NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Clint Dempsey converted a penalty kick in his return from a suspension for a confrontation with a referee, Timmy Chandler scored his first international goal and the United States routed Guatemala 4-0 Friday night in an exhibition ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Just after goalkeeper Paulo Motta saved Jozy Altidore’s penalty kick with his right arm, the Americans went ahead on an own goal in the 19th minute, when Carlos Castrillo headed a cross from 6 yards into his own goal.
Playing his 22nd international match, Chandler doubled the lead in the 58th minute. Dempsey, replaced as captain by Michael Bradley, converted the penalty kick in the 72nd minute after Castrillo fouled Bradley. Chris Wondolowski had a tap-in in the 86th minute after Gyasi Zardes dribbled the ball to the end line and cut it back.
The U.S. opens the defense of its Gold Cup title on Tuesday. If the Americans win the tournament, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean, they would qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Wearing stars and stripes numbers on players’ backs on the Fourth of July weekend, the Americans improved to 15-0-6 in their last 21 matches against Guatemala, their longest unbeaten streak against any nation.
Dempsey was suspended for three games by Major League Soccer for a confrontation with a referee June 16 in Seattle’s fourth-round loss to Portland in the U.S. Open Cup, when he grabbed a notebook from the official and tore it after a teammate was given a red card. He also was suspended from the Open Cup for at least two years.
Klinsmann announced this week that Bradley was replacing Dempsey as the U.S. captain for the Gold Cup “to take the heat off Clint.”
Dempsey’s goal was his 41st for the national team, 16 shy of Landon Donovan’s career record.
Brad Guzan, the U.S. starting goalkeeper for the Gold Cup, got the shutout.
NOTES: Donovan appeared to criticize Klinsmann when he tweeted Tuesday about the U.S. women’s team: “Love the enthusiasm and veteran presence of @AbbyWambach despite not playing much. That kind of leadership is priceless during a WC” ... Donovan was among the final seven cuts from Klinsmann’s World Cup roster last year, denying him a fourth trip to soccer’s top tournament.