Guatemala

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Report: U.S. Open Cup champs FC Dallas could sign Guatemalan legend Ruiz

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Fresh off its second Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title, could FC Dallas be about to add an MLS MVP to its ranks for the stretch run?

Okay, okay, so it’s the¬†2002 MLS MVP.

Taylor Twellman reported late Tuesday that Guatemalan legend Carlos Ruiz could be returning to Major League Soccer.

[ WATCH: Pulisic nabs Champions League assist ]

The free agent’s last competitive game was for Guatemala against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where he scored five goals in a 9-3 win. He’s been with Municipal since 2014, where he scored 46 goals in 88 appearances during his second stint with the club.

Ruiz last appeared in MLS with DC United in 2013.

FC Dallas has a four-point lead on the Galaxy for the Supporters’ Shield.

What a way to go out: Guatemala’s Ruiz scores five in final match (video)

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It was easy to lose in the reverie following Christian Pulisic and the United States men’s national team’s win on Wednesday, but a CONCACAF legend went out in absolute style.

Playing in his final game, Guatemala’s Carlos Ruiz scored five goals against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines before leaving the rain-drenched pitch to massive cheers from the Guatemala City faithful.

[ USMNT: Match recap | Player ratings ]

Ruiz’s 68 international goals is a country record that will stand for a while, with a 33-goal lead on second place and no active Guatemalan player with more than Marco Pappa’s 11.

Ruiz, 36, is now also the all-time goal scorer in World Cup qualifying history with 39. The title of highest active goal scorer falls to Cristiano Ronaldo, who will soon re-pass Ruiz.

But still, let’s take a minute to acknowledge the way he went out on Tuesday. The two-time Clausura winner, 2002 MLS Cup champ, and 2002 MLS MVP sure had a career.

What the USMNT needs to advance in World Cup qualifying (and what’s next when they do)

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So the United States clobbered Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but has to wait until Tuesday to qualify for CONCACAF’s fifth round of World Cup qualifying.

That’s because Guatemala battled back to draw 2-2 with Trinidad and Tobago on Friday in the Port of Spain, which was enough for T&T to go through.

[ USMNT-SVG: Match recap | Three things ]

The odds of the U.S. advancing to “the Hex” are still incredibly high whether they win, lose or draw on Tuesday in Jacksonville.

Scenarios

— If the U.S. beats Trinidad and Tobago, the Americans go through to the Hex as the C1 team.

— If the U.S. draws with Trinidad and Tobago, it is¬†also through to the Hex as the C2 regardless of what happens between Guatemala and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

— If the U.S. loses to Trinidad and Tobago, they still advance if:

  • Guatemala fails to win against St. Vincent and the Grenadines

-or-

  • Guatemala beats SVG¬†but¬†their victory margin combined with the U.S. losing margin does not equal or surpass 12 goals.

If they advance as…

  • C1, the Yanks open the Hex with Mexico at home (probably Columbus, though we wouldn’t rule out Alaska) on Nov. 11.
  • C2, the Yanks open at home on the same day against the winners of Group B (likely Costa Rica or Panama).

Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago draw; USMNT waits to qualify for Hex

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Carlos Ruiz is not going to let Guatemala leave World Cup qualifying without a fight.

The world’s active leading international scorer reclaimed that title from Cristiano Ronaldo with a first half goal before scoring late to give Guatemala a 2-2 draw¬†at Trinidad and Tobago on Friday.

The draw qualifies T&T¬†into CONCACAF’s final round of World Cup qualifying. Now the USMNT¬†needs to win or draw against T&T in Jacksonville on Tuesday, or hope Guatemala fails to make up 12 goals in difference when it hosts Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Seattle Sounders man Joevin Jones scored both T&T goals, including a gorgeous goal to temporarily give the Soca Warriors a late lead.

[ USMNT-SVG: Match recap | Three things ]

Guatemala took a 36th minute lead when Ruiz passed — for the moment — Cristiano Ronaldo as the¬†active player with the most international goals.

But Jones scored before halftime to tie things up at the Port of Spain, before scoring this gorgeous goal to put the Soca Warriors ahead (only to see Ruiz equalize just before stoppage time).

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

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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?!?)

THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN (AND POSITION)

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.

MLS TO THE RESCUE

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.

TACTICS? YES PLEASE

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.