World Cup qualifying

POZNAN, POLAND - JUNE 10:  Croatian fans light up flares during the UEFA EURO 2012 group C between Ireland and Croatia at The Municipal Stadium on June 10, 2012 in Poznan, Poland.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Croatia gets 2-match World Cup stadium ban for fascist chant


ZURICH (AP) Croatia has been ordered to play two World Cup qualifying matches in empty stadiums for repeated cases of fans chanting fascist slogans.

FIFA fined the Croatian soccer federation 150,000 Swiss francs ($151,000), and ordered the stadium bans to take effect when Croatia hosts Turkey on Sept. 5 and Finland on Oct. 9.

Chile was also ordered to play one World Cup qualifier away from its national stadium over fans chanting anti-gay insults, FIFA said in disciplinary rulings announced Friday. FIFA also fined five Latin American soccer federations for “discriminatory and unsporting conduct by fans,” including anti-gay insults, at World Cup qualifiers.

[ MORE: USMNT-Bolivia preview | Castillo replaces Chandler ]

Croatia fans were guilty of discriminatory chants at friendlies against Israel and Hungary in March, FIFA said.

Croatia “had already been sanctioned for similar incidents by FIFA and UEFA” in previous seasons, the world soccer body said.

Before the 2014 World Cup, FIFA banned Croatia defender Josip Simunic for 10 matches for leading fans in a World War II-era chant used by the country’s then-puppet regime.

After incidents of anti-gay chants at the last World Cup in Brazil, FIFA has cracked down on insults aimed by Latin American fans at players on rival teams.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determine UCL final ]

Chile cannot use its national stadium when it hosts Bolivia on Sept. 6 and must pay a fine of 30,000 Swiss francs ($30,250). A second stadium-ban sanction was deferred for a two-year probationary period.

In other sanctions for soccer federations, FIFA fined Honduras 40,000 Swiss francs ($40,300), Mexico and El Salvador 35,000 Swiss francs ($35,275) each, Paraguay 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150), and Peru 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,115).

Three things we learned from the USMNT’s 4-0 thumping of Guatemala

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29:  Rafael Morales #14 of Guatemala slides in to kick the ball away from Gyasi Zardes #9 of the United States Men's National Team in the first half during the FIFA 2018  World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

So the United States has taken three points from this international break from the club calendar after a 4-0 thumping of Guatemala on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.

[ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings ]

While it doesn’t completely take the bad taste of our mouths from a horrific Friday in Guatemala City, we learned some positive things in the United States on Tuesday.

Mostly, though, we learned that Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t completely bonkers and will put his players in good spots when his back is against the wall (but why not sooner?!?)


Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey struggled in Friday’s loss to Guatemala, while Geoff Cameron started the game at right back. Dempsey’s been mercurial for the USMNT of late, but Bradley’s performance was surprising.

What wasn’t surprising was how strong Bradley rebounded after Friday’s embarrassment. Key tackles weren’t a problem, passing was on point, and the hustle and vigor were apparent and abundant.

USMNT defender Cameron against Guatemala. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Dempsey’s touch looked off again in the early stages, but he did what he failed to do on Friday when he finished a clear-cut goal scoring opportunity from the middle of the box.

As for Cameron, what can’t this guy do? The big man started at center back next to Steve Birnbaum, and marshaled the line. His resolute defense would’ve been enough, but the Stoke City veteran played the long ball that led to Dempsey’s opener and then nodded home Bradley’s free kick to make it 2-0.


While Cameron’s move to the middle was a huge and smart — if obvious — move by Klinsmann, Tuesday night was a big night for fans of Major League Soccer.

Klinsmann removed Michael Orozco, Alejandro Bedoya (injured), Mix Diskerud, Tim Howard, and Omar Gonzalez from the Starting XI, replacing them with Steve Birnbaum, Kyle Beckerman, Graham Zusi, Brad Guzan and Gyasi Zardes.

Beckerman and Zusi were particularly effective and composed, aside from an early hiccup each. Zusi more than made up for his mistake with a goal and a fiery first half before making way for Christian Pulisic late in the game.

Birnbaum and Geoff Cameron may not be a long-term pairing given Cameron’s preference to play holding mid, the Yanks’ thin right back ranks and some interesting depth and/or prospects at center back (John Anthony Brooks, Tim Parker, Matt Miazga), but Tuesday should’ve earned Birnbaum “consistent call-up” status.


COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29: Gyasi Zardes #9 of the United States Men's National Team gets control of the ball around Rafael Morales #14 of Guatemala and Moises Hernandez #5 of Guatemala in the first half to assist on Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States Men's National Team's goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

We won’t say Jurgen Klinsmann made up for Friday’s errors, because that’s just not possible. It was an utter failure and glaring embarrassment for U.S. Soccer.

But whoever talked Klinsmann into pressuring Guatemala’s lesser talent when they had the ball deserves a dinner on all of us. Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi and Gyasi Zardes were among the U.S. players chasing the ball with rampant attitude, and the States were well-placed to advance the ball once possession was won.

USMNT player ratings from a smooth, controlling win over Guatemala

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29:  Geoff Cameron #20 of the United States MenÕs National Team heads the ball off a free kick for a goal in front of Carlos Castrillo #13 of Guatemala in the first half during the FIFA 2018  World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
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The United States men’s national team rebounded from Friday night’s embarrassing loss in Guatemala City to retake control of its World Cup qualifying destiny with a 4-0 win in Columbus, Ohio.

[ MORE: Match recap | Three things we learned ]

These player ratings will be a whole lot better than Friday night’s edition, as the Yanks controlled the game the way they should against an opponent like Guatemala.

Here goes something:

Starting XI

Brad Guzan — 6 — His first save was easy, and came in the 34th minute. Barely troubled, and that’s the way it should be against Guatemala.

Edgar Castillo — 6 — A fine tackle early, but not much else to do. Stayed tight on his marks and the ball. Wasn’t exactly marauding down the left.

Geoff Cameron — 9 — Funny how playing one of your best players at one of his best positions helps. Played the long ball that Zardes knocked down for Dempsey’s opening goal.

Steve Birnbaum — 6 — Again, didn’t face a load of work but was tidy in his business.

DeAndre Yedlin — 7 — One of his finer performances as a national teamer came, no surprise here, when he was set at right back. Lively and active, if a bit too theatrical.

Kyle Beckerman — 6 — Totally fine, and allowed his back four and the five in front of him to do work. That’s usually what he does, you know?

Michael Bradley — 8 — Not a huge surprise to see the captain rebound from a rough Friday in Guatemala City. Played a picture-perfect free kick on Cameron’s goal, and should’ve had an assist on Wood’s missed sitter.

Graham Zusi (Off 81′) — 7 — Had a rough free kick from the right in the first half, but played with fire (without playing with fire) in keeping the Yanks’ heads on straight.

Gyasi Zardes (Off 71′) — 5 — Was a part of two goals. The first was a terrific run up the gut of the Guatemala defense, the second was more of what his night resembled, fighting his touch despite good smarts and athleticism.

Clint Dempsey — 7 — Took his chances, and took them well.

Bobby Wood (Off 66′) — 5 — Missed an all-time sitter, but was otherwise lively in the attacking trio up top.


Jozy Altidore (On 66′) — 7 — You’d like him starting — he’s injured — but what an impact sub this guy is after a defense deals with smaller, shiftier guys all night.

Ethan Finlay (On 71′) — 7 — We’ll give him the 7 as if he scored the goal that should’ve stood. He was onside. The refs did not have a good night.

Christian Pulisic (On 81′) — 6 — Lively enough, played well positionally, and is now cap-tied to these United States.

USMNT 4-0 Guatemala: Dempsey, Cameron key dominant bit of revenge

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29:  Geoff Cameron #20 of the United States Men's National Team celebrates his first half goal against Guatemala with Graham Zusi #19 of the United States Men's National Team and Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States Men's National Team during the FIFA 2018  World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Clint Dempsey and Geoff Cameron each had a goal and an assist, while Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore added second half insurance tallies as the USMNT picked up a 4-0 win in a must-have CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match against Guatemala.

The win boosts the Yanks back over Guatemala in Group A of World Cup qualifying, three points behind Trinidad and Tobago with two matches to play in the fourth round.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

Jurgen Klinsmann’s record in home World Cup qualifiers improved to 10-0 with the decisive victory.

The U.S. heads to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2 before finishing with Trinidad and Tobago at home on Sept. 6.

[ MORE: USMNT announces two friendlies, location for WC qualifier ]

The Yanks needed an early goal to feel good, and the former captain took care of that after 11 minutes.

Geoff Cameron played a long ball into the 18 and two Guatemalan defenders were sucked into covering a streaking Gyasi Zardes. The ball hit Zardes’ shoulder and dropped into the path of Dempsey, who buried his shot past Paulo Motta. 1-0.

It was Dempsey’s 14th goal of World Cup qualifying, moving him past Landon Donovan for the most in USMNT history.

Guatemala got its first shot on goal, not a troubling one, in the 34th minute. It wasn’t a sign of things to come, as Bradley sent a gorgeous free kick into the 18 where Cameron nodded the ball past Motta.

It’s a good thing the score was 2-0 when Bobby Wood missed an absolute sitter just before halftime. The Hawaii-born striker burst past the Guatemala line to bring a chance down, beat the keeper but missed his shot in comical fashion (Not comical for Wood, mind you).

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29: Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States Men's National Team celebrates his first half goal against Guatemala with Steve Birnbaum #21 of the United States Men's National Team during the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

After halftime, Zusi reaped the rewards of a bad touch from Zardes, beating Dempsey to a loose ball in the six and belting it past Motta. 3-0. Game over.

Guatemala had some moments moving forward but no real trouble for Guzan, while the Yanks were just a few deft touches away from making it a real blowout. Jozy Altidore and Ethan Finlay were the first two U.S. subs, and added to the threat.

Guzan was finally tested by a low Marquez offering in the 79th minute, but was relatively comfortable in scooping it up.

Christian Pulisic subbed on for Zusi in the 81st minute, becoming the youngest USMNT player to appear in a World Cup qualifying at the ripe old age of 17.

Finlay was wrongly adjudged to be offside when he thought he had made it 4-0, but Altidore wasn’t denied on his goal.

The Toronto FC striker made it 4-0 when Dempsey found himself with loads of time in the 18 and both Pulisic and the goal scorer open. Altidore left no doubt.

USMNT, Guatemala roll out lineups for critical World Cup qualifier in Columbus

United States' Clint Dempsey, left,  and Guatemala's Jean Marquez fight for the ball during a 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying soccer match at Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City, Friday, March 25, 2016. (AP Photo/ Moises Castillo)
AP Photo/ Moises Castillo
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The United States men’s national team hopes having its home fans behind them will help them in a match that sees the CONCACAF power with its back against the wall.

Guatemala’s shocking 2-0 home win over the Yanks on Friday means a loss at MAPFRE Stadium tonight would all but end the USMNT’s plans for a eight-straight World Cup berth.

[ MORE: USMNT announces two friendlies, location for WC qualifier ]

The Yanks are making big changes, moving in Brad Guzan in goal and sliding Geoff Cameron central with Steve Birnbaum of DC United.

Kyle Beckerman will sit atop the backs in a three-man midfield with Graham Zusi and Michael Bradley, while Gyasi Zardes and Bobby Wood flank Clint Dempsey up top.

The visitors are making some changes, moving out Hamilton Lopez and Carlos Ruiz for Mafre Icute and Carlos Castrillo.


Guatemala: Motta, Jimenez, Hernandez, Castrillo, Cincotta, Marquez, Contreras, Saravia, Morales, Icute, Tinoco.