- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On October 13, 2009
- 0 Comments
- Geoff Reid, Honduras, World Cup qualifying
Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears at WVHooligan each week. Today he is back to recap the recent World Cup clinching match for the US against Honduras. Feel free to leave Geoff your thoughts below.
Itís been a few days since the US national team secured qualification for South Africa next summer so now would be a good time to recap the latest events that took place in San Pedro Sulsa on Saturday night.
Before kick off, Honduras won eight matches out of eight in this world cup qualifying cycle. Nobody has managed to get a point against them on their own pitch in front of their own crowd. It looked like that might continue against the Americans after Oguchi Onyewu gave away a stupid foul on Carlos Pavon that led to the free kick which was brilliantly taken by Julio Cesar de Leon and Tim Howard had no chance. Give credit to the team and to Bob Bradley when itís due because this team could have folded and lost all confidence and composure after going behind on the road in a place where nobody has gotten any points.
With a little bit of luck and terrible goalkeeping, Conor Casey was able to get his head on Charlie Daviesí tall flick on and bounced the right way into the goal. While luck certainly played a part in leveling the score, Caseyís second goal didnít involve any, just pure class. Great through ball from Landon Donovan, a well timed run by Casey and ball watching from the Honduran defense followed by a beautifully calm finish gave the Americans the 2-1 advantage. Before we knew it, Casey won a free kick on the edge of the box in a similar position to where Clint Mathis struck the winner back in 2001. This time it was Donovan who stuck a brilliant dead ball and again, with the help of a goalkeeping error the US made it 3-1. Of course luck played itís role again, the a goal being disallowed for offside for the Hondurans, and then later on after the second goal for the hosts, Pavon pulled a Roberto Baggio and skied his penalty into row Z.
What did we learn?
Firstly, we learned that this team has the will and character to dig deep and pull together to come from the brink. After coming so close to getting a result at the Azteca in August, the players and staff now know mentally and physically what it takes to win in a hostile environment against a good team. Regardless if Honduras make it to the big dance or not, theyíre still a good team with quality players so this was a massive result.
Conor Casey. Iím not going to lie, I was just as surprised to see Caseyís name in the starting 11 just as much as the next person and to be ahead of not only Jozy Altidiore, but also Brian Ching who has been a favorite of Bob Bradleyís. While Casey did not cement his place in the 23 man squad thatíll head to South Africa, he did his chances no harm whatsoever and the person he needs to thank is Gary Smith because ever since Gary Smith took over at the Rapids from Fernando Clavijo he has been much more consistent in his goals to game ratio. The team as a whole have gotten much better and itís a wonder why Clavijo didnít get the pink slip earlier quite honestly.
Stuart Holden. Now the starting position on the right wing is Clint Dempseyís to lose, lets be quite clear on that. However, Holden showed being only in one game keep in mind, that he is an excellent replacement should Dempsey pick up a serious injury or lose form drastically. This season has seen him blossom into a better all round player who produces on a consistent basis after the Dynamo let Duane DeRosario leave. Itíll be interesting where he will be come the end of the MLS season and the European transfer window opens up.
Landon Donovan. Flat out, easily the best US player currently, arguably of all time. Iíve been a frequent criticizer of Donovan as much as anyone has, but the maturity he has shown in the last several years is quite impressive. I honestly think him getting married did help him a lot and even though that appears to be over, itís helping him grow more as a player and as a person. We always knew he had the talent to succeed technically, it was mentally did he have the will to want to do it. I think weíre seeing now he does, and wants to erase the memory of 2006 for good and prove to the world that he can play on the biggest stage and be a success. For his sake, I hope somebody snaps him up in Europe, but not in Germany.
Bob Bradley. As a lot of folks whoíve read my stuff before and know me, Iíve always been defending Bob at the worst of times and thereís nobody Iím more happy for then him currently. That being said, and Bob knows this better then anyone, the hard work is just beginning. Has he gotten some decisions wrong? Of course, all coaches do. Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink arenít always right. Heck even Sir Alex Ferguson makes mistakes from time to time and heís the best out of the lot. But more often then not, the good managers get it right more often then not and so far, Bob has done that. The Confederations Cup didnít get off to a good start, but once again, the character of this team shone through and eventually became only a heartbeat away from winning the tournament, and beating one of the best African teams (Egypt) and the top ranked nation in the world (Spain) before falling to Brazil. Sure, the US lost in Saprissa and the Azteca, but weíre sitting pretty at the top of the region again, with a very good chance of winning it again. Keep in mind, Tim Howard was absolutely right in that a lot of the teamís in CONCACAF are catching up and improving so this time around as weíve seen, itís been a lot more difficult to qualify.
The back four are still very suspect. Now if Jay DeMerit didnít have trouble with one of his eyes, he would have started next to Onyewu with captain Carlos Bocanegra at left back. While I donít think Bocanegra should be the top left back because he is vulnerable, he is the leader of this group and therefore he has to fit in somewhere, possibly in a 3-5-2 formation going into the center next to DeMerit and Onyewu?
Left back situation. This falls under the same category as the previous one but I thought it should get a mention separately. How many have tried the left back position in the last three years? Heath Pearce, DaMarkus Beasley, Jonathan Bornstein and Carlos Bocanegra, am I missing anyone else? While Bocanegra is the best out of whoís been tried there, itís time to give Edgar Castillo a serious look. Iím not saying heís the answer because we just donít know. But he deserves a shot as much as anyone.
The play of Altidiore. I know the kid didnít get much of a chance to show what he can do and was told to chase loose balls and everything else, but am I the only one who thought there was no need to give away needless free kicks when he came on? Itís obvious that he needs to get regular football under his belt and heíll get more of a chance this season with Hull City, but he has to work hard and earn his spot, just like Dempsey did when Roy Hodgson took over at Fulham. He has all the talent and the tools to succeed at the highest level and we all must remember heís just 19 years old! Heís also got a good head on his shoulders so he should be fine in the long run
So overall we can be very pleased with what the team has accomplished so far. But there is still question marks over a number of things such as the midfield situation. How much of a look will Jermaine Jones get? What will happen when Maurice Edu is healthy? Will Bob Bradley accommodate Jose Francisco Torres in somehow? All these questions will be very interesting to see over the next eight months or so.