Friday, February 8, 2013
USA falls 2-1 to Honduras to kick off the final round of Qualifying
The United States kicked off the final round of Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but not the way they would've wanted. The Americans fell 2-1 on the road to a very tough Honduras team in the first of 10 hexagonal matches on the road to Brazil. The loss now leads to questions and concerns leading up to their next World Cup Qualifier on March 22nd against Costa Rica, which will take place at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. Questions like, why the hell did USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann go with a 4-3-3 formation? Why did he bench Carlos Bocanegra? You know, those kind of questions. And concerns on whether or not the U.S. can put this loss behind them and show up with a different mentality in their next match six weeks from now. Not that this was an upset because it was not even close to being an upset. We knew Honduras wasn't going to be a gimme for the American's, but when you look at the upcoming schedule in qualifying, this team is looking at what we consider a figurative must-win game against Costa Rica.
Not much action early on until the 23rd minute. Oscar Boniek Garcia tried to dribble around Geoff Cameron but had the ball poked off his feet by the Stoke City defender. The ball rolled to Roger Espinoza for a turning shot, but it was right at goalkeeper Tim Howard.
In the 26th minute, the U.S. had an opportunity to go up 1-0. Jermaine Jones took the corner from the near hash mark and his inswinger found Geoff Cameron whose header sailed well over the top. Eddie Johnson was also there and I've looked at the replay of this opportunity a few times and it almost looks like the ball came off EJ's head, but I'm pretty sure Cameron got a head to it because if Johnson got to head to it, then it probably would've been a goal from my point of view. I don't know, but the bottomline is, the U.S. missed a set piece opportunity.
A couple minutes later, the U.S. came so close to breaking the deadlock. Jermaine Jones played a beautiful diagonal ball to the near side for Eddie Johnson who had plenty of room out there. Johnson settled the ball before curling it into the area for Jozy Altidore who just flicked it over the bar.
From about the 30th minute to the end of the match, the American's started to get a little sloppy with their passing. Especially in their own area that nearly lead to goals by Honduras. You can also add crappy defending to that list as well. In the 31st minute, Carlo Costly chipped the ball in the penalty area for Roger Espinoza who got by Danny Williams and square the ball across for Oscar Boniek Garcia, but Fabian Johnson stepped in and cleared the ball away before Boniek Garcia had a chance to tap the ball into an empty net.
Shortly after, another giveaway by the U.S. in their own area allowed Mario Martinez to cut inside with his left foot and curl his shot toward the far post, but Tim Howard punched the ball over bar to keep the match at 0-0.
That lead was short lived however. In the 40th minute, Honduras hit back. Mario Martinez took the corner from the far hash mark and curled the ball into the area which was headed away by Omar Gonzalez. The attack wasn't over tough. Victor Bernardez tracked the ball down on the near side and sent it toward the back post for Maynor Figueroa who headed the ball back across and just when you though Geoff Cameron was going to clear the ball away, Juan Carlos Garcia connects on the bicycle kick and all Tim Howard could do on that play was watch it because there was no way in hell he could've kept that out and Honduras leveled the match up at 1-1 on the stroke of halftime.
In the 79th minute, Honduras took advantage of some lazy defending from the back line and took the lead. Maynor Figueroa poked the ball into the area with the outside of his boot for Oscar Boniek Garcia to chase and it looked like he wasn't going to get there before Tim Howard came out to claim it, but Geoff Cameron let him get there and Boniek Garcia poked the ball across and Jerry Bengtson beat Omar Gonzalez, who was late to react, to the ball and slam it into the empty net for what turned out to be the game winner and USA's final round of qualifying starts out poorly.
Also, you start Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson and all of us our expecting both of them to make a lot of runs from the back and get in on the attack for the U.S. and we saw none of that. And why not? How can you start those two and not get them to go forward? Of course this is Chandler's first competitive game for the United States because of the fact that Steve Cherundolo is out injured and he just underwent minor knee surgery so I don't think he'll be fully recovered in time for the Costa Rica match. One more thing defensively, you bench Carlos Bocanegra? Honestly, starting Cameron and Gonzalez back there was a big mistake. I've heard people say Bocanegra wouldn't have made a difference back there. EH EH!! WRONG!! I probably would've half expected Gonzalez and Bocanegra to partner up in the center of defense, but in big games like this you have to stick with your leader at all costs. Bocanegra has been back there a lot with Geoff Cameron, he's been back there a lot with Fabian Johnson, and has been back there a couple times with Chandler. He absolutely would've made a difference. If there was a mix up defensively, then you would have Bocanegra talk it over for a few seconds and hope that it doesn't happen again. But because he wasn't out there, the same mistake happened over and over again and Honduras took advantage of it.
I hope within the next six weeks, Jurgen decides to not only make a couple of changes to the lineup, but changes his tactics as well and goes back to a 4-4-2. This kind of crap he's using does not work for this team. We need guys who can get the crosses into the box, no short passes through the middle. Another thing, if there's a counter attacking opportunity, don't slow the play down and let your opponents get back, you get your asses forward immediately and catch them on the break. I've said this a number of times and I'm going to say it again, what we saw on Wednesday does not work for the U.S. and will never work. This better be fixed.
United States - Clint Dempsey (Jermaine Jones) 36'
Honduras - Juan Carlos Garcia (Maynor Figueroa) 40'
Honduras - Jerry Bengtson (Oscar Boniek Garcia) 79'
United States - Tim Howard; Timothy Chandler, Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Fabian Johnson; Jermaine Jones (Graham Zusi 67'), Danny Williams (Maurice Edu 58'), Michael Bradley; Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson (Sacha Kljestan 59')
Honduras - Noel Valladares; Arnold Peralta, Victor Bernardez, Maynor Figueroa, Juan Carlos Garcia; Oscar Boniek Garcia, Luis Garrido, Roger Espinoza, Mario Martinez; Jerry Bengtson (Jorge Claros 84'), Carlo Costly (Georgie Welcome 93'+)