GUATEMALA CITY – A draw resulting from a late equalizer in Guatemala on Tuesday proved a somewhat frustrating result for an American side that looked to be on the verge of taking a hard-earned three points from Estadio Mateo Flores.
Instead, the hosts rallied for a deflating tie by applying added pressure in the second half. After a similar mid-game lull against Antigua and Barbuda last Friday, some questions might be raised about what the Americans need to do to finish off matches against less talented opponents.
“Obviously when you control a game the way we did, and kind of pass the ball around the way we did, sooner or later you’ve got to score the second one, and close it in,” head coach Jurgen Klinsmann told reporters postgame. “You’d be disappointed when something like that didn’t happen.”
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With the lead, the Americans found a number of opportunities going forward, as the Guatemalans were forced to abandon their fortressing and try to attack. But much like the game last Friday night, the Americans were unable to convert possession into concrete chances to score. Instead, an eventual defensive lapse allowed the Guatemalans the chance they needed to get back into the match.
“In a game like that, 80th minute, we just have to be a little smarter and tighter defensively,” midfielder Maurice Edu said. “Today we had a little slip up and they were able to get themselves back in the game. It’s about playing a committed and full 90 minutes.”
But the failure to maintain the lead and take all three points was as much as result of the inability to put in a second goal as any defensive shortcomings. Unable to add to their lead, the US found themselves under pressure that they were eventually unable to bear.
“We need to just keep digging our heels in and keep going at them, and finish teams off,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “And we go up 1-0, and you can see they’re dejected, that’s the time to finish teams off. Going for that second one, and being bold and aggressive is [just as] important as the first one.”