A resourceful, gritty victory for the US, which should shut up the critics including myself for the foreseeable future. Again all odds, and an infamous referee known for favoring Latin teams over the US or Caribbean based sides, the Americans rallied for three second half goals in a match the US basically controlled from minute twenty five onward. The US has now qualified for six straight World Cups, a truly impressive feat.
Conor Casey’s performance was nothing short of remarkable. The Bundesliga flame out, whose MLS form has been outstanding was the man of the match. But the moment of the match was amazing free kick by Landon Donovan in minute 71 after Casey had been taken down. Before the match, controversy shrouded the pick of Casey to start over Brian Ching. Perhaps, Ching was injured or Bradley just had a gut felling. Bradley’s gut let him down in Mexico when he started a woeful Steve Cherundolo ahead of Jonathan Spector, but tonight his gut was correct.
Casey had never scored for the US before tonight. The striker added a dimension sorely lacking in the current US attack, with some timely runs, and persistent psychical play. Brian Ching for all his assets has not produced in a single big match, the way Conor Casey did tonight.
We must all feel for Honduras tonight. Once again, they have come up short in a big game. Recall eight years ago they just needed one victory in their last two Hexagonal matches to qualify and they didn’t do it. This go round, they have looked spectacular at times but the political unrest at home and the lack of a true creative force in the midfield was just too much to overcome.
Costa Rica’s 4-0 victory, combined with their U-20 teams great performance in the U-20 World Cup has lifted the spirits of the Ticos and further crushed the Hondurans. Costa Rica will face Brazil in the semifinals in Egypt this week, and should the Ticos win, they would be the first CONCACAF side to make the U-20 World Cup final ever.
Interestingly, Honduras without Amado Guevara due to a silly suspension (Guevara picked up what can only be called a dumb yellow towards the end of Honduras’ loss to Mexico) had no creative force in the midfield and appeared totally disjointed and outclassed much of the night. The US on the other hand, did not get much down the flanks tonight and exhibited some comical defending out wide.
Yet, when two flawed teams meet, and alot is at stake, you tend to get classics. The US is flawed indeed, but with heart like tonight, the US can beat anybody, anytime. Again, it is just a matter of consistency and always playing with an aggression and passion for the game.
Tonight, the US showed the world how good this team can be. They must strive for consistency, but if they do play like this next summer, Sunil Gulati could get the last laugh on all of us.