In a game that they could not afford to lose, the U.S.’s World Cup dreams were hanging by a thread less than five minutes into the game against Guatemala when Carlos Ruiz outpaced Carlos Bocanegra to make it 1-0 Guatemala and stun the sold-out crowd of 16,947 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
The U.S. needed a leader at that moment, and Clint Dempsey stepped up an showed why he is the best American footballer alive today. He scored two first half-goals and assisted on the other as the U.S. ending up winning comfortably 3-1 tonight.
Dempsey’s goals, in the 18th and 36th minute give him 30 international goals, tied him with Brian McBride for third-most in American history.
With Landon Donovan injured again, it is safe to say that the face of American socceris now Clint Dempsey. He was the leader on the pitch tonight, making the runs, looking for the ball and encouraging his teammates.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has four months to get ready for the final round of qualifying and during that time he needs to figure out his defensive partnership. Tonight Ruiz was too much for Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo really struggled also. Against the better teams that the U.S. will face now, that defensive pairing will not work.
But after all the hand-wringing and worrying the Americans are through to the next round with the same number of points as four years ago.