USA's Clint Dempsey (pictured) celebrates after scoring against visiting Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: John Todd/isiphotos.com)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The United States (2W-1D-1L, 7 points) jumped into second place in Group C with a 4-0 victory over Guatemala (2-0-2, 6) in a fourth-round CONCACAF qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at MAPFRE Stadium on Tuesday night.
Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore tallied for the Americans, who swapped places with the Central Americans. They both trail first-place Trinidad & Tobago (3-1-0, 10), which defeated St. Vincent & the Grenadines, 6-0.
In contrast to Guatemala's 2-0 home win Friday night, the U.S. looked more confident and lively, taking the game to the visitor from the opening kickoff.
It paid off as center-back Cameron played an important role in both first-half goals.
In the 12th minute, the Stoke City standout sent the ball into the box. Gyasi Zardes won a header against defenders Moises Hernandez and Rafael Morales. Hernandez fell to the ground and Morales momentarily lost track of the ball. An onrushing Dempsey then powered a low, 12-yard shot into the lower-right corner past goalkeeper Paulo Motta for his 14th all-time qualifying goal.
A minute after Cristian Jimenez fouled U.S. forward Bobby Wood on the left side, Michael Bradley lofted a free kick into the area. Cameron shook off his marker and headed home from close range to make 2-0 in the 35th minute.
Although stars Marco Pappa and Carlos Ruiz entered for Guatemala at the half, the host struck again within seconds of the whistle. Overlapping right-back DeAndre Yedlin found Zardes, who mistouched the ball to Zusi. The Sporting Kansas City midfielder slotted it home for a 3-0 lead.
Altidore, a second-half sub, completed the scoreline in the 89th minute.
Bradley was yellow carded for fouling Jose Contreras in the 72nd minute, his second caution of the round, meaning the U.S. captain will miss the next qualifier at St. Vincent & the Grenadines on September 2. Guatemala will play at Trinidad that same day.
Borussia Dortmnd’s Christian Pulisic, 17, made his U.S. debut, replacing Zusi in the 81st minute.