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Honduras 2:3 USA- Casey Brace Leads USA to World Cup

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.


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  1. ryan

    October 12, 2009 at 7:09 am

    this game almost gave me a heart attack. donovan’s goal was brilliance, and good to see casey finally have a good night out there…i am still a believer on holding my tongue on how good our team is after a win (i hate it when supporters lose their jock straps when we win, thinking we will dominate world football), and i think this game had some points to prove it. we need to mature IMMENSELY before SA, our midfield and defense seem to lose their composure at the end of games with leads, we play too much of a prevent defense, and our midfield just turns it over again and again, nerve racking.

  2. Sunday Sides

    October 11, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Is there anywhere I can watch a replay online of this match?

  3. John

    October 11, 2009 at 11:29 am

    The funny thing is Krishnaiyer’s line about the ref being biased against the US and favoring the latin teams hasn’t been questioned by any of the 25 above commenters. That is a flat out incorrect and racist statement.

    Moreover, if the ref was truly biased he would have called a foul for Casey on the goalie on the first us goal.

    by the way, gooch was terrible and so was Holden. If Krishnaiyer really believes this team can beat anyone, he is not as sharp as I thought.

    Bradley doesnt know how to coach this team to play good soccer. They do whatever they need to get through, but still concede possession too easily and don’t have any style.

    Honduras was wasteful, period.

    • The Ghost of Josimar

      October 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm


      You may disagree with Kartik’s assessment of the referee. Fine. But there’s no evidence that Kartik’s view is borne out of racism.

      It’s best not to throw that sort of indictment around unless there are grounds for it.

      As for Bob Bradley — I agree. The team does not play “good soccer.”

      When I see our guys play the mental and tactical break-downs astound me. I do not see a unit playing with the cohesiveness and the smarts a top class manager imparts to his team.

      Conor Casey? Ugly but hugely effective last night.

      Did Bob Bradley make a brilliant selection? Or is a broken clock right twice a day?

      • Tim

        October 11, 2009 at 12:18 pm

        You do realize that you don’t get rewarding for playing “good soccer” just as arsenal and just ask euro 2004 winners Greece. Your biased is easily exposed when you try and make a case for bring in a “top class” (what does this vague statement even mean?) manager after the team wins on the road against a team that beat every other team at home.

        • The Ghost of Josimar

          October 11, 2009 at 7:42 pm

          Ah Tim,

          Your post is as charming as it is incisive.

          Teams do not get rewarded for playing good soccer? Certainly they do. Not only that, we all know that “good” is not always synonymous with “pretty.” On this point, see my observation that Velvet Toes Casey played an ugly but hugely effective role for us last night.

          As for Bob Bradley not being “top class” — fair enough, the point could be pinned down better.

          Bradley seems like a good man. That said, would any other highly competitive national federation hire him? Have we performed well in qualifying? Is the team well organized? Did it make sense for Sasha Kljestan to get the minutes he got this summer? Why did it take injuries to preferred players for Charlies Davies and Jonathan Spector get serious time?

          Some people are quite satisfied with the squad selection and our performances under Bradley. I’m not wild about Bradley’s qualities as a manager. He is serviceable; he is our manager; but he is not outstanding. Maybe you disagree.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 11, 2009 at 12:13 pm

      Go look at Mr. Moreno’s history. It is one of consistent bias against English speaking countries (not just the US, but Canada, Jamaica and T&T also) and buying of diving and the type of unsporting behavior you see more often from footballers in Central America than American or Caribbean players.

      Our players have a work ethic and tend not to dive. The Mexican players dive all the time. Moreno buys those dives, and doesn’t reward our guys for the work ethic they demonstrate.

      However, if Jozy Altidore integrates into the US squad, he could be our first classic diver. He has all the tricks down already: impressive for a 19 year old.

      Back to Moreno. I will applaud him for not calling that foul on Casey. That could have been called, I agree but fair play to him for not calling it.

      But Moreno’s body of work and his actions yesterday except for the non call on Casey showed the same biases and tendencies he has had for years.

      • HSNCalSJ

        October 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm

        Regardless his history, after watching the entire game by feed yesterday, I believe the referee was completely fair in this game. I did not see any biases. He made several correct non-calls late in the game when Honduras was playing to get free kicks. If either team had any claim to a belief that the ref was unfair, it would have been Honduras.
        But I’m not a referee basher, I’m biased because how hard the job is. The center ref has the hardest job of anyone on the field, and the hardest officiating job in any major sport (thanks to FIFA). I’d like to see an NFL, NHL, MLB, or even NBA game called with a single official on the field/court/rink. The results would be hysterical.

    • Rex

      October 12, 2009 at 1:11 pm

      I did not get to watch the game? Was Holden really terrible?

  4. Kevin_Amold

    October 11, 2009 at 11:06 am

    One more thing. Someone who watched the match tell me, did Holden hold up his end of the field? He provided some great service to Charlie Davies early, but it looked like he was the one who committed the handball in the box. Was he up to snuff?

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 11, 2009 at 12:14 pm

      Holden looks raw and unfinished at this level playing 90 minutes. Great cross to Davies, but I would say he is nowhere near the level of player I would personally select for a World Cup. He can come off the bench and is versatile, but I would not consider him for the starting XI.

  5. eplnfl

    October 11, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I for one think we should go all out vs. Costa Rica. let’s win the group. That will be great posting. Can we now have a response to the post T&T podcast. Can’t win the group can we?

    • Kevin_Amold

      October 11, 2009 at 11:05 am

      Not sure how the card system works. If anyone in card trouble picks one up, will it carry over until the next international match? Or does the slate get wiped clean once qualifying is over?

      I’d guess the slate gets wiped clean. If that is the case, I agree that going for the #1 spot in the group is worth it. Better yet, we don’t have to try to get a hurting Clint into the lineup.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm

      Winning the group means nothing in the larger scheme of things although the US has clinched the hex title for all intents and purposes with the win yesterday. In fact the US could win the Hex by 4 points if T&T gets the same gift from Mexico they did to close out the last Hex. How can we not forget that? Guatemalans are still whining about that, as they should be…………..

      But winning the group does not denote you are a better team. Serbia was undefeated in WC 2006 qualifying and were one of the worst teams in the entire tournament. Italy reached the final in 1994 after having to go through a playoff. We won the Hex last time but finished with one point, while Mexico made the second round. We finished 3rd in the Hex in 2001 and yet were a bad call away from the semifinals.

      In other words, winning the group means zero- it is far from an accurate predictor of World Cup success.

      • eplnfl

        October 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm

        Two things Kartik:

        You make a great point that the defense looks and plays better when Jay Demerit is on the field.

        You are right that winning the group is meaningless. The A team guys most likely want to get back to their clubs as soon as possible. Yet, from a selfish point of view the doom and gloom element will have nothing to complain about if we do win it. If we do not, then promise me Kartik that you will allow no one on the podcast to complain that we failed to win the group as a sign of Bradley’s poor coaching.

        Maybe you can enlighten us on this but do we have any scheduled warm-ups as fixtures? The team will not be together again for how long? The USA has a recent history of playing better as they are together longer. This worries me for the WC. With many players coming from Europe we will have little time between the end of the European season and the start of the WC.

  6. Ryan

    October 11, 2009 at 10:43 am

    That was an awesome moment last night. So fantastic. I still can’t stop talking about this game the morning after.
    I’m still shocked Casey’s first goal stood up, I thought for sure it was going to be waved off, what with the referee and the keeper usually getting the benefit of the doubt in those situations.

  7. LI Matt

    October 11, 2009 at 10:31 am


    USA 19 pts
    Mexico 18 pts
    Costa Rica 15 pts
    Honduras 13 pts

    Those are your four qualifiers. The only things left to settle are who finishes first, which is nice for bragging rights but has little practical significance … and who finishes third, which is massive.

    If Honduras doesn’t win in Cuscutlan, they’re fourth. If they do win, and Costa Rica doesn’t win in RFK, then Honduras is third. Honduras has the tiebreaker edge over Costa Rica, both in overall goal difference (+5 to zero) and head-to-head (4-2 aggregate).

  8. sal

    October 11, 2009 at 10:21 am

    A question for Kartik: how about an analysis of how the team looked without Demsey in the lineup; was he missed?

    I think anybody can answer that question. NO he was not missed, Hopefully sitting out the game wathching the way Holden played will light a fire under his ass.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 11, 2009 at 12:17 pm

      Then again, against better opponents, ie, teams that actually reach the world cup or euros regularly, would you rather have Holden or Dempsey. In CONCACAF, it is one thing. But movement off the ball and timing is so critical against better opponents who keep their shape and possession well (Honduras I have noted previously is not a latin styled team- they are built more athletically like an African team or the US even). I still think Dempsey is the one real high level player in the US setup that has a tactical sense in big games. Actually, him and Spector would be the two top ones.

      • HSNCalSJ

        October 11, 2009 at 3:44 pm

        Not even close, against any opponent. Holden is absolutely the better choice, because Dempsey is one lazy-assed give-away after another. Talk about movement off the ball, there is none with Dempsey when playing midfield. And for wing play, and defensive play on the wing, Holden also is much better.
        As a midfielder, Dempsey’s only advantages over Holden are how he plays in the box, both offensively as a finisher and defensively clearing high balls.
        It’s another story when Dempsey moves to forward. He is then creative, and there absolutely isn’t a better finisher on the team.
        What I want to know is why we see two completely different Dempseys when he plays midfield with Fulham and when he plays midfield with the Nats? Maybe it’s the way that the US likes to bang balls from the backline over the midfield, which doesn’t allow him to play one-twos with midfielders (since the US plays without any attacking central mids)? I think this makes him sulk. He needs to grow up and be more professional when playing with the national team.

  9. ha ha ha ha

    October 11, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Can you have Jamie Trecker on the post game podcast to tell us about Focault and language signifiers again? I think US Soccer was right, that guy isn’t up to their standards.

    Not only are we going to qualify, we’re probably gonna win the Hex. So I’d just like to issue a premptive shut up. You too, Richard.

  10. Kevin_Amold

    October 11, 2009 at 2:27 am

    I’ve been the quick to label Conor Casey as a bust with the USMNT. Today’s match gives him credibility for a long, long time, in my mind at least.

    For the next while, I don’t even care how we got it done. What matters is that we got it done, we’re in the Cup finals. The boys really protected the shield today, making up for what they lacked in quality with effort. I’m really pleased and the next couple days are for celebrating. Then I’ll start worrying about next summer….

    • Kevin_Amold

      October 11, 2009 at 2:27 am

      *I’ve been quick* Late night spelling failure….

  11. Seybold

    October 11, 2009 at 2:18 am

    First of all, bravo for a gutsy performance. They got a win away to Honduras, something non one else has even come close to getting.

    @15–did *anyone* think it was a good idea to start Casey? I was appalled–when he played in the Confed Cup, we might as well have had 10 on the pitch he was so useless. Got to hand this one to Bradley, he got it right.

    And good grief–will someone please finish one of Holden’s inch-perfect crosses? Just once? Pretty please? Every match he puts in at least one, perfectly curled over the near-post defender.

    A question for Kartik: how about an analysis of how the team looked without Demsey in the lineup; was he missed? I’d say not in this match at least. That said I’d like to see Bradley try a 4-4-1-1 with Dempsey in the hole, where his talents will be better utilized, and his giveaways would only be in the final third. It would at least give the side another look, and with Holden a more natural right-sided player they might be better balanced, even if man-for-man perhaps not quite as talented.

    • Tim

      October 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm

      Problem with that line-up is that either casey or ching would have to start and both altidore and davies would have to be on the bench because holding the ball is definately not their strength.

  12. where to start

    October 11, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Kartik on Conor Casey: “He’s done nothing, get him out of there.”

  13. Tommy T

    October 11, 2009 at 1:24 am

    God, if only you would shut up.

  14. kyle

    October 11, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Not to be all doom and gloom it was a great result after all. But please no Bocanegra in the starting 11 anymore. He is just not good enough to play at the inernational level.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 11, 2009 at 1:42 am

      Agreed- Hopefully when DeMerit returns from his eye trouble he can reclaim his spot.

  15. Chris Webb

    October 11, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Kartik, give me a call tomorrow at home. You should have my number.

  16. 7hillstalk

    October 11, 2009 at 12:45 am

    “Conor Casey’s was the man of the match”
    The MOM has to be Donovan, it was a great pass from him to Casey and a great free kick. We showed lots of heart out there in a hostile environment. Still scared about our mids and i’m worried about Bocanegra.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 11, 2009 at 12:52 am

      Actually I thought about Landon as MOM also- great setup for the 2nd goal and obviously the wonder FK. Also, he settled the team down in the first half when things were going very badly.

      • eplnfl

        October 11, 2009 at 1:06 am

        Have to think Donovan was our strength tonight. He was the glue for the US, a true World class player and proved it tonight.

  17. Chris Webb

    October 11, 2009 at 12:39 am

    There is no denying that this US team has holes. They have given up goals at an unprecedented rate (at least since they’ve been a regular player in WC qualifying) and still at times lack some real composure on the ball. However, I wonder how many people realize that in Bruce Arena’s entire tenure as the US coach, his teams only came back from a goal down once to win a game.

    Do you realize that Bradley has done it in 3 of his last 4 WC qualifying matches? That has to say something about the character of this team and their ability to get back into matches. Of course, we would all prefer not to go behind in any match, but the ability to come back is huge and should not be overlooked.

  18. Bolacuadrada

    October 11, 2009 at 12:35 am

    The USA deserves the win and Honduras deserves to be disqualified. How could the Honduras coach give the penalty kick in the last part of the game to a player who is known for missing penalty kicks? Since I was supporting the Honduran side this time, I was so disappointed when I saw Pavon get ready to kick that one. I was sure he would miss it. Honduras will not beat El Salvador and will not beat Uruguay in the playoff for sure. No surprises again. The USA will be first, Mexico second, and Costa Rica third. Just like it was expected. Go USA, you are the best of CONCACAF.

  19. The Ghost of Josimar

    October 11, 2009 at 12:33 am

    We played with pluck and courage. Conor “Velvet Toes” Casey had a good game.

    But we were exceedingly lucky. A missed penalty. And while Feilhaber and Davies blew routine chances, the Hondurans finishing was just as poor.

    I am celebrating.

    I was chanting with the rest of the supporters at the bar this evening.

    But I still am far from impressed by Bob Bradley.

    As for the team? The defensive lapses were galling. We were *very* vulnerable. And really, at the end, we should have moved to slow the game down a touch earlier.

    When I watch this team, I do not see a unit playing with great cohesiveness or reflecting the guidance of a first class football intellect.

    But tonight…another drink…

  20. eplnfl

    October 11, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Thank you Kartik. Tonight we should just say well done to Bradley and company. 3 points on the road against Honduras, enough said. We book our trip to SA. YES WE CAN!

  21. Julius

    October 11, 2009 at 12:22 am

    But for a missed penalty this game is a draw. Is that really showing “…the world how good this team can be.”? Great result and even better given that the home team probably had quite a bit on emotion on their side but showing the world how good the team can be means finishing all the chances Webb says they missed and not hoping for someone to miss a penalty.

  22. WOW Cool

    October 11, 2009 at 12:21 am

    WOW Cool Stuff Today!

  23. Chris Webb

    October 11, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Quite nervy stuff at the end, including the missed penalty. However, you have to give Bradley and this team credit. They didn’t pack it in and decide to push all-in for Wednesday’s match. They saw an opportunity to counter attack this team and they did it with applomb. In fact, had they had their finishing boots on, they could have scored 3 or 4 more with Feilhaber missing a chance to bury the match in stoppage time.

    Kudos and let’s just see Trecker tear this one apart.

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