Goals by Gerson Lima and Henry Lopez lifted Guatemala to one of its greatest victories on a soccer field Wednesday night, a 2-1 shocker over the U.S. in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship quarterfinals to book its first trip to the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Lopez's goal in the 69th minute carried the host Guatemalans, who bunkered in the back after taking a first-half lead on Lima's header from a corner kick. The U.S., applying heavy pressure throughout the second half, pulled even when Conor Doyle finished a feed from former UCLA star Amobi Okugo in the 66th minute.
Three other quarterfinal winners -- Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica -- also qualified for the July 29-Aug. 20 World Cup in Colombia. The U.S., seeking its eighth successive World Cup berth, featured Chivas USA defender Zarek Valentin, UCLA stars Kelyn Rowe and Eder Arreola, German-based Irvine product Bobby Wood and Mexico-based Oxnard product Moises Orozco.
Mexico meets Panama and Guatemala takes on Costa Rica in Friday's regional semifinals. The title game is Sunday.
The loss means Valentin likely will be available for Chivas on Saturday, when it plays Columbus at Home Depot Center, and throughout the summer.
ELSEWHERE: Real Salt Lake learned its foe in the CONCACAF Champions League final: Monterrey. Chilean World Cup star Humberto Suazo's 81st-minute penalty kick gave the Rayados a 1-1 draw at Mexican rival Cruz Azul and a 3-2 aggregate victory in the semifinal series. Cesar Villaluz scored in the 23rd minute for Cruz Azul, which lost in the past two finals.
RSL, which advanced on 3-2 aggregate after a 2-1 loss Tuesday at Costa Rican powerhouse Saprissa, will visit Monterrey for the April 20 first leg and be home for the April 27 finale.