COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Freddy Adu scored his first goal as a member of the U.S. national team and Jozy Altidore assisted on Kenny Cooper's sliding shot, leading the Americans to a 2-0 win over Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier on a cool Wednesday night.
United States midfielder Freddy Adu, left, pursues the ball with Guatemala defenseman Claudio Albizuris during the first half of a World Cup qualifying soccer match in Commerce City, Colo., on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
The Americans improved to 27-1-7 in home qualifiers since May 1985. The win also prevents Guatemala (1-3-2) from advancing out of Group 1.
With a spot in next year's regional finals already assured, the U.S. national team (5-1) went with a largely inexperienced lineup, leaving Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra out.
The youth certainly didn't disappoint as Adu and Altidore stepped up, especially in the second half, when the Americans scored both goals.
Adu curled a shot into the left corner on a free kick just outside the penalty box in the 69th minute. A diving Ricardo Jerez didn't have a chance on Adu's well-placed shot.
The play was set up after Altidore was grabbed by Yony Flores as he flew past the Guatemalan defender. Flores was given a yellow card for the hold.
The 19-year-old Adu talked Sacha Kljestan into letting him take the kick.
"We were having a long conversation," Adu said, laughing. "Sacha goes, 'All right, I'm hitting this.' I go, 'From here? You crazy?' He goes, 'All right, if you score I won't talk.'"
Kljestan won't say a word as Adu scored his first goal with the national team.
"It's great," Adu said. "It definitely helps your confidence."
Earlier in the second half, Altidore collected a pass and lined the ball into the box, where a sliding Cooper knocked it by Jerez.
It was Cooper's second career goal for the U.S.
Altidore was taken out of the game in the 76th minute, and Adu departed seven minutes later.
Both were given a hearty round of applause from a sparse but enthusiastic crowd that endured 41-degree temperatures.
"I think those two guys are the future of this team, if they can continue improving on the defensive end," team captain Pablo Mastroeni said. "Offensively, I think they're gifted. Tonight, they showed it."
Brad Guzan wasn't tested often, facing just three shots on goal, but had a diving stop late in the game.
Mastroeni was given a yellow card in the 78th minute. It was his second in qualifying, meaning he misses the next match.
"I think the way the game was going, it was a weak yellow," Mastroeni said. "It wasn't from behind. My reputation precedes me a bit. That's the way it goes."
Adu and Altidore both had numerous chances to put the U.S. on the board in the first half.
Altidore found himself alone in the box early in the match, yet elected to pass instead of shoot.
Adu, wearing deep red-colored cleats, sent a shot into the left corner in the 18th minute, but Jerez deflected it away.
Guatemala nearly scored when U.S. defender Clarence Goodson attempted to clear a corner kick just before halftime, lofting it just over the crossbar.
The U.S. is 6-0-4 against Guatemala in World Cup qualifiers.
Los Chapines was under the guidance of new coach Benjamin Monterroso, who replaced Ramon Maradiaga shortly after the team's 2-1 loss to Cuba last month.
Monterroso, known as "Mincho," also managed the team on an interim basis in 1998 and '99. He's a former captain for the national team.