What do we know about the Guatemalan national team?
That its likely better than your perception of it.
While the United States men’s national team should be considered heavy favorites to pick up the lion’s share of the six points available to it in this week’s World Cup qualifying matches against Guatemala, don’t sleep on Walter Claveri’s La Azul y Blanco.
After an ugly first two-thirds of 2015, the side is starting to put together some decent results as it attempts to beat out either Trinidad and Tobago or the U.S. to a berth in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying’s fifth round.
Guatemala has a win and a loss in qualifying so far, beating St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Kingstown but falling to T&T at home. Yes, they beat Honduras 3-1 in Guatemala City last month, but they’re also a side that was soundly beaten by the Yanks in a pre-Gold Cup friendly.
An own goal sent that game to halftime 1-0 to the U.S. before Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski and Timmy Chandler eased the States to a 4-0 win in Nashville.
While 36-year-old Carlos Ruiz remains the team’s captain, the striker is no longer an offensive force for Guatemala. The side has seen goals from all over the squad in its recent run, but 29-year-old Gerson Tinoco’s three goals since Sept. 8 are leading the way.
[ MORE: See the USMNT training camp roster ]
Guatemala is 3W-1L-2D during that run, though it hasn’t exactly been facing any world powers. When that has happened since the start of 2015, it hasn’t been pretty: Blowouts have come against the U.S., Uruguay and Mexico, though Guatemala also drew 0-0 with El Tri in a friendly.
Three MLS players are on the Guatemala roster, with Colorado’s Marco Pappa (above), the Crew’s Rodrigo Savaria and FC Dallas’ Moises Hernandez all in the mix to represent La Azul y Blanco.
The Yanks haven’t lost to Guatemala in 21-straight matches, and boast a 15W-4L-6D record all-time.