Guatemala’s Elias Vasquez (L) vies for the ball with Landon Donovan of the US during their World Cup North, Central America and Caribbean qualifying football match at the Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City Tuesday. — AFPTORONTO – Midfielder Marco Pappa equalized in the 82nd minute to lift hosts Guatemala to a 1-1 draw with the United States Tuesday in a 2014 Brazil World Cup North American regional qualifying match.
The Guatemalans had not scored against the US squad in their eight prior meetings but Pappa, who plays for Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire, found the net as the finish loomed to end a drought that began in 2000.
Fulham striker Clint Dempsey opened the scoring in the 40th minute for the Americans, who stretched their unbeaten streak against Guatemala to 18 matches since 1988, a run of 12 triumphs and six draws.
But by failing to claim full points, the US team was left level with Jamaica atop Group A after two of six matches, each with a win and a draw after the “Reggae Boyz” played to a goal-less draw Tuesday at Antigua and Barbuda.
Other results saw Mexico edge hosts El Salvador 2-1 and Costa Rica blank hosts Guyana 4-0 in Group B while Panama edged visiting Cuba 1-0 and Canada played Honduras to a 0-0 deadlock at Toronto in Group C matches.
The top two teams from each of the three groups in the semifinal stage of CONCACAF (North American federation) qualifying advance to next year’s final qualifying round to decide berths at the 2014 World Cup.
Mexico moved atop Group B with two triumphs. Jesus Zavala scored for Mexico in the 60th minute, Alfredo Pacheco answered for the hosts in the 65th minute and Hector Moreno scored the decider in the 82nd minute for the Tricolores, according to the FIFA World Cup website.
The Salvadoran Football Federation had demanded payment for credentials to reporters and photographers, seen as an infringement to the right to freedom of information, so several major news organizations, including AFP, refused to pay the fees, collecting information on the match from FIFA’s website.
The Canadians are trying to advance to the final qualifying round for the first time since the run-up to the 1998 World Cup. Canada last reached the World Cup in 1986.
Qualifying will not resume until Sept. 7 and 11, when the clubs who have not yet met in each group will play on each other’s home soil.
Those matches will see the United States face Jamaica and Guatemala against Antigua and Barbuda in Group A, Mexico against Costa Rica and El Salvador against Guyana in Group B and Canada against Panama and Cuba against Honduras in Group C. — AFP