They can say they saw this: a 2-1 victory over Guatemala - helped by a quick U.S. goal and the even-quicker reflexes of goalkeeper David Vanole - that brightened U.S. prospects of becoming one of the two teams to advance to the World Cup.
Having split two matches with Costa Rica and tied Trinidad and Tobago at home, the U.S. team probably needs a victory and at least two more ties in four remaining matches to advance from the Confederation of North, Central and Caribbean American Federations to the Cup.
FINALE IN NOVEMBER
The next stop is a July 9 match in El Salvador, followed by a match in Guatemala, a home match against El Salvador (Nov. 5, site to be determined), and the finale in November at Trinidad-Tobago. The last time the United States
qualified for the Cup was in 1950.
Many U.S. players talked before the match about how a loss would have been crushing. But afterward, Vanole was optimistic.
"I think (opponents) have to worry about us more than we have to worry about them," Vanole said. "We're reaching the top of our game."
Maybe so, but it took a hockey-goalie-like save by Vanole in the last 11 minutes to preserve the victory.
As Guatemala kept the pressure on in the U.S. end, Vanole made a kick-save on a point-blank shot by Guatemala's Adan Paniagua.
BROKE THE TIE
The United States had broken a 1-1 tie at halftime on a goal by forward Eric Eichmann in the 67th minute of the game.
The play started on a corner kick by midfielder Tab Ramos. Guatemala goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez strayed out 15 yards for the ball, but he didn't get to it, beaten by U.S. defender Steve Trittschuh, who headed it toward the goal.
Eichmann then redirected it toward Guatemala midfielder Alejandro Ortiz. The ball deflected off Ortiz, then off the shoulder of teammate Felix McDonald and into the goal.
The United States opened the scoring with a stunner, just 2 minutes and 8 seconds into the game.
Jerez, the Guatemala goalie, started to move out from his net to his left to chase down a free kick by Brian Bliss.
Realizing he couldn't reach it, Jerez turned back. This left U.S. midfielder John Harkes to go after the ball. He reached it, then turned and flipped a pass to forward Bruce Murray in front of the net.
Without letting it touch the ground, Murray shot it past the left side of Jerez.
"I was the most surprised guy on the field," Murray said of receiving the pass.
After the goal, the United States kept pressuring Guatemala through the first 20 minutes of the match. But the score was even when Raul Chacon took a pass from Juan Funes and bounced it off the left post and into the net at the 21:34 mark of the match.