31 March 2005

USA 2 - 0 Guatemala

It was good to see the Nats put the disappointment of Mexico City behind them and dominate Guatemala in Birmingham, AL. Their domination didn't translate into goals however as the finishing of the US front line left much to be desired. Brian Ching in particular was guilty of squandering a trio of quality chances. I wonder if McBride would have been a better strike partner for Edddie Johnson on this night. On the whole the defense looked much more solid, though Guatemala's arial threat doesn't compare to Mexico's.

Top Performers:
Pablo Maestroeni: did a fantastic job slowing down and disrupting Guatemala's attacking moves. His tireless and largely thankless work allowed the other midfielders, especially Donovan, the freedom to focus on attack.
Eddie Lewis: was very involved in this game. I've not always been a fan of Eddie Lewis (too predictable), but, on this night, he did an impressive amount of running and provided many quality balls from the left flank.
Cory Gibbs: was a much-needed steadying influence for the US back line. His recovery speed was impressive and he made several timely tackles. He and Onyewu managed to frustrate Guatemala's front two all night.

Worst Performer:
Ramesh Ramdhan: The referee from Trinidad and Tobago was inconsistent and awful. He allowed several illegal challenges to go unpunished, which set a dangerous tone to the match. He missed an obvious penalty when a Guatemalan defender handled the ball inside the area. He whistled several fouls that should have been allowed, one of which provided a scoring chance for Guatemala, another of which disallowed a Landon Donovan goal. Not until the Steve Ralston secured a second goal for the US did I feel confident of the result with Ramdhan in charge. The Guatemalan forwards, especially Ruiz, spent most of the night diving theatrically to try to win fouls from the Mr. Ramdhan, with only limited success thankfully.

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