The U.S. has gotten the best of Guatemala for over two decades, but anything can happen when playing in Central America.GUATEMALA CITY - The U.S. national team arrived at the airport in Guatemala City late Sunday night, and the first thing noticed by the players was the amount of local security assigned to the squad.
“It opened my eyes,” said newcomer Terrence Boyd. “I didn’t know Guatemala could be so dangerous.”
The U.S. faces Guatemala tonight in the second World Cup qualifying match for both teams this month. The Americans are coming off a less-than-impressive 3-1 victory over Antigue & Barbuda, while the Guatemalans are looking to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat to Jamaica.
Although it is believed the stadium may not be sold out, forward Clint Dempsey expects "an awesome atmosphere" in the typically hostile Central American nation.
“You know the fans are going to be very passionate,” Dempsey said. “Their [Guatemala’s] backs are against the wall a little bit after losing their first game, but at the same time if we want to qualify for the next World Cup we’ll have to win some away games.”
The Americans had a training session Monday evening at Estadio Nacional Mateo Flores. The stadium was empty at the time but the barbwire fence surrounding the field was a clear sign that things could get rowdy after kickoff at 10 p.m. ET.
“This place is eerily silent at the moment, but it’s going to be rockin’,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said after practice.
“They’re going to dump everything at us and going to hit us. I think the most important key at the moment is standing up to that fight. They’re really going to take it to us.”
World Cup qualifiers have not been kind to Guatemala even when home-field advantage has been applicable against the Americans. The U.S. last visited the Central Americans in a meaningful game in August 2008, with a Carlos Bocanegra goal giving the USA a 1-0 victory in Guatemala City.
The U.S. is currently riding a 17-game unbeaten streak against Guatemala dating back to January 1988, but Dempsey says anything can happen while playing in an unusual atmosphere.
The U.S. team will head straight to the airport following the game – much to the delight of the German-born and-raised Boyd.
“I’ll just be happy to get out of here safe and that we get three points,” Boyd said. “I hope there are no consequences for us if we win here.”