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Carlos Pavon

US 1 Honduras 3 as Bob Bradley Looks to Fill Some Holes


As the US took the field to play Honduras Saturday night at the Home Depot Center, nobody was any under illusions about the nature of the game.  It was a friendly in the friendliest sense.  The pregame party in the parking lot was full of good cheer.  The Honduras fans, which outnumbered the US fans by 4 to 1, heartily applauded when Jonathan Bornstein, whose late strike against Costa Rica in October sent Honduras into the World Cup finals, was introduced.  The Ole’s and the wave rebounded around the stadium.

For the US players, though the outcome was unimportant, the performances were critical.  This was not so much a game as an audition.  With Charlie Davis all but ruled out this summer, Clint Dempsey and Oguchi Onyewu out of action until Easter, questions about who the right partner for Michael Bradley is in the middle, and a left back position that still seems up for grabs, this was a chance for a number of players to make a case for themselves.

Unfortunately, if this was an audition, after the 17thminute the lines they had memorized had to be trashed and it was improv theater for the rest of the evening.  Jimmy Conrad was caught out of position twice, hacked his opponent down twice, gave up a PK, was given two yellow cards and shown the shower before the game had even developed a rhythm.  Were the yellow cards harsh?  Perhaps a tad.  But the US picked up yellows and reds at an alarming rate in both the Confederations Cup and at the last World Cup in Germany,  If the US is going to succeed in South Africa, they are going to have to avoid giving international referees a reason to reach into their pockets.

With Conrad gone, Jonathan Bornstein was shifted to a more central position, Robbie Rodgers played a little more in the back, and any experimenting with width was pretty much over.  For the rest of the half, Robbie Findley and Jeff Cunningham were isolated up front, and when they did get a toe on the ball, it was in the midst of three defenders without a sight at goal.

At the other end of the field, Chad Marshall had a night to forget.  Beaten badly for the second goal and unable to get the challenge in time for the third, he was subbed out in the 60th minute.  He slumped onto the bench with his arms folded, banged the back of his head against the bench shield, and spent the next couple of minutes staring straight at the ground.  There are a lot of questions about the US central defense at the moment, and Marshall did not provide any evidence he has the answers.

On the other hand, when Clarence Goodson came on in the 60th minute, he looked very useful.  Beyond the goal he scored off a corner, he tracked back superbly and seemed to win every ball in the air.  Don’t be surprised to see Goodson get a good look when the US plays the Netherlands in March.

On the flip side, aside from Conrad, the most disappointing player this evening had to be Benny Feilhaber.  If he had a good touch all night, it escaped me.  He lost the ball, had his passes intercepted, and generally looked out of sorts all game.  In his post game news conference, Bradley highlighted how poor the team passing was in general, noting that even when passes were not intercepted, they were often received chest high and unplayable for quick advantage.

In the end, Bradley called is an “educational” evening.  Having Conrad sent off gave Bradley to opportunity to see some players perform under stress, out of position, and in uncomfortable situations.  It may have not been the screen test that Bradley was designing, but it still yielded some valuable insights.  On the positives, Bornstein looked comfortable switching from a wide position to a more central role, Goodson looked worthy of further investigation, Robbie Rogers looked industrious, and Alejandro Bedoya got his first Senior Cap. 

On the downside, there was just about everything else.

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  1. Footy Guru

    January 25, 2010 at 10:29 am

    It was not exactly Honduras A-squad either, keep in mind.

    The top Honduran players except Guevara are all in Europe.

  2. Jay

    January 25, 2010 at 4:38 am

    It’s just a friendly. We’ve already seen which of these two teams would win head to head when the chips are down.

  3. JS

    January 24, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    This is typical of any game where the US fields a virtually all MLS squad. Comical mistakes, comedic errors, poor shape, a lack of composure and simply not having the technical skill tells us all we need to know about MLS guys.

    Our MLSers have now lost to Mexico’s B team 5-0 and Honduras B team 3-1.

    This comes after our A team beat Honduras twice in qualifying and had a run of 10 years without losing to Mexico at home.

    Without our European based players, we cannot even compete with the “B” teams of our rivals. Every player except Espinonza on Honduras yesterday was based in their domestic league.

    The performance was pathetic.

    • Kevin_Amold

      January 24, 2010 at 6:43 pm

      Yeah, I’d agree except that our B team got us to the Gold Cup final. They weren’t total scrubs.

  4. gil

    January 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    i really don’t know why sasha still keeps on getting called up and on top of that getting playing time, he hasn’t done anything that we can say he is a must on the team. give someone else a chance move on. and don’t call him up until he learns how to make a few passes or even hold the ball for 3 seconds, with out losing it.

  5. WonsanUnited

    January 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I stopped watching this abortion of a match once Honduras went up 2-0. The play in midfield was atrocious, both strikers were isolated and just gave the Honduran defenders a really easy time, and the backline was just…

  6. usa

    January 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Marshall yuck. Got beat badly twice.

  7. Charles

    January 24, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Losing to Honduras 3-1 in front of 18,000 fans, with most of them Honduras fans, in a World Cup year.

    Do I need to say more ? Ok I will.

    Get the CBA signed please, US Soccer is struggling.
    And we thought the size of MLS crowds was pathetic, but it turns out relatively they are great ( sarcasm ).

  8. Porque

    January 24, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I hate when we play these central American teams cuz they always out number our fans, we turn out in numbers but they always some how come in bigger numbers. It’s our frigging house we have to defend it!!!!!!

  9. Kevin_Amold

    January 24, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Feilhaber is, to me, very enigmatic. I think he has been very underwhelming since The Goal that he scored against Mexico, for which I will always speak his name in a reverent tone. He occasionally shows flashes of something but fails to impress when he gets his big chances. We’re just more productive with him off the bench and Bradley starting. Sorry Bradley haters.

    Findley had a few nice touches in my opinion, but Cunningham was almost completely useless. They were both pretty isolated.

    I thought Wynne looked okay. He was lively up the flank, at least for the first half.

    Bornstein helped his cause. I’ve always liked this Goodson kid, who proved to be useful as the article said.

    Conrad ran around like a crazy man. He didn’t even have the decency to wait until the second half to get the inevitable Soft Red Card, also known as the USA special. Beckerman was out of sorts, looked as poor last night as he did good during the Gold Cup (although the ESPN live commentary said he was the best player for us in the first half, was I watching the same game?).

    All in all, quite disappointing. That game probably is what Bob’s nightmares are like, because that’s the team we might have if more of our people go down.

  10. eplnfl

    January 24, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Glad I missed the game. Bradley has never been afraid to take a defeat to gain experience for players. Why not is my feeling. You have to view last nights effort as a NFL pre-season game. Nothing matters much but the coach looking at the play of individual players. So lets just hope that one or two players showed enough on film to help the team out come June.

  11. MikeinTN

    January 24, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Our technical ability clearly lags behind the top teams in our region. But our hustle and spirit usually get us through. Cunningham, if he wanted to be on the World Cup squad, didn’t prove it last night. He didn’t seem to want to fight and go after any ball. I really worry about our strikers going forward. I hope Bradley will also give Brad Davis more chances in the future. He and Goodson looked really strong when they were inserted. As a Crew fan, I feel for Chad Marshall as well. He just didn’t have it last night.

    • Rex

      January 25, 2010 at 10:09 am

      Agreed. Davis hast he best left foot in America. Definitely a specialist. Dont know if he can go 90 min though.

  12. Brian Zygo

    January 24, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Bob Bradley paid for his decision not to suit up Geoff Cameron when Jimmy Conrad was ejected. Cameron is the kind of player Bradley could have slotted into the back line without having to do as much shifting around of the other players.

    Something that should be considered, in friendlies like this, FIFA needs to change the rules so that if a player is ejected, you don’t go down a man, you just get to use one of your many subs to fill the position left open. As we saw last night, after the first 17 minutes, this game ended up becoming useless.

  13. zhe fulano

    January 24, 2010 at 8:23 am

    Last night, Bedoya was the diamond in the rough Bradley is always looking for. He consistently positioned and paced himself better than any other U.S. player last night. Had he been out there with Donovan and Dempsey, it would have been a different game.

    By the way, this “B” team of ours did beat Honduras twice during the Gold Cup, so I give them some credit.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing what Bedoya does in Tampa, but I suspect he upped the value of his stock last night. He is young and will only get better with experience. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that he showed creativity and intelligence. He’ll be on the U.S. roster at the World Cup.

  14. red

    January 24, 2010 at 5:17 am

    coach bradly have to motivate the players to fight the whole game
    and to shoot hard on goal from all directions and distances.

  15. danny

    January 24, 2010 at 4:34 am

    no mutter how bad a day you have,
    at least show some heart,some fighting spirit.
    the americans played like robots,without soul.
    maybe part of the blame is with the couche,
    that dose not knowe how to motivate the team.

  16. nick

    January 24, 2010 at 2:17 am

    We are a country of 300 million going against a country of 7 million. Even our second string team ought to beat Honduras. Our passing and possession was just embarrassing.

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