The United States is in pole position to make the hexagonal from their World Cup qualifying third-round group, but they will still be disappointed to walk away from Guatemala with just a draw. The USMNT held a lead for the majority of the second half, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw thanks to a brilliant free kick equalizer from Marco Pappa.
Clint Dempsey scored the United States' goal in the 40th minute, putting the finishing touch on the team's only truly great attacking move in the first half. Fabian Johnson was the architect, providing the assist with a great run up the left flank, then a pass to the feet of Dempsey. He stepped past a defender and placed a low shot into the back of the net at the far post, giving the United States a lead at the end of a poorly played first half.
The United States didn't play much better in the second half, though they did have one good goal disallowed. In the 76th minute, Maurice Edu was hacked down on the edge of the penalty area, but the ball fell to substitute Jozy Altidore, who scored. Unfortunately for him and the USMNT, the goal was called back on a whistle. Inexplicably, the referee failed to play advantage and wiped out the goal.
That would prove to be a key decision seven minutes later, when Pappa netted the equalizer. His free kick came from 25 yards out and completely fooled Tim Howard, who was left standing still as the shot hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced into the goal.
Howard was tested much more than anyone could have expected, and even though the United States had a goal wiped out by a bad call, Guatemala should have scored two or three times before Altidore's disallowed goal. Howard made a number of excellent saves, with his biggest moment coming in the 72nd minute. He made a great save on a set piece, and Carlos Ruiz sent a rebound attempt miles over the crossbar when it would have been easier to hit the target.
Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT won't be very pleased with their play, and there will be plenty for the team to work on when they get back together at the end of the summer, but a draw in Guatemala isn't an awful result, and they're still heavy favorites to win the group and comfortably advance to the hexagonal round of qualifying.