KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The U.S. won't be the only team playing short-handed in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier. Guatemala, which, like the U.S., needs only a tie to advance to the final round of regional qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, is missing three key members of the team that played the U.S. to a 1-1 draw in June.
Out with injuries are defenders Carlos Gallardo, Elias Vasquez and Luis Rodriguez. The U.S., meanwhile, is without five players called up last week. Landon Donovan (knee), Brek Shea (oblique) and Edgar Castillo (foot) are all injured, while defender Fabian Johnson never left Germany because of a bout with the stomach flu and midfielder Jermaine Jones was returned to Germany after drawing a yellow card late in Friday's 2-1 win over Antigua & Barbuda.
That foul left Jones suspended for Tuesday's match at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City.
The U.S. and Guatemala are tied atop the table of their four-team group with 10 points each, and they have equal goal differentials of plus-3. As a result, both teams will advance to next year's hexagonal round of qualifying with a tie.
Jamaica, second in the group with seven points, can also qualify, but it will need a one-sided victory over winless Antigua and a one-sided loss by either the U.S. or Guatemala.
As a result, expect Guatemala to play conservatively Tuesday to protect its place in the standings.
But despite the injuries -- Guatemala is also missing midfielder Alejandro Galindo, sidelined since August with a knee problem -- the Central Americans still have weapons. Among them is former Galaxy star Carlos Ruiz, who was Major League Soccer's leading scorer and MVP in 2002, when he led the team to its first league title.
He'll play alongside onetime Chicago Fire standout Marco Pappa, now playing in the Dutch league. It was Pappa's late free-kick goal that gave Guatemala its June tie with the U.S. in Guatemala.