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USA 2-1 Honduras: Still Shaky, But Back on Track


Bob Bradley shook up the US squad and formation today in preparation for a critical qualifier in Chicago against Honduras. The Hondurans were missing two key elements: David Suazo one of the top players in CONCACAF and the solid Julio De Leon of Parma in Italy.

Bradley’s changes reflected the caution of a manager under heavy fire who did not want to make a mistake. Bradley’s caution however was thrown to the win in minute five when Carlo Costly continued his outstanding CONCACAF qualifying run with a superb goal after a bad giveaway by Clint Dempsey.

The US continued to be tested by good possession play from Honduras. But around minute twenty the US took control. Conor Casey missed a golden chance and Rico Clark was taken down in the box on a run from his holding midfield position but no penalty call was made. Just before halftime the US lucked out as a clear but inadvertent handball in the area led to a Landon Donovan PK goal.

Honduras had kept their shape fairly well at the back and may have slightly outplayed the US in the first half. But The US had withstood the storm and the lack of Honduran depth seemed to be catching up by the end of the half.

Bob Bradley made the decision not to include Jose Francisco Torres, the arguably best player for the US against Costa Rica in the match squad was controversial. Torres a left footer could have provided a second half attacking spark. But Benny Feilhaber, one of the few Americans with a good first touch and an outstanding imagination in midfield was on the subs bench and he made all the difference.

Carlos Bocanegra’s goal on a set piece was well done, but US was wasteful in the attack, and Honduras still created far too many chances for comfort. The US played a high tempo game and the defenders provided adequate service to the midfielders. But the linkup play from the midfield to the attackers was still lacking.

The most important positive for the United States was the fighting spirit which returned in tonight’s match. Players were pressing and playing with a lot of enthusiasm. But the team still allowed too many chances and gave away too much possession in midfield to get by away from home. While it can be argued that much of tonight’s crowd was pro Honduran, the US was still at home, going through familiar surroundings before the match. This is the point I make consistently about US-Mexico matches on US soil- while the crowds tend to be pro Mexican, the surroundings and psychology before kickoff is decidedly American. Thus to claim the US is the “road” team ever at home is silly. More is involved in playing away from home than simply crowd noise.

Mission accomplished for the US especially given Mexico’s shock loss in San Salvador tonight. With Costa Rica’s win in Trinidad, the Ticos lead the Hex with 12 points from five matches. The US is on track to qualify, but work still has to be done to get the United States to play the possession oriented free flowing football.

Props to USSF President Sunil Gulati for escaping Soccer House to address the American Outlaws as they marched to Solider Field. I was called by an Outlaw marcher right after the event and the energy from Gulati’s speech to the supporters group carried throughout the match.



Made a few key saves


Positioned well, and linked up nicely with Clint Dempsey


As always dangerous on attacking set pieces, but sometimes lacks composure at the back


Lost on the Honduran goal but played almost heroically after that


Man of the Match. Showed great understanding with Donovan, and effectively marked Ramon Nunez and Carlos Pavon out of the match in the second half.


Slow start but made some decent tackles later in the first half.


A decent run out. Still not the caliber of player the US can afford to play on the road in qualifying.


Better effort tonight, but lacking finishing touch and clearly not playing in his strongest position.


Great effort, but poor service into the area, and dis-possessed too easily at times


Good target player with decent technical skills. Played well after two years of me begging for a call up. Now let’s see if Bob Bradley names Kenny Cooper to the Confederations Cup squad tomorrow. (We can always hope, can’t we?)


Out of form with a poor first touch. But great effort, tactical sense and understanding of his team mates. Will be incredible when he regains his form.


Benny Feilhaber could be the player (as could Freddy Adu) that takes the US from struggling in CONCACAF to a legitimate threat to get out of the group in a World Cup. He has all the skills needed to be an amazing two way midfielder ala Steven Gerrard. But he needs to get his head on staraight and stay in shape and on the pitch. Today’s second half was a great start.


Poor initial performance afetr coming in for the injured Carlos Bacanegra. Recovered late with some nice work.


That Beasley would be dressed but Freddy Adu and Jose Torres were not shows Bradley’s mentality in this sort of game. Safety first. Rangers fans must be laughing at the USMNT for capping such a useless player routinely.

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  1. Ferd

    June 10, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    I’m Latin- born in Ecuador to Ecuadorian parents and I support the USA first and Ecuador second. I’m far from alone. The USMNT has more latin fans than some here may think.

  2. vic

    June 10, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Footbal tactician,
    you’re idea that the US team is the team of whitey just doesnt square with whats on the field. The majority of the US teams isnt even white. As for the country itself, I suppose you think what we have in the White House is also an Uncle Tom. Its a different country my friend. If you knew your Amer. history you’d know it really never fully “belonged” to them. It was only so by not identifying with blacks, who are the most American of groups. I’m from people who were on this side of the border and on that side- along the Rio Bravo..for centuries.
    Also, I seriously doubt that what you heard at Soldier field was anything as bad as what I’ve heard at the US/Mex games in LA in late 90s and early 2000 when the odds were probably 100 mexican supporters for every 1 American-clad supporter of caucasian extract. This led to some very political and condescending comments by Alexi Lalas I did not agree with, and have always hated him since. I suppose if he were the coach, I would look for an apology before getting back on board. I knew that the support of foreign teams by hispanics was probably related to mistreatment on a daily basis- low paying jobs, prejudice, etc. However, you’re idea that american born hispanic should not play for the US is ridiculous. What they see on the field when they are young and coming up through the ranks is a multicolored array of underdogs who usually have to deal with negative attitudes such as “soccer isnt an american sport”.

  3. Football tactician

    June 9, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    Vic: That’s really sad that you side with the USMNT. As eplfan said, most of their fans are white suburbanites. I’ve heard what many of them have said about Hispanics. Not pretty. You trying to join them makes you somewhat of a Hispanic Uncle Tom. They won’t say stuff to your face. But when you’re not around, they’ll let their true feelings out. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when you experience that.

  4. eplnfl

    June 9, 2009 at 7:41 pm


    I do not doubt what your saying. What the USSF needs to develop is that warm feeling from certain people to people in the seats supporting the US. I had expected Saturday night a lot of Mexican-American fans in the stadium for a great game between two teams they had some interest in. This was the first ever final qualification game in Chicago btw. As, you know the fans were Hondurian who came in from all over the US from what I can tell. I meet a group from NY City. And the USA fans above described by me.

    PS: I am trying to organize a supports group for USMNT/MLS/ anything else soccer related in the N. Ill. area and South Wisc. How does the STATE LINE SUPPORTERS GROUP sound. Looking for a seed group to help. If you know anyone interested let me know here on on Twitter(sensei208).

  5. Pat

    June 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm


    Anecdotal, obviously, but I met a bunch of groups of Honduran fans that were very respectful and supportive of the US as well. When they play Honduras, they will root for them, but seemed at least kind of into the US. Hopefully when their kids grow up, they’ll root for the US.

  6. eplnfl

    June 9, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    I would love for many of the ethnic groups that make up America to be Team USA supporters, sadly they remain loyal to their national teams from other countries. My experience in Chicago and reinforced once again this weekend is that the fan base for the USMNT is mainly White Suburban middle to upper middle class, college educated, or young people playing soccer at school or in club programs.

    I think it would be great if a good number of Chicago’s Mexican-American or Polish-American fans show up to support the USMNT. They do not. USSF needs some type of outreach program to give these great supporters of the game reason to come out and cheer for the USA.

  7. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 9, 2009 at 11:28 am

    vic, not sure to be honest. it’s something i picked up off of the free podsafe site. some surf music which i like!

    Johnny B and Torres can actually speak Spanish which Boca cannot believe it or not. So Torres, Johnny B and Landon who speaks great Spanish should be on the scoresheet.

    BTW, I do agree with you about the US crowds. They have become a little more diverse lately but still a long way off from gripping ethnic minorities to support the national team.

    Landon actually pissed on Jalisco’s grass and we then got thrashed 4-0, so I’d prefer not to remember that sorry effort. But for the most part the US has dominated Mexico for the past 10 years.

  8. vic

    June 9, 2009 at 1:40 am

    ps. good appearance on World Soccer Daily Kartik
    pss. you have the coolest Intro music to your own podcast…who is it?

  9. vic

    June 9, 2009 at 1:33 am

    football tactician
    is halfway ridiculous. On the tube, it did look like all the US fans were whites. I’ve gone to US matches in California over the years, and US fans here are very hispanic (probably half). Outsiders probably cant tell. They just saw a bunch of mexicans and thought it was a mostly pro-Mexican crowd, but I could tell which Mexican/Amer were pro US. Chicago hispanics may be newer then hispanics in Cali or Texas, so they are more attached to old country. I’m a dark hispanic and I hate the mexican national team- like Landon Donovan hate (I wish I had seen his now-famous pissing on Aztec stadium). When i was growing up, Mexico always won and they were arrogant about it- like not switching shirts when they finally did lose to US. I’m glad it was a hispanic player who scored on Honduras. I hope Torres, Bocanegra, or Bornstein (all of Mexican heritage) score at Azteca stadium in Aug…US 3- 0 Mex. Maybe throw in Orozco to further keep the team calm since a 100k at Azteca will probably be crazy.

  10. LI Matt

    June 8, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Any Englishman talks smack about the USNT, there’s only two words you need to say back to him:

    Joe Gaetjens.

  11. Rex

    June 8, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    How can you rate Clark and Pablo the same? In my mind Pablo is done playing for the US and I think Clark has to be on the roster. He is always in good position and is our best player at breaking up opposing attacks.

    I too was impressed by Feilhaber.

  12. Tee

    June 8, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Three Lions

    Your national team once had Paul Robinson in goal. Paul Robinson. Paul. Robinson. Regularly.

    Onyewu was on loan at Newcastle, and they didn’t make him a permanent signing. This is the same club that signed Xisco and Coloccini. Their personnel decisions are obviously a tad questionable, as they were relegated.

    With regards to Captain America, Landon Donovan didn’t cut it in the Bayern attack. There’s not much shame in that. They have Toni, Klose, Podolski, and Ribery. It’s safe to say Aaron Lennon, Stuart Downing and other England regulars wouldn’t crack that side either.

    Finally, having a Championship player in the squad isn’t as ignominious as you would like to believe. Norn Iron, Ireland and Scotland all have members of the second division in their sides, and all are still in contention to qualify for the World Cup. Once upon a time, under the reign of Steve McClaren, David Nugent (then of Sheffield Wednesday) made a substitute appearance for your very own source of national pride and scored. So even the Three Lions once in a blue moon use a Championship player in the side.

  13. GJ

    June 7, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Even though boca scored the game winning goal I would still have to give my Man of the Matchto Clark and BORNSTEIN.
    But over all good effort from the team. I wish they would shoot more when they are around the box.

  14. Lars

    June 7, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    As for that point about people not wearing kits for MLS teams, I see plenty and I live in Canada. And it’s not just TFC kits which are seen everywhere in Ontario. You can see people wearing Rapids kits in Vancouver, and LA kits in Saskatchewan (yes it’s a real place).

    Don’t say that interest in the game hasn’t bloomed.

  15. TomB

    June 7, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    “Three Lions, please can you explain for all of us here why you bother coming to a USMNT/MLS/USL oriented site if you hold us and our game in nothing but contempt.”

    As you may or may not have noticed, England is having a great qualifying run in their group for South Africa.

    Typical causal football fan, team gets hot, guy jumps on the bandwagon, and, of course, has to talk smack because he’s feeling awfully full of himself right now.

    He has to be a kid, because an older England fan would never call the vengance of the the gods of football down upon himself, given the unbelievable consistency of England to self-destruct in big games.

    And although I follow the EPL religiously, I’m just smart enough to know playing in it doesn’t mean that much when it comes to national teams. Look at how well Russia has done in the near past with almost all of their players having then come from their domestic league (obviously not true anymore). Turkey is another example.
    BTW I love your blog!

  16. TomB

    June 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    “Three Lions, please can you explain for all of us here why you bother coming to a USMNT/MLS/USL oriented site if you hold us and our game in nothing but contempt.”

    As you may or may not have noticed, England is having a great qualifying run in their group for South Africa.

    Typical causal football fan, team gets hot, guy jumps on the bandwagon, and, of course, has to talk smack because he’s feeling awfully full of himself right now.

    He has to be a kid, because an older England fan would never call the vengance of the the gods of football down upon himself, given the unbelievable consistency of England to self-destruct in big games.

    And although I follow the EPL religiously, I’m just smart enough to know playing in it doesn’t mean that much when it comes to national teams. Look at how well Russia has done in the near past with almost all of their players having then come from their domestic league (obviously not true anymore). Turkey is another example.

  17. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 7, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Three Lions, please can you explain for all of us here why you bother coming to a USMNT/MLS/USL oriented site if you hold us and our game in nothing but contempt. The fact that you watched the US game last night tells me you are at least somewhat curious and not as uninterested as you attempt to appear.

  18. TomB

    June 7, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    “to think a player like dempsey a relegation battle at fulham could be the star of your team is a laugh”

    Lion, are you screwing up another thread?!

    Fulham finished a strong seventh and qualified for Europe this year, with Dempsey playing an important role.

    They struggled with relegation LAST YEAR, Einstein.

    Really, if you cannot get a simple fact like that right, why should we trust anything you have to say?

    Oh, and given England’s mighty struggles in the past decade (you know, like not even qualifying for Euro 08!), I’d hold your tongue, no matter how well Capello has them playing now.

  19. Peter C

    June 7, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Angry USA Fan:
    I don’t think the effort was sub-par, however the performance is.

    I agree about Clark. I wasn’t a fan of his but he turned my head with last night’s showing. Might we have seen Pablo’s last WCQ match? Naw, I think he’ll go to the Azteca. But after that?

    I liked Feilhaber and wouldn’t mind seeing more of his pairing with Clark.

    Maybe it’s just me, but Casey felt dangerous. Shame he was off target, but he showed energy and seemed comfortable in the setting.

    Is Jozy’s poor first touch due to rust?

    Would like to see Freddy on right wing, cutting into the center on his left with Donovan coming in from the left, but then Adu never would have gotten the header in the box as Clint did on Boca’s goal.

  20. Les

    June 7, 2009 at 11:40 am

    I’m glad Kartik and the comments are rational. I was expecting a post about how great we were and comments saying oh look we dominate concacaf again. Thankfully all of you have learned not to listen to idiots like Harkes, Lalas and even JP who now is just an ESPN/USSF tool himself.

  21. Tony

    June 7, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I wasn’t thrilled with the performance but now we have the summer to fine tune things with the assumption that we will qualify. We will win our last two home games so we’ll have 16 pts putting us in a position to qualify automatically.

    Mexico will be desperate when we play them at Azteca. Likely they will come in with 6 pts. If they drop any points at home they may need to get something at Saprissa or Trinidad to avoid 4th place.

    Honduras and Mexico will be in a dogfight for 3rd I suspect. El Salvador is playing way above their heads, but who knows how they can fare on the road? They played Costa Rica tougher at Saprissa than we did or Honduras.

    I think your player ratings are pretty good other than Clark. He was lively, supplementing the attack and cleared a ball of the goal line. I’d rate him higher.

    The Confed Cup squad is out tomorrow. Looking forward to it for sure.

  22. The Three Lions

    June 7, 2009 at 11:20 am

    i watched the usa team last night and found it to be good comic relief on a saturday night. the american team lacks the pace, the tactical knowledge or the defending intensity to succeed at a high level. to think a player like dempsey a relegation battle at fulham could be the star of your team is a laugh. even funnier you have a second division player in demerit from watford in the side and a reject who could not cut it in the prem and struggle in ligue one in bocanegra as your stinking captain. i hear the announcers talk up landon donovan but he flopped at bayern. a club of bayern’s stature signing an american was quite a laugh but smartly der kaiser cut ties with him after two or three failed months. onyweu? he was a clown at newcastle!

    spector is the only player on the us who could feature for england, and that is as a reserve. no us player would feature for italy or spain.

    where is the mexican kid that is good from pachuca? he looked excellent in the prior us game i saw when you struggled to draw el salvador, laugh laugh. maybe he got smart and realized he was too good for your defensive and non tactical setup and went back home.

    football has grown in the states but it is because of the premier league. kids wear man u and liverpool kits, not usa or dc united tops. some where mexican kits or argentina kits or italy kits. no one one wear usa or mls. so basically if you want to grow the game and stop the ignorant american press from bashing the game keep the usa off tv and out of the world cup!

  23. Angry USA Fan

    June 7, 2009 at 11:13 am

    I should also add that if Bornstein is our best player we are in trouble.

  24. tom

    June 7, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Rico Clark a 5 – really? Saved a sure goal off the line, cleared another ball from inside the 6 that was behind Howard, arguably deserved a PK for being taken down inside the box and took care of the ball when in possession. What else do you want from a defensive mid?

  25. Angry USA Fan

    June 7, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Kartik, do you really think this team can hack it? The PK was a gift and as you said, the Hondurans were without two high quality midfielders who probably would exploited the space and huge gaps in defending for a second goal before that PK was called.

    Any analysis of this game must remain in the proper context. The effort was not good enough at a high level.

  26. Lars

    June 7, 2009 at 10:09 am

    At least the US isn’t Mexico. There’s going to be a civil war if they don’t qualify.

  27. Roger

    June 7, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I am just happy fof the win. The early goal freaked me out, but I was pleased to see the guys rally and play hard afterward. I saw much better attacking and organization than I did versus Costa Rica. The defense was much better. I agree about Johnny B., Spector impressed me, and I think Casey could be a great target man. I would like to see him get more minutes to judge for myself.

    Last, it looked like an impressive atmosphere, but I wish that we would not be outnumbered in fans when we play on our home turf. I totally feel fine with Americans being loyal to their country of origin, so no beefs there….its more that they will fill into the stadium while our fans overall do not…or we just dont have enough fans. I know, I know, an age old issue.

  28. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 7, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Lou, a fundamental difference between the Honduran fans and the Mexican ones is the Hondurans actually root for their team throughout the whole game. I’ve been at plenty of Mexico-USA games where the Mexican fans inflated by the unrealistic expectations in the media have eventually turned on their team and other Mexican fans. At times at a few of the games I’ve been at they’ll even starts jeering El Tri and cheering every US touch. Really as nasty as the Honduran fans are at least they are loyal. But it is true that the Mexican fans are more polite, and classier.

    I was at an El Salvador-Guatemala game once and if you want to see nasty, that’s about how nasty and out of hands things can be. A lot of pushing and shoving to get into the gate of the stadium and screaming and obscenities back and forth. I was cheering for El Salvador but did not let my feelings be known openly.

    The worst fans in the region are the Costa Rican fans hands down. It’s not even close. I’m dreading seeing the Ticos fans, spirited and feisty at the Gold Cup here in Miami next month.

    The Haitians, Trinis and Jamaicans are delightful fans. Been to games with all three against the US and Jamaica vs Haiti and Jamaica vs Honduras and they are awesome.

  29. George H

    June 7, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Clark had a much better match than you’re giving him credit for. While Pablo looked better in this match, he clearly was still a step too slow which put a lot more on Clark’s plate to deal with. And even then, Clark still got forward in that first half and drew what should have been a PK (except his fall made it look like a dive at first glance).

    I agree that Feilhaber had a terrific match, you can’t give midfielder an 8 that only played a half and didn’t score or have an assist. He gave

    Hard to believe that we’re playing Italy in 8 days.

  30. Football tactician

    June 7, 2009 at 4:36 am

    I feel bad for all those Honduran fans at Soldier Field. I was rootin’ for them the whole match. It’s too bad their team lost.

    What is Charlie Blackmouth’s heritage? He should be playing for the country of his heritage, not for the usa. usa fans, for the most part, are all non-Hispanic caucasians. They don’t give a damn about him, yet they will enjoy the work he does for them. I wish Hispanic-Americans would shun the usa team, even if it means getting no caps anywhere. Most usa fans will treat them differently because of their ethnicity.

    I’ve heard the racist comments usa fans have made towards Latin Americans. It’s a shame that not only will they racially insult Latin Americans, they will have one score amazing goals for them, en route to defeating another Latin American team.

    C’mon Carlos, quit team usa out of principle. You’ll gain millions of fans in the process.

  31. eplnfl

    June 7, 2009 at 12:40 am

    The early form of the US was a scare for sure. I can not understand why the USA can not start a game quickly. Bradley shaking up the line-up produced results. Clark and Casey were both solid. Tonight Jon Spector showed he maybe the one to hold down the right back spot in the future. I kept an eye out on him all the first half and he made no mistakes.

    Why Bob Bradley can’t get the team to start fast I do not know. However, tonight like on other nights he makes great half time adjustments. The US clearly dominated the 2nd half.

    I’ll write more tomorrow but let me say the Honduran fans were the worst behaved group of visiting fans I have seen in Chicago. My wife and I left due to beer coming down on us from the upper deck from a group of visiting fans. Security was fighting with a visiting fan as I walked out. I have seen Poland, Brazil, Mexico, T&T, Canada, and England all play in Chicago and the visiting fans tonight where the only one to cause any trouble. No, it was not a majority of the Honduran fans or a large minority but all too many visitor supporters were out of line once the game looked lost to them.

  32. Seybold

    June 7, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Feilhaber? Finally.

    No Beasley in the starting lineup? Finally.

    DeMerit playing in a game that matters? Finally.

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