CARSON, Calif. — Despite dropping down to nine players, Guatemala clamped down on Honduras as the two Central American nations tied 0-0 in a Group B match at the Home Depot Center on Monday night.
Jamaica finished the evening atop the group after a 4-0 rout of Grenada in the opener.
Guatemala saw two men sent off in a brutal, bad-tempered second half. First, defender Gustavo Cabrera cleared a ball on the right flank, but on the follow through kicked Emil Martínez on the shin. Cabrera, who had picked up an earlier yellow card for a foul on Carlo Costly, again saw yellow and earned an early trip to the locker room.
In the 79th minute, Henry Medina picked up his second yellow card after a rough challenge on Honduras’ Walter Martínez. Medina joined Cabrera in the locker room and Guatemala were left to fend off Honduras with just nine players.
It mattered little, as Honduras were unable to generate space or chances over the last 10-plus minutes of the game.
It didn’t start that way as the Catrachos nearly put an early stamp on the match. In the first minute, Costly beat Guatemala’s defense and ran into the penalty area alone on the right flank but pushed a shot just wide of the left post.
Rattled by the late injuries of Maynor Figueroa, Emilio Izaguirre and Wilson Palacios, Honduras struggled to maintain their composure as the Guatemalans began to control the pace of the match. Guatemala failed to threaten ‘keeper Noel Valladares, but kept Honduras from holding the ball much.
Still, Honduras came close to scoring once more. In the 33rd minute, Óscar García lined up a shot from 20 yards out that beat Guatemala’s Ricardo Jérez. The ball, though, hit the crossbar. However, it bounced down and hit Jérez, who had dived for the ball and lay sprawled out on the grass.
It did not have enough momentum, though, to bounce back over the goal line.
Costly nearly gave Honduras the lead in the 60th minute when he broke through Guatemala’s defense and tested Jerez from close range, but Jérez jumped in Costly’s path and stopped the striker’s attempt.
Fortune turned against Guatemala one minute past the hour mark with Cabrera’s red card.
Honduras tried to capitalize with the insertion of former FC Dallas player Ramón Núñez, who replaced Jerry Bengston. But Núñez’s biggest contribution was a 75th-minute free kick that sailed high over the bar.
The two teams return to action on Friday at FIU Stadium in Miami. Guatemala face group leaders Jamaica at 7 pm ET, followed by Honduras squaring off with Grenada at 9 pm ET.