FIFA World Cup qualifiers: Clint Dempsey's 2 goals help US beat Guatemala, 3-1
Reed Hoffmann, Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Clint Dempsey scored twice as the United States rallied to beat Guatemala 3-1 Tuesday night and reach the last round of continental qualifying for the World Cup.
The Americans needed only a draw to advance to the six-team finals in North and Central America and the Caribbean qualifying. After Carlos Ruiz put Guatemala ahead in the fifth minute, Dempsey set up Carlos Bocanegra's goal in the 10th, then scored in the 18th and 36th minutes. Dempsey equaled Brian McBride for third-most international goals in U.S. history with his pair at Kansas City lifting him to 30.
The U.S., seeking its seventh straight World Cup appearance, topped its semifinal group with 13 points.
Guatemala, which has never appeared in a World Cup, was eliminated when Dane Richards scored two goals late in the second half in Jamaica's 4-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda. Guatemala and Jamaica had 10 points apiece, but the Jamaicans advanced with a superior goal difference.
The Americans were the more aggressive team that coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been trying to develop and less like the side that struggled over a muddy cricket pitch to a 2-1 victory over Antigua on Friday — an outcome that took most of the pressure off Tuesday night's game.
Still, Guatemala caused tension for the Americans when Ruiz rounded goalkeeper Tim Howard in the opening minutes and side-footed the ball into the goal.
But the equalizer came just five minutes later when Graham Zusi, playing in his home stadium, sent a corner kick arcing into the penalty area, where Dempsey redirected it to an unmarked Bocanegra at the far post.
Ruiz nearly scored again in the 18th minute when his header went over the crossbar, but the Americans quickly came back on the counter. The ball was pushed ahead to Eddie Johnson on the wing, and he found Dempsey cutting to the net ahead of defender Jonathan Lopez.
Dempsey deftly scored over the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez for a 2-1 lead. The U.S. pressure paid off again in the 36th minute, when Michael Bradley sent a pass over the sprawled-out Jerez and Dempsey tapped in to goal. Dempsey nearly had a hat-trick when he just missed with a header early in the second half, and then picked up a yellow card for diving in second-half stoppage time.
Jamaica needed to make up a three-goal differential on Guatemala in a victory to have a chance of advancing. Richards' goals in the 78th and 88th minutes in Kingston allowed them to advance.
Also advancing to the six-team finals are Mexico, Honduras and Panama, while Costa Rica and El Salvador played late games for the final spot in the hexagonal.
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