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USMNT cruise past Guatemala in final Gold Cup tune up

Omar Gonzalez, Gyasi Zardes go 45 minutes apiece

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The US Men's National Team methodically beat Guatemala 4-0 in their final Gold Cup tune-up before a record crowd of 44,835 at Nissan Field in Nashville, Tennessee.

Somewhat hindered by a dry, slow grass surface and a Guatemalan defense with plenty of numbers behind the ball, the USA enjoyed a vast majority of possession but struggled at first to create any offense.

The U.S. had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 17th minute when Jozy Altidore was foolishly hauled down in the box and the ref called a penalty kick, but his attempt left something to be desired as goalkeeper Paulo Motta dove to his right to make the stop.

However, luck favored the US a minute later when DeAndre Yedlin beat Wilson Lalin to the end line and gently floated a cross that defender Carlos Castrillo negligently headed into the net for an own goal.

Despite the USA comfortably winning the contest, the defense occasionally looked suspect. Right after the own goal, Omar Gonzalez was beaten to a long ball which left Minor Lopez alone on the top of the box, but Brad Guzan was quick off his line to prevent Lopez from getting a clean shot on goal.

Guzan would have to make a few big stops later in the half, but nothing too serious.

Clint Dempsey started to pick it up towards the end of the half, slaloming in the box while attempting to cross, then utilizing a double step over move to draw a foul 25 yards out, however Dempsey ended up firing the free kick into the arms of Motta.

Gyasi Zardes replaced Graham Zusi at the half, while Omar Gonzalez made way for Ventura Alvarado.

Right away, Brad Guzan had to fall to his left to cradle a quick shot from Carlos Meija.

The US escaped a close call soon afterwards when Guzan was barged into by Carlos Ruiz during a cross sequence and the rebound bounced to Ruiz, but the former Galaxy forward blew his close range attempt with a wide open goal in front of him.

The game descended into a scrappy midfielder battle, then the crowd woke up when a pinpoint Timmy Chandler cross found Dempsey streaking inside the box, however Dempsey could only connect with his shin and the ball trickled wide.

Chandler then capitalized on the increasing American pressure, accepting a pass from DeAndre Yedlin on the right corner of the area and dribbling across the box without much pressure before unleashing a left footed rocket that Motta had no chance of saving.

A wild sequence led to the third U.S. goal. Yedlin raced inside the area with plenty of space and hesitated before squaring a ball inside for Dempsey, but the Sounders forward failed to make the run. Gyasi Zardes hustled to save the ball from running out of bounds and quickly layed off to Michael Bradley, and Bradley dribbled inside the box before accepting contact from the Guatemalan defender and drawing another penalty for the USA.

This time Dempsey make sure to convert, moving to his left before exquisitely chipping over Motta in the 72nd minute.

A fantastic individual effort from Gyasi Zardes sealed Guatemala's misery. After playing the ball back and collecting a Wondo give and go, Zardes beat his defender to the endline and squared to a racing Wondolowski, who beat the flat footed defender to knock home the final tally.

The USA open the Gold Cup vs. Honduras Tuesday July 7th at Toyota Stadium in Frisco Texas. (6:30 pm, Fox Sports 1)