A brace by Clint Dempsey was the difference Tuesday, as the United States Men's National Team defeated Guatemala 3-1 in Kansas City. The beginning of the game did not start well for the hosts, but after scoring their first goal, they took complete control over the game and never relinquished it.
Former MLS forward Carlos Ruiz got the scoring started in the fifth minute, when he got a ball over the top of the lax American defense and slotted the ball around Tim Howard. It appeared the American defense would doom the team yet again, but the attack stepped up. They knotted the score in the 10th minute when Graham Zusi's corner kick was headed at the near post by Dempsey, and Carlos Bocanegra knocked it in from right in front of goal.
Dempsey got his first goal in the 18th minute, when he received a squared cross into the box from Eddie Johnson and beat the defender to hit in in. He got his second in the 36th minute when he tapped in Michael Bradley's shot (which looked to be off-target anyway). The goals in this match means Dempsey is now tied for third all-time in goals scored for the U.S., with only Eric Wynalda and Landon Donovan ahead of him.
Former Chivas USA midfielder Sacha Kljestan came off the bench and played the final 25 minutes of the match. He registered one shot that tested Guatemalan goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez, but it was saved.
The result means that the USMNT has advanced to the hexagonal round in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Joining the Americans in the final round will be Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama. The hex begins in February, and the six remaining teams will compete for three guaranteed places at Brazil 2014, in addition to a playoff entrant.
For now, the result is all that matters, but the performance has to give fans of the American team hope moving forward.
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