Carlos Ruiz had just turned in the performance of the CONCACAF Gold Cup thus far, scoring three goals for Guatemala in a stadium he helped open.
But Ruiz would not smile Friday night. He could not. Not after the Chapines had been upset by Jamaica at the Home Depot Center, 4-3, and certainly not with what is ahead for Guatemala.
Guatemala faces four-time Gold Cup champion and tournament favorite Mexico today at the Coliseum. And with Mexico's 2-1 upset loss to South Africa earlier Friday evening in Group C play, tiebreaker procedures make advancing to the quarterfinals a bleak proposition for the loser of today's match.
"For both Mexico and Guatemala it's important because whoever loses, they get knocked out of the Gold Cup," said Ruiz, a former Galaxy striker. "We have to play better and not give up so many goals."
But what more can Ruiz do than get a hat trick?
"Try to score some more goals," he said.
Mexico, meanwhile, was decidedly more upbeat after its first first-round loss in the Gold Cup ended its eight-game unbeaten streak in the tournament.
"There are some games you just can't win," Mexico Coach Ricardo Lavolpe said with a shrug after Mexico fell to South Africa, despite holding a 21-9 advantage in shots and South Africa's bringing what was essentially a "B" team to the tournament.
"This is only one result."
Said forward Carlos Arnaldo Salcido: "We have to go forward."
And from reserve forward Juan Pablo Garcia, who will join Chivas USA in Major League Soccer after Mexico's run in the Gold Cup comes to a close, "We need more patience and more tranquillity."
The way Mexico fans see it, a "home" game against Guatemala may provide the necessary tonic for a team that has suddenly dropped three straight matches after being unbeaten for 20 straight and advancing to the semifinals of last month's FIFA Confederations Cup in Germany.
After all, El Tri has had much success against the Chapines, recently beating them, 2-0, in Guatemala in World Cup qualifying.
Plus, in Gold Cup play, Mexico is 3-0-1 against Guatemala with a 6-2 edge in goals.
If Guatemala cannot beat a rebuilding Jamaica squad, how does it expect to take down Mexico, which figures to regain a shooting touch that went awry against South Africa?
Until South Africa scored on Mexico in the 28th minute, Mexico was carrying a 628-minute shutout streak in the Gold Cup. The last team to score a Gold Cup goal on Mexico before South Africa? Guatemala, at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 21, 2002.
"We allowed Jamaica to take the game to us," said Guatemala Coach Ramon Maradiaga. "Playing from behind, we got caught on the counterattack.
"We knew we definitely could not look past Jamaica to Mexico and now we face a very physical game."
Mexico faces a dangerous scoring machine in Ruiz.
"You can't give him an inch," said Jamaica midfielder Andy Williams, "he'll take a mile."
Jamaica defender Tyrone Marshall, who played with Ruiz for three years on the Galaxy before he was shipped to FC Dallas this off-season, spoke of Ruiz's reputation for being a flopper.
"These guys, you touch them, they go down," Marshall said.
"Carlos is going to find his little gaps. He's always lurking around the goal."
Especially at the Home Depot Center, which Ruiz christened with two goals on June 7, 2003.
"For two years it was home," Ruiz said. "But when I come back with Dallas to play the Galaxy or Chivas, that is something that's very difficult."
A loss to Mexico at the vast Coliseum and elimination from the Gold Cup would be just as hard to smile about.