US held to scoreless draw by stubborn Guatemala

Frisco, TX (Sports Network) – Bob Bradley’s unbeaten record remained in tact on Wednesday night at Pizza Hut Park, but it was not the result that the interim coach of the United States National Team was looking for, as his side was held to a 0-0 draw by Guatemala.

Bradley became the first coach in United States history to win his first three games, but a defensive-minded Guatemala side did not allow him to make it a fourth.

Bradley sent a young lineup out for the game, with defenders Jay DeMerit and Frank Simek making their international debut. The back line was anchored by Jimmy Conrad, but was rarely tested, as the visitors put one striker up top and let the other 10 players drop back to defend.

Guatemala came out clogging up the midfield and making it difficult for the Americans to generate any consistent attack. The first chance of the game was created by Justin Mapp of the United States. The midfielder took possession of the ball on the left wing and drove a low cross to the middle of the box for Eddie Johnson. He struck the ball first-time towards goal from eight-yards out, but the Guatemala defense was there to block the shot.

Both teams were content to play long balls over the top, but neither side had any success. In the 18th minute the United States was able to piece together a nice build up through the midfield that produced their best chance of the opening half.

Clint Dempsey controlled the ball on the right flank and played it Landon Donovan, who quickly threaded the ball to Johnson at the top of the box. Johnson turned with the ball and fired a hard shot towards goal, but the ball was right at keeper Ricardo Trigueno, and he turned it aside.

A 35th-minute free-kick then gave the United States another chance to crack the scoreboard as Donovan chipped the ball towards Dempsey at the far post. He dove to meet the ball with his head and put it on goal, but Trigueno was in good position to make the save.

The visitors did not threaten the Americans net until the 43rd minute when they too created a good chance from a dead-ball situation. Carlos Figueroa lobbed the ball into the box from the right wing and Carlos Ruiz somehow created enough room for himself to hit a volley towards goal. The ball drifted over the cross bar but it served as a sign that the defense could not relax.

Ruiz found another opening for himself after the restart as he carried the ball towards the net and saw keeper Kasey Keller drift a little off his line. He tried to lob a shot over Keller’s head but did not have enough on the shot, allowing Keller to recover and make an easy save.

Another nice spot of play from the United States in the 62nd minute gave Mapp a good look at the net, but his shot went inches wide. Dempsey took possession of the ball with his back to the goal at the top of the penalty area. He then flicked it wide to Mapp, who ripped a low shot towards the far post from the left that narrowly missed.

The United States spent the majority of the last 15 minutes inside the Guatemala half, but were unable to crack the visitor’s back line. The Americans could not take advantage of a number of corner-kick opportunities, and their last shot on goal came in the 86th minute when Donovan hit a half- volley from just inside the box on net, but failed to get much pace behind it.

In the end it was a positive result for Guatemala, who never really looked interested in leaving the States with a win. For the Americans, it was a chance to see some of their younger players facing international competition. Young midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Michael Bradley got a taste of the rugged play they will face in the international ranks, while Mapp played a solid game on the outside.

The biggest disappointment continues to be the Americans lack of a creative playmaker up top. Johnson turned in another lackluster performance, and it remains to be seen who will step forward as the go-to guy up top. With a defense that has played well and a midfield that is starting to round into form, the United States may be a good striker away from becoming a factor on the international scene.


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  • kicks22

    This match highlights the problems of US Soccer right now. Lack of attacking creativity, lack of good crossing balls from the wings, lack of finishing. I know Guatemala basically stuffed the box with players all night, but there’s still no reason why the US shouldn’t have found a way to score…instead they didn’t get that close to scoring at all. Donovan was useless without space to run in. Dempsey and Eddie johnson did nothing. Overall a frustrating night.

    It was good to see DeMerit, Spector and Simek out there. They all looked solid in defense…did some decent overlapping on the attack, but nothing too inspiring. Mapp is fast…that’s about it. Bradley wins 50/50 balls well, has potential. It will be interesting to see if his dad remains the coach or not. He is definitely a fine coach, but is he the one to fire up this team? I don’t know.

  • Stanley

    America’s biggest problem with soccer is you have Americans’ playing it. Everybody & their Grandmother knows Americans’ can’t play soccer. This is a typical result for these Vegabonds!

  • RcFutbolFreak

    I agree kicks. If americans have no attacking creativity. That is something they really have to develope to be able to consistently play the game. If the ‘US national team is able to bring up some of the young strikers from the U-19 national team and let them be creative with the ball u could see a big change in american soccer.

  • wolfen

    I wish this game would prosper in this country,but it seems to be a joke,I hope the MLS brings in some talent to expose to the younger players and fill the stands,I can’t believe it’s the world’s game,and in the States it’s hardly mention, the poor show of the national team in the past cup obviously didn’t help.

  • Stanley

    That’s because in the states American football, baseball & basketball are the main sports for the adult crowd. Soccer will never be able to compete with those sports’, EVER! What the MLS is trying to do is what the old NASL tryed to do which is make a fast buck, but that’s America in a nutshell, …It’s all based around money & they are not sincere in making soccer a true national sport like the rest of the world. Plus as history shows the Americans’ have never really been good at soccer & Americans’ always have a strong dislike at things that are not number one at. Their egos’ can’t handle it.

  • Scotty

    As much as I hate to admit it your right. At the youth level soccer is strong in America but that’s it. I play in the PDL inCalifornia for the San Fernando Valley Earth Quakes & we are only a semi- pro outfit & we draw almost as many people to games as teams in the MLS do which is to say not good. I think if the professional teams had more known latin players’ for the East & West coast they would get much larger turnouts for games as lot’s of latin people that follow the game live on both coast. Just like have more known European players’ in the Midwest as lot’s of European people live there & again they would draw larger numbers to games.

  • Santiago

    It’s a nice thought Scotty but it will never happen. In America they look at their sporting clubs not so much as a sporting club but rather as a business related money making franchise & that is what the real problem is. They have no real long range plans to make the clubs grow. It’s all short term, high gain, huge profits & then get out of dodge mentality there where your at this is why soccer has failed in America. It’s not a national sport or way of life for you there. It’s just another marketing tool for corperate America to make money.

  • wolfen

    fellows I know that soccer in the states has to overcome the obsticles of football,basketball,baseball & hockey, but if they make soccer a betting sport, I think it will generate more interest,I see immigrants betting on football when they don’t even know the teams?????, for people of imigrant families soccer is a way of life,here a sport is money(and unfortunatelly is getting the same overboard as well).The americans don’t have the passion of fens as the europeans,south americans & africans.oansbeing agAM

  • Tesoro

    Team USA has impressed me thus far,there far from the slugs people think they are; but their not a top tier team either. A national team that does not feature Freddy Adu or Eddie Johnson will not reach that tier. Toooo dependent on Landon Donovan, he’s a set piece no doubt but an offense configured around him is a mistake.

  • Scotty

    Well we all know soccer is a great sport but the average adult in America knows very little about it. You can talk about it to somebody & they say soccer? Oh yeah, Pele plays that game right? That’s the problem. The media doesn’t even really want to promote it. You can find American football, baseball, basketball,even golf on all the regular tv channels but it’s hard to find good soccer games on regular tv unless you go to the Mexican channels. Its almost as if they want to keep the sport on the adult level underground. The only time people even perk up a bit about soccer is every 4 years when the world cup is being played. Then it dies down all over again.

  • RcFutbolFreak

    Exactly scotty. The media does not promote soccer at all. The only time they show a game on tv is the world cup. At thts every four years!