United States vs Guatemala | Saturday 04 July | Nashville, Tennessee | 00:30
The United States play host to Guatemala in the early hours of Saturday morning in a warm-up match in preparation of the 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup, which will be co-hosted by the USA and Canada. The Yanks are overwhelming favourites to win the match as they boast an excellent head-to-head record against Guatemala – unbeaten in eighteen meetings with twelve wins.
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To Win (90mins)
United States 1/5
The Stars and Stripes are aiming to win their sixth Gold Cup title and are favourites to qualify from their group which contains Panama, Haiti and Honduras. In their final preparation match for the tournament, USA will be hoping for a positive result against their fellow Gold Cup contenders. The last time they met Guatemala was back in 2013, when the US ran riot at the Qualcomm Stadium, scoring six times without reply. USA have played twelve friendlies since their World Cup campaign was ended by Belgium in the first knockout round, but they have only been able to record five victories with three draws and four defeats. In their first friendly match, USA beat Czech Republic 1-0 in Prague thanks to Alejandro Bedoya’s strike but failed to build on that win as they drew their next two matches against Ecuador and Honduras. Jurgen Klinsmann’s side then went on to suffer three consecutive losses against Colombia (1-2), Republic of Ireland (4-1) and Chile (3-2), but managed to oust Panama 2-0 in California with Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey getting on the scoresheet. In March, the Americans were on the receiving end of a Nicklas Bendtner hattrick as they lost 3-2 in Aarhus, but later managed to find their best form as they held Switzerland to a 1-1 draw in Zurich before winning three on the trot against Mexico (2-0), Netherlands (3-4) and World Cup winners Germany (1-2). The Stars and Stripes play an exciting, flexible style of football, adept at pressing high up on the pitch and also sit deep if need be and catch teams on the counter with ruthless efficiency. They work extremely hard and have a boundless energy which is capable of overwhelming opponents. Bradley and Jermaine Jones are the engines in the midfield, though both, and Bradley especially, have the ability and desire to get forward and score goals. In attack, Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are proven net-rattlers who will provide a constant threat to Guatemala’s flimsy defence.
Guatemala did extremely well to reach the final of the Copa Centroamericana (Central American Cup) ousting El Salvador, Belize and Honduras en route to the final which they lost 2-1 to Costa Rica. Since that defeat, Los Chapines have struggled to find their rhythm which saw them win five on the spin between August and September last year. Guatemala lost their first two matches by 1-0 margins against Peru and Canada and fired a blank against El Salvador in a dull 0-0 draw in California. In May, Guatemala’s bad patch continued as they slumped to a 3-0 drubbing by Mexico followed by a 5-1 thrashing from a rampant Uruguayan side. In their World Cup qualifiers against Bermuda last month, Los Chapines showed some signs of improvement as they beat the Gombey Warriors 1-0 at the Bermuda National Stadium after being held to a goalless draw at home in the first leg of the tie. Guatemala will be keen to give a good account of themselves in the Concacaf Gold Cup and beating USA for the first time will give them the confidence they’ve lacked since the Copa Centroamericana. In next week’s Gold Cup, the Central American runners-up will take on Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico and Cuba in Group C play.
VERDICT: USA By 3 Or More Goals 27/20
The USA are unbeaten in their last four matches where they’ve done exceptionally well having beaten the likes of Netherlands and Germany on foreign soil. Guatemala have lost four of their last seven games with two draws, winning just once. The Yanks have won five of their last six encounters against Los Chapines including two on the spin, winning 6-0 and 3-1. Given those results and the fact that USA are priced too short for a straight win, put your money on USA to win by three or more.