Similar to his growing role with Sounders FC, Marco Pappa has stepped into a leadership role on the Guatemalan National Team in recent years.
By dominating at the Copa Centroamericana last fall, Pappa added to an impressive resume that has led him to become one of the most prominent soccer figures in his native country. The veteran midfielder earned his 38th and 39th international caps during the last week, appearing in Guatemala’s first two matches of 2015.
“It’s always good to play for the National Team, because you’re representing you’re country,” Pappa said Thursday upon his return Sounders FC training. “All the best players are there, so it makes you feel important to your country. It’s good to go to the National Team for my confidence.”
Guatemala played a pair of friendlies on U.S. soil, first taking on Canada in Miami last Friday and then facing El Salvador on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Pappa’s squad did not get the results it was looking for, though, as it lost 1-0 to Canada and was held to a scoreless draw with El Salvador.
Pappa played 32 minutes on Friday, hitting the crossbar on a shot in the second half that would have tied the match. He played 80 minutes against El Salvador, and despite his team not finding the back of the net, Guatemala once again had its share of scoring opportunities.
“I think even though the results weren’t the best for us, we played two good games,” Pappa said. “When there are friendly games, you always want to take advantage of that. I think it can be good for our confidence with what is coming. I’m looking forward to what’s next.”
In a couple of months, Guatemala will begin its quest to qualify for the nation’s first-ever FIFA World Cup. The team takes on Bermuda in a pair of early-stage qualifying matches this June.
Pappa has scored three goals in World Cup qualifiers, including one against the U.S. in 2012.
In July, Guatemala will be participating in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is being played at various stadiums across the country. Guatemala qualified via its second-place finish at the Copa Centroamericana.