GUATEMALA CITY -- Jurgen Klinsmann was smiling as he sat at the podium for his post-match press conference. In his opening remarks, the U.S. coach praised Guatemala for its hospitality during the team’s three-day trip to Central America.
One would think Klinsmann’s U.S. squad had just rolled to a five-goal win.
Instead the U.S. played to a disappointing 1-1 draw against a lesser opponent, one of which hadn’t beaten the Americans in over 24 years. It would have been one thing had the U.S. tied a friendly, but it’s another that it only picked up one point in a meaningful game it should have won.
"We came for the three points, but I think at the end of the day that a tie - based on all the chances on both sides - is OK," Klinsmann said.
The U.S. had taken the lead in the 39th minute thanks to a goal from Clint Dempsey, removing the energy out of the hostile Estadio Mateo Flores in the process. But Guatemala had a second-half boost after making three substitutions - including the Chicago Fire’s Marco Pappa, who had the equalizer on a beautiful free kick in the 83rd.
The Americans now only lead on goal differential over Jamaica (1-0-1) in Group A. The Caribbean nation will be the United States’ next World Cup qualifying opponent in September.
"I think it's an open group and it will be a competition until the very last game, and that's what you have to expect in a four-team group where two go through," Klinsmann said. "You have to go in and get a result in every single game. I think we got a result here [in Guatemala]."
The U.S. could probably tie the remaining games and still advance in the tournament, but fans should expect the best from one of the big fish in the small CONCACAF pond.