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CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers

Random Thoughts on the US Win


Some random thoughts on the US win and the upcoming game against Costa Rica

The Greatest US Win I Have Never Seen.   

A lot has already been said about how absurd it was that this game was not broadcast to the average US fan, so there is no reason to continue to beat this dead horse.  Beyond the television rights, Grant Wahl’s twitter on the game failed to tweet, the twitter was intermittent at best and their Match Tracker did not work at all (at least for me), so switching between the New York Times Goal! update and Ives Galarcep’s running update was the best I could do.  It was easier to get information about North Korea’s political divisions than it was to figure out what was going on in the game.

Last night’s win was as impressive as the win against Spain in South Africa

There are a lot of ways to hedge the win against Spain – it was in a neutral stadium, the Spanish took us for granted, it was as much a holiday as a tournament for Spain, etc.  There are no qualifications needed for what happened last night.  The stadium was absolutely rockin (check out Ives’ Youtube from three hours before the game began  Honduras had absolutely everything to play for.  We went a goal down at the same time that we knew Costa Rica was ahead and going to get three points.  Nevertheless, the US stepped up and won the game.  And yes, it was lucky that Pavon put the PK over the bar, but no less unlucky than that Holden had a completely fluky handball to set up the PK. 

Is Connor Casey the next Jozy Altidore or the next Eddie Johnson? 

Many fans, including myself, were flummoxed to see Connor Casey in the starting lineup in place of Jozy Altidore or Brian Ching.  I guess that is one of several thousand reasons why Bob Bradley is the coach and I am not.  Nevertheless, one game does make a regular US National.  Remember Steve Ralston’s goal against Mexico last qualifying round?   Remember the great run that Johnson had in qualifications for 2006?  Neither do I.  I would suspect that Casey has gotten himself a ticket to South Africa, but I am not convinced he has a place in our starting XI.  I hope that Jozy plays Wednesday against Costa Rica because he should be playing like a man with something to prove.  In fact…

The entire team has something to prove against Costa Rica

Our worst loss this year was not the Gold Cup final, which came with a boatload of “what ifs.”  It was the 3-1 loss against Costa Rica at Saprissa in June.  The 3-1 score line flattered the US as Costa Rica dominated the game from the beginning to the end.  The US was not just out-played but also out-competed.  Additionally, if we beat Costa Rica, we will have won the Concacaf hex, and….

Winning the Concacaf hex is far more impressive than any hex win in the European qualifying

For all the talk about the minnows in Concacaf, the truth is winning the Concacaf hex is far more difficult than anything Spain, Italy, England or Germany or any other European team had to do to qualify for South Africa.  None of those teams had a road game that compares with going to Azteca, Saprissa or last night’s games at San Pedro Sula.  There are no Montenegros, Faroe Islands, Andorras or Liechtensteins in the Concacaf hex.  In fact, the worst team in our hex, Trinidad and Tobago, is probably better than the worst 10 teams in the European qualification.  Reigning champion Italy has qualified with six wins in its nine games (just like the US), but Italy has had to play Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Montenegro and Georgia.  Did you know that Cyprus had 1,100 people show up for one of their WCQ games?  All those Euro football snobs can go stick it.  If the US wins the Concacaf, it will be a fantastic achievement.

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  1. AG

    October 14, 2009 at 2:28 am

    I don’t want to interrupt the madness, but I did want to take a second to say how frustrated I am with long, analytical articles about the USMNT that make reference to “Connor” Casey (not once, but twice). Seriously? The repetition of this error is evidence that this isn’t a typo; I’m not a grammar Nazi. This is a fundamental lack of knowledge regarding the names of our players from well-established media sources. Yikes.

    • Fan

      October 15, 2009 at 2:38 pm

      THANK YOU! Nitpicking the spelling of words is one thing, but to overlook the fact that this “analyst” couldn’t even spell the name of a guy who scored two goals is impossible. Then again, I guess I’m dumb enough for expecting anything other than junior-high level work from this site.

      Then you add the sad little North Korea joke in the first item. I watched the game fine, It took a few feeds before I found the most reliable one, but I had no problem following this match both through streaming and the Twitter/Facebook feeds of multiple people.

  2. Charles

    October 13, 2009 at 6:32 am

    I don’t believe the article talked about how hard it was to qualify from CONCACAF, but how hard it was to WIN it.
    IF US does win it, they deserve to be considered for a seeding spot.

    I love how the Europe lovers like to say that CONCACAF hasn’t done much in the WCup. That is true of course….but are they are going to use EVERY team in Europe then select only the ones that made it to the final 8 in any particular year to back their statements up ? How many more nations are we talking here ?

  3. park bolivar

    October 13, 2009 at 12:47 am

    So, for most of the quals and for the Gold Cup, I usually trekked on down to the local Mexibar/Cantina with my posse of Honduran, Bulgarian, and Scottish friends (how my peer group became the UN, I’ll never know). We were usually the only USA fans in there, but our hosts were always gracious, and after our debilitating loss at Azteca (the Landycakes: Swine Flu edition), the owner came out and asked me:

    “Are you sorry for coming out? Your team, they played well. ”

    And right then and there, I realized something (I think the president refers to these as “teachable moments”), and responded:

    “Nope, not sorry at all. For the USA to get better, we need Mexico, and all of the rest of CONCACAF to get better and play as aggressively as they can. This is good experience for all of us”

    I’m reminded of how Auburn fans chant “S-E-C, S-E-C” when facing out-of-conference rivals, despite the fact that Auburn isn’t the NCAA Football power it once was.

    I’d like to imagine that CONCACAF has room for a lot of improvement, across the board, and, from here on out, all personal, national, linguistic, and ethnic biases aside: I’m pulling for every single got-damned CONCACAF squad in this cup. And I hope like all hell the Ticos or Catrachos wipe the smug smile off the faces of one of the Rio Platenese teams.

    Once CONCACAF is a power, then, and only then, will we stop having this f**king conversation.

  4. sam

    October 12, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Whoever said theyd rather play in croatia than the azteca are mad, croatias loss to england was the first loss ever in that stadium, which includes playing better teams than mexico do, o and after manu played besiktas in istabul sir alex said that was one of the toghest places hes ever played so dont say turkey is soft the hex is tougher to qualify in because the teams are so close, bu the quality in europe is better in Most groups,

  5. Rex

    October 12, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I think the point is that CONCACAF is as tough as any to qualify. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the teams are better, just that the process is difficult. The travel, the hostile environments, political instability, and lets not forget about CONCACAF officiating!
    In Europe, they ban fans for throwing bananas and racist insults on the field; in CONCACAF, many teams would be happy if they got out certain qualifiers after only been assaulted by words!
    How about USA’s ‘home’ field advantage. Do you think Wembley was half full of Ukrainians when ENG played their HOME qualifier?

  6. John

    October 12, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    In this cycle we’d win COMNEBOL or at least finish second behind Brazil. Does anyone actually believe Paraguay or Chile is better than us? Do they have a Howard, a Gooch or a Donovan? Do they have anyone world class?

  7. Joey Clams

    October 12, 2009 at 10:26 am

    The US could consistently qualify from Conmebol.

  8. Ivan

    October 12, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Wow, this is truly one of the most ignorant articles I’ve read in a very long time. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
    Concacaf is a joke. Plain and simple. A concacaf team has made the 1/4 final two (2) times since 1986: Mexico at home, 1986, US in 2002, when they beat another concacaf team to get there.
    In the mean time, Africa has gotten teams to the 1/4 finals(Cameroon’ 1990), Asia to the 1/2 finals(S. Korea, 2002), and, as for Europe and South America, we all know who dominates world football.
    Honduras, Costa Rica , and El Salvador are no-names. T&T’s greatest success was holding off the dominating Swedes in 2006 to a 0:0 draw thanks to the heroics of Shaka Hislop. Mexico has the talent pool, but not the mentality to compete w/ the best. And we all know where the US bravado of being ranked 5th in the world prior to the last World Cup led to…
    I wasn’t going to break down the European groups, but, for argument’s sake, here it is:
    Spain(euro champion), Bosnia(w/ players who single-handedly won the title for Wolfsburg last season), Turkey(euro semi-finalists, 3rd in the world in 2002), Belgium…
    Sweden(has made last 6 major tournaments), Portugal, Denmark…
    Serbia, France, Romania…
    England, Croatia, Ukraine…
    Yes, there are a couple of weaker groups(Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Czech Rep.), as well as the Germany,Russia group, and the Holland, Scotland, Norway group, but, to compare Europe w/ Concacaf and claim that concacaf is superior takes a dellusional person…
    Oh, and if US goes to play in conmebol, w/ the brutality of that qualifying campaign, and the altitude of Bolivia and Equador, US will qualify once every 6 world cups, if they are lucky…
    Only Oceania, w/ New Zealand, has worse quality than concacaf…
    Why do they let people write ludicruos things on this otherwise decent blog???

    • John

      October 12, 2009 at 4:47 pm

      Ivan, you are the joke Not one of those groups comes close to the Hex. Not one.

  9. Joey Clams

    October 12, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Did someone say that Ireland could easily pick up points at Azteca?

  10. nick

    October 12, 2009 at 1:53 am

    sounds like it was a great game. too bad it wasn’t on the TV so I couldn’t watch it.

  11. Tony

    October 12, 2009 at 1:16 am


    I respect your opinion but you seriously need to get a grip on World Football. Turkey and Ukraine are incredibly tough away games. The atmosphere in those places are electric and the fact is those teams both have a lot more talent than the CONCACAF teams.

    The Italy group is murderous. Ireland would win CONCACAF, Bulgaria would qualify from CONCACAF for sure, and Cyprus is a strong team as well.

    Do you think it is more difficult for CONCACAF teams to qualify than South American teams? Asian? African?

    The US would NOT QUALIFY from Africa for sure. Look at the groups and tell me the US is better than the group leaders with some objectivity.

    Honduras (sorry Kartik) hasn’t qualified for a World Cup since 1982 and if it wasn’t for you over hyping this team and its individual players, maybe some people on this site would have been more measured in their response to a game where the US was outplayed and were lucky to win against a team THAT HAS NOT QUALIFIED FOR THE WORLD CUP IN ALMOST 30 YEARS FROM THE EASIEST REGION WITH AN AUTOMATIC SPOT.

  12. Eric Altshule

    October 12, 2009 at 12:30 am


    Sorry but you are being silly. Playing away to Turkey, Russia, Croatia or Ukraine is no easy task, but it all pales in comparison to playing Mexico (one of the eight seeded teams in the last World Cup)away at Azteca stadium with 105,000 screaming fans in the thin air of its 7200 foot altitude. Give me a trip to face Croatia (playing without Eduardo) any day.

    As for Montenegro, you are right. I know very little about them. I know that James Bond played poker there in Casino Royale. I know that they are a tiny, newly formed country. AND I KNOW IF THEY PLAYED IN CONCACAF THEY WOULD GET THROTTLED. If you can’t beat Cyprus, Bulgaria or Ireland, and your lone win in WCQ is a 2-1 squeaker against Georgia at home (you drew them away) you do not have a very good football team.

    This may come as a shock to you, but decent football is allowed to be played outside of Europe, Brazil and Argentina. Our worst team in the Concacaf hex (T&T) kept your mighty England to a draw in Germany in 2006. Concacaf has a lot of minnows, just like Europe does. The difference is that we have gotten rid of our minnows by the time we are playing in our final hex, and yours are still there to act as punching bags for the heavyweight players.

    • Tim

      October 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm

      Why are you belittling Ireland so much? They are obvious quality at the moment

  13. bo

    October 11, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Have you ever visited The entire match was streamed there, and in general, this is a good place for soccer feeds if you’re in a pinch. Great site, by the way.

  14. todd

    October 11, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    LOL WUT.

  15. Kyle

    October 11, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Interesting theory about CONCACAF but you’d think that experience would translate more in the actual world cup then. But I guess location and “homefield advantage” has no bearing on world cup matches apart from the host nation.

    I just hope the US makes it out of the group stages this year. That’s all I want. They have the potential to make a decent run. We’ve seen glimpses of it.

  16. Laurel

    October 11, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Another Dumb article!

    Germany had to play Russia in Moscow tougher than going to Azteca. Spain played in Turkey and Bosnia. England played away in Croatia and the Ukraine.

    The facts are that not one team in your concacaf has players the talent that montenegro has, do you have a Stevan Jovetic hell no, Do you have a Mirko Vucinic hell no. It’s a joke you belittle Montenegro without even knowing jack… typical yank

    So what if cyprus got 1,500 against Georgia, they have less than 1 million people and it was Georgia.

    You add in the factor of a European season, unlike most of your benchwarmers and the fact that other than the bottom feeders most groups include decent sides. Winning all your games doesn’t mean your group was weak, it means you performed.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 12, 2009 at 12:11 am

      Some Euro groups are a total joke- like the one England was in. The US would have every shot of winning that group.

      But others like the Slovakia group or the Denmark group would be tough for any CONCACAF team outside of maybe Mexico to qualify from. The US would struggle mightily in the Denmark/Portugal/Sweden/Hungary group to even finish 2nd.

      Really, in UEFA the groups are simply a crapshoot.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 12, 2009 at 1:07 am

      Turkey is among the most difficult places to play an away match in the world. Perhaps, the toughest. No argument there. Also Montenegro is a coming nation, no doubt.

      • John

        October 12, 2009 at 4:46 pm

        Kartik, you are becoming a bigger joke everyday. What has Turkey ever accomplished? Is going to Turkey even remotely comparable to Azteca or Saprissa?

  17. afrim

    October 11, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    if we beat C.R. 12-0 on weds we still wont be a seed in the WC. so get that out of your heads.

    there are no san marino’s , faroe islands, or malta’s in the concacaf hex i’ll give u that, but qualification out of europe still isnt an easy task when you factor in the playoff.

    IMO if the US was in europe we’d probably be #2 in the various european groups…maybe even #3 if we were to replace lets say moldova with the USA in portugals group.

  18. Michael

    October 11, 2009 at 6:33 pm


    Is he that unfamiliar that you can’t spell his name right? Not that you’re alone, but seeing as he’ll probably be starting more often, it’s a good time to practice it now…

  19. GoQuakes

    October 11, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I agree with everything except your comments about the game at Costa Rica. Losing to them badly on the road was not surprising at all. Games in Saprissa are not soccer. That turf is horrible and Costa Rica should be banned from hosting games there until they get grass. We lost there in 2002 qualifying as well.

  20. Jason

    October 11, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    This article is right on queue I think as well. I cant see teams like Slovakia, Ireland, and Ukraine easily getting 3 points playing on the road in Mexico and Central America.

    The key for the USA is to play with pasison. Do that and look what happens. We went to the Confederations Final (should of won if we did not give away the goal in the first minute in the 2nd half). I hope our guys are watering from the mouth at the prospects of winning the group now. They have qualified and now its time for some extra credit. Winning the group could give the USA a shot a seeding for the World Cup draw. Bob Bradly HAS to know this, if not I hope the media will let him know.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 12, 2009 at 12:07 am

      With Trapattoni managing Ireland they can get a point anywhere against anyone, anytime. Don’t delude yourself on what a difference a top manager, perhaps the best of our generation makes.

  21. eplnfl

    October 11, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    On target comments Eric.

    The final Concacaf group is much tougher than anything out of the UEFA zone. All you have to do if your a major team is get by one tough road game. In Concacaf every road game is a struggle at best and impossible at worst. Does the third place team in any UEFA group have the talent of a Honduras or Costa Rica. No! Not to mention that many of players in Concacaf have to travel from the European teams several time zones away and come back in most instances to a different climate and be expected to play in front of a hostile audience.

    As to Casey. Well think about this in addition to your comments we heard how MLS is failing to provide players to the USMNT. Well I think Casey and Donovan the stars of the game last night come from MLS clubs? So those who say MLS is worthless for providing players to the pool, please think again. Oh, the man of the match for Mexico, the man that sparked their winning streak comes from what league? Yes, MLS again.

    I think that coverage of the USMNT will be prominent from here on in even in the mainstream sports media.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      October 12, 2009 at 12:28 am

      Let’s look at the third place teams currently in UEFA

      Sweden- better than Honduras or Costa Rica. Not even close
      Israel- better than Costa Rica- same as Honduras
      Czech Republic- not even close much better than both- may win the Hex
      Finland- Better than Ticos, worse than Honduras
      Turkey- Turkey could win the CONCACAF Hex
      Croatia- Honduras is better than Croatia, Costa Rica is not
      Austria- Competitive with both Honduras Costa Rica
      Bulgaria- Better than Costa Rica competitive with Honduras
      Scotland- Both CONCACAF teams are better

      Fourth place UEFA Teams

      Hungary- better than both
      Latvia- better Costa Rica worse than Honduras
      Northern Ireland- better than both
      Wales- Better than Ticos, competitive with Honduras
      Belgium- better than both, but may struggle because of managment issues- will be solved by Advocaat
      Belarus- competitive with Ticos, not with Honduras
      Lithuania- getting there, but not as good as either right now
      Cyprus- better than Ticos, competitive with Honduras
      Macedonia- CONCACAF teams are better

      • Joe

        October 12, 2009 at 1:02 am

        Of all the teams you list, not one is better than the US. Not one. Also, how many players on any of those teams could play for the US? Turkey? Austria? Israel? You are on crack buddy. But it’s typical negative crap from you.

        I think if anything, we’ve proven we can contend or perhaps even win the World Cup based on the Spain result and the other night. What have those teams listed ever done?

        • Patrick Johnson

          October 12, 2009 at 3:26 pm

          Joe, thanks for proving how much of an idiot you are. The US will not make it out of the group stages at the World Cup. If you seriously think you do, please let me know what drugs you’re on so I can start feeling that high.

          • John

            October 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm

            Not one of the teams listed by Kartik would come close to qualifying from CONCACAF. And does anyone really believe Slovakia or Slovenia, both of whom are close to qualifying from Europe would finish anywhere but last in the hex. Heck, actually they wouldn’t even get to this stage of qualifying. Bosnia too. Neven Subotic is their big start, their only recognizable player and he wasn’t good enough to play for us.

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