For U.S. fans, they are the sad, sad highlights. For Guatemala, they’re a historic landmark—the victory marked the first time that nation has qualified for a World Cup at any level, in 92 years of playing the sport:
From the opening whistle, this one had the atmosphere of an upset-in-the-making. The crowd of 30,000-plus was rocking, the Guatemalan team was playing loose and feeling no pressure, while the U.S. was the opposite—increasingly so as the game went on and they failed to establish any kind of rhythm or control.
We thought that would change when Conor Doyle scored the equalizer with that well-taken chip, but no: The hosts came right back with the eventual game-winner just three minutes later.
Sure, the U.S. was missing striker Bobby Wood due to injury, and the dangerous Joe Gyau (remember that name) was not at 100% capacity, but still, this was a game the young Yanks should have won.
Most of the American players have bright professional careers ahead—careers which they can now resume earlier than expected—and this was arguably the most talented U.S. U-20 group ever assembled. But they will go down as the first American side in eight U-20 qualifying cycles (dating back to 1995) to fail to reach the World Cup.