We spent last night at Legends on 33rd Street — essentially in the middle of Soccer Row in NYC — watching the U.S. men’s soccer team tie Guatemala 1-1 in World Cup qualifying. It wasn’t a night U.S. Soccer is going to bronze, and not just because you can’t bronze a night. The U.S. led for most of the night but didn’t take advantage of several opportunities, essentially begging Guatemala to tie it up with one perfect strike. They got one with Marco Pappa’s free kick that goalkeeper Tim Howard had no chance to stop, and next thing you knew, what was supposed to be a breezy qualifying win was a draw. (There are arguments that a bad call late cost Jozy Altidore a goal, but it shouldn’t have come to that.) Plus, the shady pay-per-view feed from Guatemala kept cutting in and out, and the whole evening had a low-rent feel; it’s the sort of thing that other country’s fans make fun of. The U.S. isn’t in any trouble for qualifying necessarily; they’re still in first place in their group with four points and a one-goal differential advantage over Jamaica. But this isn’t how this was supposed to start. The next match won’t be until September, when they have a home-and-home with Jamaica on September 7 and September 11. They’ll have to dramatically improve by then. At least those matches won’t be on pay-per-view.
Clint Dempsey scored the one U.S. goal and had the one happy moment.