other matches. Cameron should be a permanent fixture in the USMNT Starting XI.
Klinsmann's Job is Safe
Jurgen Klinsmann may not be the right man for the USMNT head coaching position. While many fans will not question his coaching prowess until the next disastrous loss, this performance should not silence all concerns. Guatemala is the 95th ranked national team in the world.
Trinidad and Tobago defeated Guatemala 2-1 in Guatemala City. The U.S. is far better than Trinidad and Tobago on paper and should always achieve better results than Trinidad and Tobago. Klinsmann still calls in out of form players and while he didn't do this much tonight, he constantly plays players out of position.
This performance buys Klinsmann some time, but a deeper assessment of his role as coach of the USMNT and technical director of U.S. Soccer is still needed.