The result in the afternoon tilt between the USA and Honduras was not a pretty one. After reasonably positioning themselves in the first half, the second stanza could have been brilliant with a second goal or at least a possible draw. But as we all saw, the mental mistakes coupled with inspired play from Honduras dropped the US. Los Catrachos grabbed the full three points.
But while USA supporters resigned themselves to the thought they had already fallen three behind multiple teams with the loss in Honduras, something strange happened later that evening. Out of nowhere, we saw the remaining two qualifying matches end in surprising draws that saved the USA from even a possible bigger hole – even though it is only the first of ten Qualifying match dates.
The first surprise came in two sides that recently played in the UNCAF Centroamericana tournament. Panama got off to a roaring start in the 16th minute when Luis Henriquez got the first goal of the match, and then Roman Torres added a second in the 27th minute. But it was Real Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio that pulled one back late in the first half around the 40th minute to keep Costa Rica’s chances alive at 2-1.
It would be late in the second half as Bryan Ruiz converted the equalizer at Rommel Fernandez Stadium in the 84th minute. Costa Rica ended up stealing a point away from Panama in surprising fashion, putting both of those teams at one point.
But the bigger surprise came in the capital city of Mexico, as the only country to represent the Caribbean earned a historic point. Lanky keeper and captain of the Reggae Boys Donovan Ricketts played one of his best matches for his National Team on Wednesday night. Every single time Mexico threatened Jamaica’s net, Ricketts stopped every challenge from Javier Hernandez and Giovanni Dos Santos (who was subbed out at the beginning of 1st half stoppage time).
But for the Reggae Boys and Mexico, they join Costa Rica and Panama as the four sides to earn a point while Honduras leads with three. That means the US is bringing up the bottom on its own, something that should leave Jurgen Klinsmann and the team bitter and ready for March.
Honestly, these draws should take some of the nasty taste out of your mouths when the two matches in the end of March come around. But while this might or might not ease the USMNT loss down in San Pedro Sula, Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann is on notice that he needs to change his tactics and formation when they convene again in just over a month (they host Costa Rica on March 22nd & travel down to the Azteca in Mexico City on March 26th).
If it’s possible to grab between three and six points before the marathon in June, then we could see the USA back on track and calming everyone down for the rest of this qualifying round for Brazil. Even though the 4th place finish against the Oceanian Qualifying winner is not the most daunting opponent, the main objective is not to be required to play two extra qualifiers in November.