Clint Dempsey's early goal set the USA on its way to a vital three points.
The U.S. men's national team had been in this position in past World Cup qualifying cycles, and it just like it had done previously, it secured the necessary result to ease a lot of pressure.
Facing a dire World Cup qualifying scenario, the U.S. defeated Guatemala 4-0 in Columbus, Ohio, to jump back into the top two in CONCACAF's Group C. Clint Dempsey scored in the 12th minute to relieve some early tension, and Geoff Cameron, Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore added goals later on to claim three points for the Americans.
Cameron's ball out of the back sprung the opening goal, with Gyasi Zardes managing to touch it down despite being sandwiched by two defenders. Dempsey pounced on the ball some 14 yards from goal and finished for his 14th career World Cup qualifying goal, the most of all time for the U.S.. That broke a tie with Landon Donovan, whom he trails by eight for most total goals in U.S. history.
Cameron then wound up on the other end, heading home Michael Bradley's free kick in the 35th minute. Bradley bent in his set piece from the left, and Cameron met it at the top of the six-yard box for his third goal in his last five U.S. matches.
Bradley later picked up a yellow card that will cause him to miss the Sept. 2 qualifier at St. Vincent and the Grenadines due to card accumulation.
Zusi put any lingering doubt to bed 20 seconds into the second half, pouncing on a loose ball in the Guatemala box that came off an errant touch from Zardes and finishing from close range. Zusi was only called in after injuries sent John Brooks, Matt Besler and Fabian Johnson back to their clubs.
Altidore finished off the rout, taking a ball from Dempsey and finishing with power after Guatemala had turned the ball over in its own defensive third.
Another item of note took place with about 10 minutes to go, as Christian Pulisic subbed into the game. The 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund player on the rise became the youngest U.S. player to appear in a World Cup qualifier and also becomes cap-tied to the USA by virtue of appearing in an official competition. He was also eligible to represent Croatia.
Here's how the crucial match unfolded:
GOALKEEPERS: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton FC), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS: Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Monterrey), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland)
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes FC), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers FC), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
GOALKEEPERS: Jose Carlos Garcia (Coban Imperial), Paulo Motta (Municipal), Ricardo Jerez (Alianza Petrolera)
DEFENDERS: Carlos Castrillo (Comunicaciones), Stefano Cincotta (Chemnitzer FC) Luis Cardona (Comunicaciones), Moises Hernandez (FC Dallas), Cristian Jimenez (Municipal), Hamilton Lopez (Xelaju), Jonathan Lopez (Marquense), Rafael Morales (Comunicaciones)
MIDFIELDERS: Gerardo Arias (Municipal), Jose Contreras (Comunicaciones), Jean Marquez (Comunicaciones), Marco Pappa (Colorado Rapids), Marco Rivas (Municipal), Rodrigo Saravia (Columbus Crew SC)
FORWARDS: Kevin Arriola (Xelaju), Edi Danilo Guerra (Guastatoya), Mafre Icute (Coban Imperial), Luis Martinez (Xelaju), Carlos Ruiz (Municipal), Gerson Tinoco (Coban Imperial)