No WCup for US U-20s, who fall to Guatemala in quarters
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — It took 92 years, but on Wednesday night at Estadio Mateo Flores, 30,000 fans stopped chanting "Sí se puede" and started singing "Sí se pudo.”
Guatemala, who have never sent a team to the World Cup on any level, shocked the United States U-20 squad in the quarterfinal of the CONCACAF Championship with a 2-1 victory to qualify for the main event this summer in Colombia.
Henry López's 69th-minute tally proved to be the game-winner after Conor Doyle knotted the match three minutes earlier. Gerson Lima's third tally in as many games just after the half-hour mark opened the scoring.
With Bobby Wood unable to play due to knee injury, Thomas Rongen made a couple changes to his starting 11. FC Dallas' Moises Hernandez got the nod at left back and Greg Garza was pushed up to midfield. Joe Gyau, who missed the match against Panama, returned to the flank despite not being 100 percent.
The US avoided what would have been a disastrous blow in the fifth minute. Gale Agbossoumonde got tangled up with a Guatemalan attacker as they raced for a ball on the sideline. The center back grabbed his right knee as he fell to the ground and lay writhing in pain for half a minute. Agbossoumonde returned to the action after getting attention from the US staff, but favored his injured appendage throughout the rest of the half.
The Americans dominated the early chances and should have scored in the eighth minute. The ball bounced to Kelyn Rowe just over midfield and the UCLA forward took a touch around goalkeeper Diego Armando Chacón, who had raced to intercept but arrived late.
Rowe (pictured at right), faced with a tight angle on an empty net, indecisively half-shot and half-passed to a streaking Doyle. However, a Guatemalan defender came rushing in and knocked the ball out for a corner before it could find its target.
After the early flurry of US pressure, the home side started to believe in themselves and gained long stretches of possession. The goal came in the 33rd minute off a Kendel Herrarte corner, when goalkeeper Zac MacMath and his back line failed to communicate. The opportunistic Lima used his head to put the ball into the net.
The US demonstrated a renewed intensity after the break, making attack after attack. The Philadelphia Union's Amobi Okugo forced an impressive save from Chacón in the 57th minute, but nothing came of the ensuing corner kick.
Doyle finally rewarded the US effort, tying the match in the 66th minute. Okugo, standing near midfield, spotted the streaking Derby County striker, who took one touch at the 18-yard box before chipping the Guatemalan netminder.
Estadio Mateo Flores exploded three minutes later, however, as Hernandez and Agbossoumonde couldn't handle an over-the-top ball. López found the ball between his feet and beat a sprawling MacMath to the right for the winner.
The Americans pushed forward and had the run of play, but failed to earn the equalizer.
GUA – Gerson Lima (Kendel Herrarte) 33rd minute
USA – Conor Doyle (Amobi Okugo) 66
GUA – Henry López 69
USA – Greg Garza 74th minute
USA – Zarek Valentin 90+2
United States -- 1-Zac MacMath; 4-Moises Hernandez, 5-Perry Kitchen (capt.), 2-Gale Agbossoumonde (16-Moises Orozco, 82), 3-Zarek Valentin; 8-Sebastian Lletget, 14-Amobi Okugo, 10-Kelyn Rowe; 13-Greg Garza (17-Omar Salgado, 77), 9-Conor Doyle, 7-Joe Gyau
Subs not used: 18-Cody Cropper, 6-Dillon Powers, 8-Sebastian Ibeagha, 12-Sacir Hot, 15-Korey Veeder,
Head Coach: Thomas Rongen
Guatemala -- 21-José Carlos Garcia; 3-Manuel Moreno, 4-William Ramírez, 5-Elias Enoc (capt.), 6-José del Águila, 7-Marvin Ceballos (10-Kevin Norales, 73), 8-José Castillo, 9-Henry López (18-Abner Bonilla, 79), 11-Kevin Herrarte, 14-Josó Lemus, 20-Gerson Lima (16-Cristian Lima, 46)
Subs not used: 1-Diego Chacón, 2-José Andrade, 15-Sixto Betancourt, 17-Marco Tulio Rivas
Head Coach: Hugo Ever Almeida
Referee: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
Assistant Referees: Víctor Calderón (MEX), Juan Rodas (HON)
Fourth Official: José Molina (HON)
Noah Davis covers the United States national team for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @noahedavis.