GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala -- Nearly three decades passed between Guatemala defeating the US national team. The rare occasion on Friday, a 2-0 win for Los Chapines in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, happened because of several factors.
Two quick goals scored in the first quarter-hour set the hosts on a path to their first victory against the USMNT since 1988, and Guatemalan goalkeeper Paulo Motta received plaudits for his performance in preserving the result from the back.
But US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann also attributed the shock result at the Estadio Mateo Flores to the failings of his players.
"Too many mistakes, especially in the first half hour," Klinsmann said in the postgame press conference. "On international level you cannot make the mistakes that led to the two goals. You simply cannot allow that."
Despite dominating possession on the road in a notoriously tricky Central American location, Guatemala pressed the Americans early and often and succeeded. A misplayed backpass by US goalkeeper Tim Howard led to a series of corner kicks, which culminated in the seventh minute opener by Rafael Morales, beating midfielder Mix Diskerud to a header in the box.
That was followed up by one of the more direct goals to be found, as Motta's goal kick appeared to bounce cleanly through midfield before Guatemalan all-time leading scorer and former MLS striker Carlos Ruiz ran onto it and coolly slotted his shot past Howard.
From there, the home team was in the driver's seat and never relinquished their position, even eliciting "Olé" chants from the crowd as they passed the ball around at several points in the match.
Klinsmann attempted to shake up his lineup in the second half, eventually adding forwards Gyasi Zardes and Jozy Altidore in exchange for starting central defenders Omar Gonzalez and Michael Orozco. It was a high-risk move, and another substitute, Darlington Nagbe, appeared to give the US some traction in the attack. But while the Americans did not give up any more goals, they also failed to beat Motta and really get back into the game.
Following the game, Klinsmann congratulated the Guatemalan team and was critical of his players over "the lack of focus and concentration" in the game. "We are very disappointed" in the outcome, he said, but "we have to shake the loss off."
Neither team will have much time to ponder Friday's result, as they will have an immediate World Cup qualifying rematch on Tuesday at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus (7 pm ET, ESPN2/UniMás/UDN).