USA 2 Honduras 1: Job Done but Same Old Story.

06 June 2009

The United States knew what they had to do tonight. One point was not an option. No points may have been the spark of whole sale changes to the US National Team (I will concede they would have had to wait until after the Mexico game at Azteca to make those changes). The US needed to respond big and get three points.

When it was all said and done, it wasn't pretty. It was just what the USA needed as Carlos Bocanegra headed the United States past Honduras at a very Honduras partisan Soldier Field.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear, this was not a pretty game. It was everything you expected from a CONCACAF qualifier. Physical from minute one, the US being pressured at every turn and giving the ball up with ease. The opener was a joke giveaway from Dempsey. The bigger joke was the fact Carlos Costly got the ball in perfect shooting position. It was the horrific start that I envisioned and seriously wondered if the US had it in them to respond.

I will admit I was wrong. The US shook off the early jitters and responded with a passion that should be expected in every match. Their touches, crisp. Their passing, accurate. Their final product, still leaving something to be desired. Two players who deserve credit for getting the US back into this match are Conor Casey and Jonathan Spector. Casey did well inside the box, Spector did well to get balls into the mixer.

The US equalizer was deserved. After taking control of the match, Mario Beata turned into a Gaelic Footballer with his dribble. Only problem is you can't use the hands and with it being inside the box it was a stone cold penalty. Donovan finished with ease and was the just reward needed for their pressure heading into halftime. The game winner for the US, set piece magic. Perfect free kick, perfect flick central and the perfect diving header by Carlos Bocanegra. The US had the precious lead, but could they hold on...

That is because not long after giving the US the lead, Bocanegra ends up off the park due to injury and Jay DeMerit called in. Frankly he was not even adequate. Honduras had their seam in the middle of the defense to exploit and boy did they do so with regularity. With Beasley's inclusion, Honduras then had two points on the park to exploit, and they did so well. If not for Gooch and Tim Howard in the final quarter hour, we aren't talking three points. However the US held on for the win, and with El Salvador's shock win tonight against Mexico 2-1, could already have one foot in the door for World Cup 2010.

When it's all said and done, the performance wasn't convincing. The US again failed to score from open play, and had to rely on a penalty and a set piece to score. At the Confederations Cup, the US won't be so fortunate to get spot kicks and you can be certain teams will defend set pieces much better than Honduras did tonight. If anything, it was the same old same from the United States. That alone should be major cause for concern heading forward.

Other Talking Points
1) I don't care that we won, Bob Bradley and everyone else associated with Soccer House and the USSF better have a damn good reason why Jose Francisco Torres and Freddy Adu weren't even in the starting 18 for tonight's game. Frankly, both should be in the starting 11 for every match. It is embarrassing that two of your best players aren't even playing.

2) If Jay DeMerit is our third option at center back, the US is in more trouble than I thought. Again, it's a damn pity that Bob Bradley doesn't rate Michael Parkhurst.

3) I hope this wasn't a one off from Benny Feilhaber, who in forty-five minutes tonight looked impressive. If he continues to play like this and keeps his super-ego in check, then we have a very reliable option in midfield.

4) Based on performance tonight, I'd rather have Conor Casey starting than Brian Ching. I'm sure I will probably be in the minority on that one.

What are your thoughts on this US performance tonight? Let us know by leaving a comment below.


Anonymous June 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM  

"[T]the USSF better have a damn good reason Jose Francisco Torres and Freddy Adu weren't even in the starting 18 for tonight's game. Frankly, both should be in the starting 11 for every match. It is embarrassing that two of your best players aren't even playing."

Amen, dude. The US needs true ball-handlers to advance the ball and create. Torres and Adu have real creative ability, and yet they're treated like stepchildren.

Anonymous June 7, 2009 at 11:40 AM  

Torres is by far the most technical player the US has. Not dressing is further evidence Bradley is a fool.

Anonymous June 7, 2009 at 12:39 PM  

DeMerit, Califf and Parkhurst have all failed as replacements. Why not try Spector inside?

Anonymous June 8, 2009 at 6:24 PM  

Conor was terrible...were you watching the same game. M Bradley was missed. The Hondurans were not physical...they fell over if they were breathed on.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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