Los Angeles: The United States got their flagging 2018 World Cup qualification campaign back on track on Tuesday with a 4-0 thrashing of Guatemala.
A shock 2-0 defeat to the Guatemalans last Friday had left Jurgen Klinsmann’s side facing a must-win return fixture in Columbus, where a defeat would have all but eliminated them from North, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) zone qualifiers.
But the USA, who have appeared at every World Cup finals since the 1990 tournament in Italy, never looked like being denied all three points as they dominated from the opening minutes.
The first American goal came in the 12th minute, when a long ball forward caused confusion as Los Angeles Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes darted forward.
The second goal arrived just after the half-hour mark.
Germany-based winger Bobby Wood went on a jinking run wide out on the left only to be brought down by a clumsy challenge from Cristian Jimenez, who was booked.
Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley stepped up for the free-kick and curled in a superb ball for Geoff Cameron, who thumped home the header for 2-0.
It got better for the home fans within 20 seconds of the second half when the USA went 3-0 up with a goal created inadvertently by Zardes after he miscontrolled a pass from DeAndre Yedlin.
The Americans continued to torment the visitors and went 4-0 ahead when Dempsey pounced on another blunder to tee up substitute Jozy Altidore to crash home the finish.
Elsewhere Tuesday, Mexico guaranteed their place in the final round with a 2-0 win over Canada in Group A. The victory leaves Mexico with 12 points from four games, with two rounds left to play. Mexico are eight points clear of second placed Honduras.
In Group B, Costa Rica and Panama are favored to progress. Costa Rica, 3-0 winners over Jamaica on Tuesday, lead Panama by three points.