United States Battles with Guatemala

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The pick heard around Central America. Brian Ching, who had a consistently strong game, holding the ball upfront when the United States needed to, backed into a defender on a corner kick and blocked the player who was marking Carlos Bocanegra, allowing him to open up into the penalty spot free and clear to knock home the winning goal.

I’m pretty sure this was a set play by the U.S., Bradley coached at Princeton remember, they do smart things there. But really, what a simple and clever piece of work by Brian Ching and the United States, it was a game winning move that fit so well in the Guatemalan style – win at all costs.

Guatemala has some very quick and talented players, however, they ruin all that talent with cheap shots, diving, screaming, and elbowing.

Eddie Lewis suffered a Schumacher like elbow to the head and went down gruesomely, blood running across his face. The player clearly was late to the play and went in with his elbow leading rather than his head. Eddie was running to head the ball but was blindsided. He was able to get to his feet and walk back to the dressing room, escorted out by security guards with protective shields. The Guatemalan player didn’t have any blood on his head or face as he went off the pitch, proof I think that he led more with his elbow rather than trying to head the ball. If his head had collided with Lewis’ head then there’d be some blood.

Fortunately, the player was shown the red and the teams were even at ten again after Steve Cherundolo had previously lost his own head. Cherundolo should be a wise veteran by now, but he grabbed the legs of a player after he was beaten and fell to the ground, receiving his second yellow and was gone. He received the first yellow after throwing the ball to the ground in frustration when he didn’t get a call.

The difference for me was when Maucrice Edu and DaMarcus Beasley came on. Both players added some level headedness to the game. They kept the ball with simple passes and short runs, perhaps that was the directive that Bradley gave them before they came on – play simple and keep the ball.

You can watch some of the highlights at ESPN SoccerNet.

This was the first win by the United States against Guatemala in Guatemala. This was a gutsy win by the U.S. and a great way to start their road to South Africa and World Cup 2010.

Late in the game Carlos Ruiz was rushing to follow up a shot and dragged his foot through Tim Howard after he’d collected the shot. Tim Howard erupted in anger after the play and got in the face of Ruiz, who’s known now more as a dirty player than a goal scorer. There was no need for it. And even though it didn’t look like a direct kick to the face, it was just poor form by Ruiz, especially when a keeper is in such a vulnerable position. Ricardo Clark paid for his reaction to Ruiz’s antics, Howard was able to control himself and Bocanegra stood between the two players. Howard just received a yellow card. Wonder what the reaction to Ruiz will be like when he heads back to the U.S. and beings MLS play with Toronto.

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