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Though the U.S. men’s national team was staring down the barrel ahead of their CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match against Guatemala on Tuesday evening in Columbus, Ohio, the Sounders with national-team ties attempted to quell rising panic Tuesday after practice Starfire Sports Complex Tukwila.

Anything but a win at Mapfre Stadium would have left the U.S. chasing from behind with two matches remaining in this qualification stage, while a loss could have all but eliminated from the competition more than two years before the tournament actually kicks off in Russia.

The calls for calm turned out to be prescient.

Sounders forward Clint Dempsey became the country’s top goal scorer in World Cup qualifying, and his 12th-minute strike led the way as the U.S. dominated Guatemala 4-0. The U.S. leapfrogged the visitors in the Group C standings and controls its destiny.

“Let’s not be Chicken Little and say, ‘The sky is falling. The sky is falling,’ ” said Seattle coach Sigi Schmid, who has served as a national-team assistant and twice coached its U-20 teams. “I think we’re very quick to do that. Things are going to happen. Streaks come to an end. The streak with Guatemala came to an end.

“I think everybody saw the game, so they can draw their own conclusions. But we’re a team that should qualify for the World Cup. We should get out of this group into the (six-team final round). I think the response (Tuesday night) should be good.”

Sounders defender Brad Evans, who has earned 26 national team appearances, recalled the nervy moments of the previous qualification cycle, recalling forward Eddie Johnson’s heroics.

“CONCACAF is tough,” Evans said. “It’s a very hard region. Going away from places isn’t the same as Germany going into Holland and staying at really nice hotels and playing on really nice pitches, and their fans come and fill half the stadium. It’s a little bit tougher, in my experience.”