U.S. edges Guatemala to top Group 1

8:37 PM, Oct 16, 2012   |    comments
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Kansas City, KS (Sports Network) - The United States punched its ticket to the next qualifying round for the 2014 World Cup, defeating Guatemala 3-1 at Livestrong Sporting Park on Tuesday.

It was a rough start for the Americans as Guatemala took a shocking lead in the fifth minute when Carlos Ruiz latched on to a long ball over the top, rounded Tim Howard and slipped the opener into the back of the net.

Carlos Bocanegra exonerated the United States five minutes later by leveling the score. Clint Dempsey flicked on a corner kick delivery at the near post and the veteran defender was arriving at the top of the six-yard box to redirect it past Ricardo Jerez.

Dempsey took control of the remainder of the first half, scoring in the 18th and 36th minutes to give the U.S. a comfortable lead.

The go-ahead goal came off of a low cross from Eddie Johnson. The Seattle Sounders striker built upon his two-goal performance against Antigua and Barbuda on Friday by setting Dempsey up for an easy finish from close range.

Dempsey extended the lead nine minutes before the break by capping some fine build-up play around the box. Michael Bradley worked a quick one-two with Herculez Gomez, and the Roma midfielder chipped Jerez after the Guatemalan 'keeper came rushing off his line. The ball may have crossed the line on its own, but Dempsey made sure by continuing his run and slotting home Bradley's attempt.

The United States continued to dictate play in the second half, staving off any potential comeback from the Guatemalans to cruise to the top of the Group 1 table with 13 points through six games.

Jamaica also advanced to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying with a 4-1 defeat of Antigua and Barbuda. The Reggae Boys finish group play tied with Guatemala on 10 points apiece, but Dane Richards' brace inside the final 13 minutes of Tuesday's match sees them through with a superior goal differential.

In Group 3 action, Jerry Bengston and Carlo Costly scored hat tricks on Tuesday to lift Honduras to a resounding 8-1 victory over Canada. Honduras advances to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying where it will be joined by Panama, which played to a 1-1 draw with Cuba.

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