Guatemala (pictured) gathers for a team photo prior to facing the visiting USA in a World Cup qualifier on March 25, 2016, in Guatemala City. (Photo: Alex Meoño)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Buoyed by a 2-0 home victory, Guatemala enters its FIFA World Cup qualifier on Tuesday against the United States confident it can leave MAPFRE Stadium with at least one point, if not all three.
"We must go for the win with determination,” said head coach Walter Claveri, who replaced Ivan Sopegno at the Guatemalan helm in January.
The Chapines made history last week by defeating the visiting U.S. in the fourth-round encounter, their first-ever WCQ win over the Americans (1W-5D-7L) after 13 games.
One of key contributors in that performance was midfielder Rodrigo Saravia. The 23-year-old – in just his second appearance for Guatemala – played the 90 minutes, most likely earning another start at the stadium of his professional team, Columbus Crew SC.
"Obviously we want to have the three points," Saravia said. "Of course, we're not going to hold and stay in the back. We want to keep the ball, of course. I think if we keep the ball we're going to create chances. Hopefully, we can score one or two. We want to get the three points out of it…at least one."
Guatemala took command in the first meeting within the opening 15 minutes. Rafael Morales scored off a corner kick, before striker Carlos Ruiz netted from goalkeeper Paulo Motta's long goal kick. Motta was superb with his hands in the second half, denying several close-range shots.
The win boosted the Guatemalans (2-0-1, 6) into second place in Group C over the U.S. (1-1-1, 4). Unbeaten Trinidad & Tobago (2-1-0, 7) tops the table, while St. Vincent & the Grenadines (0-0-3, 0) has yet to acquire a point.
Claveri expressed the necessity for his side to play an intelligent game on the road against a team that is winless in its last two WCQs.
"First, we must try to control them," he remarked. "We cannot go out and play open on a field where the ball gets faster than ours. They have a very good selection. If we leave too much space, it is dangerous.”
The USA has never lost a qualifier at the MAPFRE (7-3-0). Savaria, however, felt that Guatemala needs to maintain consistency in order to emerge victorious again.
"It's a difficult field and we are the visitor," the former Florida Gulf Coast University standout finished. "We know what the United States is on this pitch, but we will try to do things as we have been doing to achieve a good result."