The Columbus fortress stands tall.
MAPFRE Stadium was again the cure for what ailed the US national team on Tuesday night, as the Yanks handled a must-win situation with aplomb, sweeping aside Guatemala 4-0 to put their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track and push Friday's humiliating road loss into the background.
Clint Dempsey struck early to ease the home side's nerves after Gyasi Zardes and Geoff Cameron combined to give him an open look inside the penalty box, and Cameron doubled the lead with a set-piece header after half an hour.
Graham Zusi netted an opportunistic finish just seconds into the second half, and Jozy Altidore came off the bench to add a late exclamation point. To cap off a night of relief, teenage phenom Christian Pulisic was the USA's final substitute, marking his senior-team debut and cap-tying the dual-eligible Borussia Dortmund midfielder.
- 12' – USA–Clint Dempsey (Gyasi Zardes, Geoff Cameron)
- 35' – USA – Geoff Cameron (Michael Bradley)
- 46' – USA –Graham Zusi (Gyasi Zardes, DeAndre Yedlin)
- 89' – USA – Jozy Altidore (Clint Dempsey)
- Full box score
1. Veterans step up: They may be two of the older players on the team, but Clint Dempsey and Kyle Beckerman are still getting it done when it counts most. The two MLS vets provided a crucial presence in the US lineup, as did other experienced faces like Bradley, Cameron and Zusi, as the home team seized early control of this game's rhythm and did not let up.
2. Tempo, tempo, tempo: In stark contrast to Friday's 2-0 setback in Guatemala City, the USMNT were assertive and energetic from the opening whistle in Columbus, applying pressure throughout the midfield and preventing Los Chapines from getting settled. Aside from a few half-chances in the opening stages, the visitors had no answer for the elevated speed of play.
3. Pulisic in the bank as a Yank: While the famous American tendency to overhype remains a real risk with the Borussia Dortmund prospect (just like with nearly every other talented US teen), fans will have peace of mind now that he's committed to the USMNT. Croatia's repeated attempts to lure him to their side are now a footnote in history.
They Said It
- USA (WCQs): Friday, 9/2 at St. Vincent & the Grenadines (Arnos Vale Stadium, Kingstown)
- GUA (WCQs): Friday, 9/2 at Trinidad & Tobago (Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain)