USMNT / World Cup

US v. Honduras

The Full Men’s US National Team lost to Honduras 3 to 1 last night in an international friendly in Carson, California. Although the loss is sure to bring down American fans, the result was not very significant. Furthermore the match appeared even more meaningless as a tryout for particular positions. This was due to the fact that players had to compensate for going a man down after the 18th minute when Jimmy Conrad was shown a second yellow card. The match was valuable, however, for Bob Bradley to test the determination of several World Cup bubble battlers and some future prospects.

The Hondurans played an excellent possession game with quick effective counterattacks. They played defensively and got a lot of players behind the ball. The US did not look as sharp in their passing or organization. Fortunately one of the reasons for this was that the team was made up of very few players who play together regularly for the National Team. These players were more of a reserve squad with the exception of perhaps Benny Feilhaber. The Honduran team had a few bigger names, who are likley to be part of the Honduran team that goes to South Africa. I suspect for instance that Carlos Pavon, Amado Guevara, Walter Martinez and a few others will all be going to South Africa. That aside, I was impressed by the fact that the US didn’t collapse into a defensive shell when going down a man. In addition I felt that the US was able to press effectively against Honduras even while being a man down. I liked that the US didn’t give up and was able to control the play even being a man down. The Hondurans didn’t dominate the US, but they showed how dangerous they are on the break.

I think the US was unfortunate to be a man down so early in the game, and I would suspect that the referee, Benito Archundia, had a pecuniary incentive to influence the game. Conrad received a dubious yellow card while getting tangled with Walter Martinez early in the match. Conrad looked to be trying to get around Martinez and Martinez cut in front of him. It was a foul, but it didn’t look intentional on Conrad’s part. There was a break out, but I don’t think Martinez was going to get in on goal as the foul was in midfield. Archundia should have just given Conrad a warning.

Conrad then received a second yellow for tugging on Jerry Palacios’ collar in the penalty area. Conrad was sent off and Carlos Pavon was able to rifle in a penalty kick. The pull was off the ball and a shot was taken that went over the cross bar. Palacios wasn’t in the play and didn’t have a chance to be in the play. Furthermore, Palacios milked the play by flailing his arms and falling. The penalty kick and card seemed absurd.

After that point we saw Jonathan Bornstein move in as a center back with Robbie Rogers switching to a left wingback role. Bornstein showed a lot of determination and played well for the entirety of the game. He showed the type of grit a coach would like to have on his team. Robbie Rogers didn’t impress all that much, and I don’t see him getting on the plane to South Africa. Other players who did improve their stock might be Alejandro Bedoya, Clarence Goodson, and Robbie Findley.

This was Bedoya’s first chance to play for the US and he showed decent defensive skills, creativity, toughness, and crossing. While I don’t see him going to South Africa, I think he showed enough to be considered for call backs to the National Team during the next World Cup cycle. He could be a future impact player for the US.

Clarence Goodson came in for the second half and played fairly well defensively in addition to heading in the only US goal. Of course this could easily have been considered a penalty, and I have to believe that Archundia had money on the Over/Under or Asian Handicap as I don’t think that this goal should have stood. Goodson made a good case for being a back up center back in South Africa.

Robbie Findley also had a good outing considering the circumstances. He didn’t have many chances on goal, but he didn’t give up and battled through the whole match. His speedy counterpart, Jeff Cunningham, on the other hand showed in my opinion why he has had little success with the National Team in the past. It looked to me like Cunningham just gave up after Conrad earned his second yellow card. That is not the type of mentality that will get you on the plane to South Africa.

Another player who didn’t help his case was Marvell Wynne, who was torn apart by counterattacks down the left wing. He showed that his decision making and positioning need to improve before he can be considered for a spot on the Full Men’s National Team. This is something he should be able to improve over time, and given his other attributes Marvell Wynne might just be a great right back in the next World Cup cycle.

Finally, Sacha Klejstan did not have a good night. I feel that he shouldn’t go to South Africa given his recent performances. He has just not been playing well.

I thought Dax McCarty, Benny Feilhaber, and Troy Perkins played well. I see Benny as being a back up and Perkins possibly taking the 3rd goalkeeper position. I think Dax McCarty will have to wait for the next World Cup cycle.

From my point of view the game was an excellent challenge to see who had the mental toughness to fight through unfair refereeing and going a man down. These have been in my opinion standard fare for the US in World Cups. I feel that Bob Bradley was able to evaluate many bubble battlers and baptize a few players in fire for the next World Cup cycle. Even though the US lost, I feel that Bradley was able to learn what he needed to determine who should be added to the US World Cup roster.

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