The United States defeated Guatemala, 5-0, in Group A play of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. With the win, the U.S. sits atop the table with six points and is in position to secure a trip to the semifinals with a win or draw against Haiti on Monday in Washington, D.C.
The United States needed just six minutes to get the game’s first goal. Right back Ali Krieger served a ball in from the flank that took a deflection off Sydney Leroux and rolled to an unmarked Tobin Heath, who toe-poked it past Guatemalan goalkeeper Alicia Navas. For the rest of the first half, the U.S. kept the ball in the Guatemalan half as it tried to break the five-back system the Central American side deployed for the match. However, the U.S. failed to convert on several opportunities, similar to the wasteful night it had against Trinidad & Tobago in a narrow 1-0 win.
The game’s scariest moment came in the 37th minute when Alex Morgan rolled her left ankle after getting tangled up with a Guatemalan defender. The Portland Thorns striker was stretchered off the field but later told Fox Sports the injury didn’t feel that bad. Morgan injured the same ankle in October 2013 and was sidelined for seven months while recovering.
The U.S. jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead early in the second half when Carli Lloyd headed home a cross from Sydney Leroux in the 46th minute. Lloyd volleyed a Megan Rapinoe corner kick across the face of goal to Heath, who flicked the shot through her legs to the back post and in to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead. Less than two minutes later, it was 4-0 after Whitney Engen made a near-post run on a free kick from Megan Rapinoe and headed it past Navas.
Rapinoe would get her goal on the night in the 66th minute off a curling shot from outside the box. The U.S. looked more comfortable passing the ball around in the second half and set up several more good scoring opportunities but the scoreline would remain 5-0.
It took the U.S. about 55 minutes to hit its stride, but the team started to look like the side that defeated Mexico by a combined score of 12-0 in two friendlies in September. They knocked the ball around the field with pace, looked to create opportunities, and showed no hesitation in having a shot on target. In the Trinidad & Tobago match and through the first half of this game, the U.S. was disjointed and lacked the killer instinct it’s shown in previous matches.
Carli Lloyd was involved with four of the five U.S. goals and threw herself into every possible attacking situation, cutting in from the outside as much as possible. Megan Rapinoe put together a solid shift on the flank as the U.S. looked for more width than they did against Trinidad & Tobago.
Though the United States will be happier with this evening’s performance — a win or draw against Haiti on Monday will secure the top spot in Group A and a semifinal berth — the potential loss of Alex Morgan will be hard to overcome, physically and emotionally. Pending the outcome of scans on Morgan’s ankle, the U.S. will likely have to go with one less field player for the remainder of the tournament.
For Guatemala, they still have an opportunity to advance on Monday in Washington D.C., but will need to not only win against Trinidad & Tobago and have the United States defeat Haiti but also will need to make up a five- or six-goal difference. With a lot of tired legs heading into the final match, they’ll need to dig down into the reserve tank to find the energy to finish off the group stage strong.