The USA's best friend in the semifinal stage of World Cup qualifying is Antigua & Barbuda.
The Benna Boys took two points away from Jamaica when they held the Reggae Boyz to a 0-0
tie at home in June, and for a while on Friday night it looked like they would get a result in Guatemala City.
Peter Byers -- who had scored against the USA in Tampa in June -- put
A&B ahead in the 39th minute, and the Benna Boys led until Carlos Ruiz scored in the 58th minute.
The game turned when Benna Boy keeper Molvin James was sent off in the 76th minute.
Two minutes later, Ruiz put Guatemala ahead, and Dwight Pezzarossi's goal wrapped up the 3-1 win in stoppage time.
GROUP A PROSPECTS. By virtue of its
1-1 tie at Guatemala in June, the USA is still in good shape to win Group A and advance to next year's Hexagonal.
If forms holds -- the three teams in contention win at home and defeat
Antigua & Barbuda -- the final standings would be: 1. USA 13 points; 2. Jamaica 10; Guatemala 10; Antigua & Barbuda.
Group A: Jamaica 7 points; USA, Guatemala 4; Antigua & Barbuda 1.
Group B: Mexico 9 points; Costa Rica 4;
El Salvador 2; Guyana 1.
Group C: Canada 7; Panama 6; Honduras 4; Cuba 0.
EUROPE, DAY 1. The winners on
the first day of qualifying in Europe included ...
Robbie Keane. The Galaxy striker scored in Ireland's late 2-1 comeback win at Kazakhstan.
France. The Bleus won, 1-0, at Finland on a goal by Arsenal's Abou Diaby.
Belgium. The Red Devils'
Golden Generation began with a 2-0 win in Wales on goals by Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen.
Iceland. The No. 6 seed in Group E knocked
off No. 1 seed Norway with a 2-0 win on goals by Kari Arnason and Alfred Finnbogason.
Edin Dzeko. The Manchester City forward scored a hat trick,
becoming Bosnia's all-time leading scorer with 25 goals, in its 8-1 victory at Liechtenstein.
TWO MORE LEGIONNAIRES. Add two more players to the list of U.S.-born or -raised players representing foreign national teams in qualifying: Jamaica's Joel Senior and Guatemala's Henry Lopez.
Senior, a late bloomer, came on late in Jamaica's 2-1 win over the USA.
He attended Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington and Howard and James Madison. He moved back to Jamaica in 2011 and plays for Harbour View.
Best known for the goal that knocked
the USA out of the 2011 Under-20 World Cup qualifying, Lopez moved to Northern Virginia as a high school student. Only 20, he recently joined Tigres in Mexico from Brazilian club Noroeste.
BRAZIL WATCH. Host Brazil was jeered at home on Independence Day as it struggled to a 1-0 win over South Africa in a friendly
that drew more than 50,000 fans at Sao Paulo's Morumbi Stadium. The result will only increase the calls for Coach Mano Menezes' resignation.
"The fans have the right to
behave anyway they want, we can't change that,'' said Menezes. "But we need their support to put this team together for the World Cup. It will be easier if they are on our side.''
MESSI HIGHLIGHTS. Lionel Messi is on a roll with his free-kick goals. He did it again with the third goal in Argentina's 3-1 over Paraguay in Cordoba.
Check it out here.
Friend Soccer America: Facebook
Sign up: World Cup Watch