The final stage of 2014 World Cup qualification got off to a horrendous start yesterday with the USA falling 2-1 in Honduras. Although America has 9 more games to right this wrong and qualify for Brazil next year, the game showcased a monumental problem for America and better provide a serious wake up call to the players who will surely be disappointed and frustrated with how they played in this match.
Although Honduras didn’t take the lead until the 79th minute, they deserved to win this game and were clearly the better side. The game stats reveal that Honduras had 57% of the possession, and they dictated the match from the early goings. Although a lovely piece of skill by Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey saw America take the lead against the run of play, the fact that Honduras fought back will have surprised no one.
Juan Garcia’s fabulous bicycle goal off of a corner surpassed the skill of Dempsey’s goal to equalize just moments later. But when some terrible and lazy defending literally gave the game to Jerry Bengston and Honduras, one has to question the backbone of the American soccer team.
Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez should not be anywhere near the American starting lineup again after this goal. Both players were equally lazy in defending the opportunity and could have prevented the loss with a bit of grit and determination. Yes, the conditions were difficult with high humidity and temperatures in the 80’s, but that can hardly be an excuse. If America is able to reach Brazil, you’d better expect similar weather conditions, and if the USA can’t still provide enough of a spark to play hard late in the game, we will be embarrassed at the World Cup.
Offensively, the USA was woeful as well in this game. Jozy Altidore will have won no more of Jurgen Klinsmann’s faith with his one-shot performance, and he rarely got a sniff at goal. Although he can avoid blame through his despicable support that he received, Altidore didn’t make enough effort to get into the action and come back to fight for the ball. The only players who looked capable in this match were Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, and Clint Dempsey. Everyone else seemed to be taking the game too relaxed and it costed the team in the end.
Yes, Landon Donovan was sorely missed and could have provided some serious help, but this team cannot depend upon a player considering retirement. The talent amongst the team is clearly there, highlighted by the prestigious European clubs that our players represent, but there seems to be a definite lack of intensity in the American team. That belief and hard work was clearly missing from the American side as they allowed Honduras to pass their way around and dictate the entire game. We can only hope that this defeat provides a wake up call to the American team, and that their effort will improve as qualification plows on through the spring. If not, we could very easily see the USA humiliated and unable to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Let’s hope the next match shows a more dedicated team!