North America is in the throes of World Cup qualifying, with CONCACAF's fourth round of action about to hit the halfway point. Group C is in action on Friday, and with it the United States men's national team, who will be squaring off with Guatemala in Guatemala City with a chance to earn a commanding advantage in the qualifying chase.
That will be easier said than done, however -- Guatemala has done well in qualifying so far and are always tough to play in their home stadium. Their play style of compacting space and lashing out on the counter is a good foil to what the USMNT does on the pitch, and the U.S. can't come into this match taking anything for granted. It's going to be a tough match, and if the USMNT come away with the win, it will be three point well earned.
Key United States player -- Fabian Johnson
Whether Johnson plays in defense or as a winger, the USMNT needs him to step up in a big way in this match. Guatemala's quality out wide will require him to be at his defensive best, but Johnson has also shown significant ability in attack as well this season since moving to Borussia Mönchengladbach in Germany. If he can bring that skillset to the USMNT in this match, it will make them much more likely to find a way to win and get three vital points in qualifying.
Key Guatemala player -- Marco Pappa
One of Guatemala's best players and a key cog in their attack, Pappa's out to prove something of a point in the current MLS campaign. He's been excellent so far in the young season in the U.S., and if he continues that level of performance he definitely has what it takes to cause problems for the USMNT defense. Pappa's ability to drift around on the wings to create chances for his teammates is problematic for many teams -- not least of which would be the USMNT with their periodic issues at fullback -- and that could prove decisive in this match.
Match Date/Time: Fri., 10 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. local
Venue: Estadio Mateo Flores, Guatemala City, Guatemala
TV: beIN Sports (U.S. - English), NBC Universo (U.S. - Spanish), Televisiete Canal 7 (Guatemala)
Online: beIN Sports Connect, fuboTV, NBC Deportes En Vivo Extra (U.S.),