US Gets Late Draw to Put Honduras in World Cup

15 October 2009

The hours between 8 pm and 10 pm may have been some of the most exciting we've seen in CONCACAF in a long time. When it was all said and done, 95th minute magic by a side already in the World Cup put the side they defeated on Saturday in.

I will be honest from the outset and say that I did not see all ninety minutes of the United States's clash with Costa Rica. What I saw from the first twenty-five minutes sickened me. Conor Casey found his national team form we all came to hate and despise, Jozy Altidore was walking the tightrope of being sent off; and oh yea, after missing at least 2 golden scoring opportunities, Costa Rica in the span of 3 minutes went 2-0 up. The first goal was simply worthless defending from Gooch, the second coming down to poor defending off a throw in. That said, Ruiz's second goal from the edge of the penalty area was a thunderbolt very few keepers in the world would have saved. I was so disgusted I didn't even bother turning on ESPN360, but turning on Mun2 instead to watch Trinidad and Tobago against Mexico. At the time that game was goalless.

What I wasn't expecting to see was T&T looking the stronger team. Mexico looked like it has already checked out of qualifying, already knowing they were heading to South Africa. What I wasn't expecting was T&T to take the lead. In truth, the referee had no choice but to give T&T the penalty when Torrado used his hand to play the ball. Kerry Baptiste though, placed his penalty perfect past the diving Ochoa.

The second half was pure drama. From Mexico getting their first equalizer, to Baptiste putting T&T back in the lead, the action was just beginning. Then Carlos Pavon put Honduras ahead in El Salvador and gave them hope. However, at that time, it looked grim as Costa Rica was still two goals to the good. At about the same time (with me deciding to throw on ESPN360 to see end the end of the game), Mexico equalized and Michael Bradley pulled one back for the United States. I'm not fond of Michael Bradley right now. He is not playing well at Gladbach right now, but it was his goal that gave the United States hope of an unlikely equalizer.

Then tragedy for the United States. Already using three subs, Gooch tears his Patella Tendon. It was about this moment Costa Rica, I felt, thought they had qualification already secured and let up their play. The United States on the other hand, kept huffing and puffing for an equalizer that would see them top the hex. If it couldn't get any worse for Costa Rica, their manager and assistant manager were sent off for protesting too much on a foul late. That gave us five minutes of second half stoppage time and the unlikeliest of hero's in Jonathan Bornstein. It was a perfect corner; how 11 men could leave a side down to ten unmarked is beyond me. But Bornstein finished the header perfectly to cap off qualifying on top, and well as putting Honduras into the World Cup.

If there is any story that is not getting the play it deserves tonight, it's that Honduras is going to the World Cup. After their heartbreaking loss to the United States last Saturday night, I did not expect them to go to El Salvador and win. Carlos Pavon with one header went from zero to hero. After all the political turmoil, after being so close for so long, Honduras deserves this opportunity.

For the United States, they willed themselves to this late draw while Costa Rica imploded. When it's all said and done, Costa Rica more than likely played their way out of the World Cup.

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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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