Gold Cup

Gold Cup recap: USA 2–1 Honduras

Image courtesy of CONCACAF

The US defeated Honduras, 2–1, to open Gold Cup play. Clint Dempsey had two headed goals, but the US defense looked shaky, and the young wing players underperformed. The win is welcome, but the US will need to improve in order to succeed as the tournament progresses.

First half

The US lined up in a diamond 4-4-2, as expected, with Gyasi Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin in the wide midfield positions and Kyle Beckerman holding beneath Michael Bradley. Dempsey paired Jozy Altidore up top, while the back four in front of Brad Guzan was Fabian Johnson, John Brooks, Ventura Alvarado, and Timmy Chandler.

Honduras, seemingly looking to blunt the US attack, lined up in a flat-back 5-4-1, perhaps the most defensive formation possible. But it would be Honduras with the first chances, earning corners and taking shots. The US was put under immediate pressure, and one thing was clear: Honduras had come to play.

The problems stemmed from midfield, where Zardes and Yedlin were showing their positional inexperience and general lack of defensive discipline. Honduras had too much space and were playing with speed, looking much more dangerous than many expected. And of course, this being CONCACAF, there were fouls, lots of them, any time the US managed to hold the ball for more than two passes. It was the sort of game US fans have seen before against regional opposition, and not in a good way.

But the US would score first. After earning a corner on the right side in the 25th minute, Yedlin played it short to Bradley, whose cross skipped through the six without an American touch. The ball was poorly cleared and Altidore picked it up. His shot was saved as it headed for the far corner, but the rebound popped up for Dempsey to head in unmarked.

The goal settled the US down somewhat, but Honduras proved dangerous throughout the rest of the half. In the 30th, Honduras’s Anthony Lozano turned Brooks inside out and had a free look at goal. He chose to cross rather than try and beat Guzan from a tight angle, and Chandler was there to cut it out.

Moments later, the US nearly added a second. An excellent break driven by Johnson put Yedlin through on the keeper, but after cutting onto his left, his shot was straight into the body of the netminder. The US would have other chances, with Altidore nearly bringing down a Michael Bradley special special inside the box, but he was smothered before the shot is away.

The half would close with a series of pot shots from distance by Honduras, but the last was the most dangerous. In stoppage time, Andy Najar, who had been a nuisance on the left throughout, shook off a challenge from Yedlin, throwing him aside, then unleashed a rip that went a yard high. It was not particularly close, all things considered, but he hit it with real venom, and it would have given Guzan problems if it had been on frame.

Second half

The second half started choppily, with neither side asserting itself. Misplaced passes and shanked crosses were the order of the day. It took until the 57th minute for the US to really threaten, with another good break orchestrated by Johnson leading to an entry pass from Bradley into the Honduras box, but no one could catch up to it.

Honduras started getting at it on the break, too, but the US would get a second shortly after the hour mark. Johnson was again doing well offensively, and drew a free kick high on the left. Bradley sent in the cross, deep to the back post, and Dempsey was there to score his second, heading the ball down into the ground and in.

Honduras subbed Carlos Discua on for Mario Martinez before the 70th, and it paid immediate dividends. With his first touch of the ball, Discua received a pass from the right wing and took it past Alvarado into the US box, then slammed the ball past Guzan to pull back within a goal.

The game teetered back and forth, with substitute Brad Evans forced into a last-ditch tackle before another Bradley free kick forced the keeper into a good save low at his near post. In the 82nd, Honduras would have had the tie if not for the slightest of touches by Guzan. A cross from the US right bounced in the six. Guzan got his fingertips to it, just changing the flight-path enough to put off the Honduran attacker waiting to pounce at the back post, and the ball bounced wide.

Further chances proved difficult to find, and the game looked set to peter out. But a poor turnover from Yedlin led to a Honduras break in the 93rd, and he compounded his mistake by bringing the man down from behind 30 yards out. Luckily for Yedlin, and the US, the kick hit the wall and the US escaped with the win.

US verdict

Young players underwhelm: Brooks, Alvarado, Yedlin, Zardes—all looked shaky, with the center backs giving up bad chances one-on-one, with the attackers looking lost on the sides of the diamond. With players like Greg Garza, Alejandro Bedoya, Graham Zusi, and Mix Diskerud on the roster, it makes little sense to play young players in unfamiliar positions. If Klinsmann is serious about winning, he needs to reevaluate his starting lineup.

But experience pays the bills: Bradley, Dempsey, and Johnson all looked ready. Altidore was a ways off the pace and subbed off after an hour, raising questions about his fitness. Surround the US big guns with better help (like Bedoya), and the team looks like it could reach another level.

Chandler a mess: After scoring his first international goal against Guatemala (an eye-popping screamer), Chandler reverted to the poor play that has frustrated his US career. With Johnson a break-out threat from right back (and doing a damn good job getting involved from the left), Garza should slot in on the left, with Johnson on the right and Chandler on the bench.

Where’s the home cooking? Playing in front of a raucous home crowd, the conventional wisdom is that the US would get the borderline calls in their favor. Not only did that not happen, multiple Honduran players got away with multiple yellow-card worthy fouls without the ref reaching for his pocket. In fact, before a late call om Honduras, the only card went to John Brooks for a tactical foul in the first half. The US needs to play better, but the ref has a job to do, too.

Final thoughts

Honduras will feel unlucky not to get a draw. The US gave up too many good chances on individual errors. If that continues, the US won’t make the latter stages of the tournament, let alone win it. But Honduras didn’t have the composure necessary to make the US pay, while the US took advantage of Honduran defensive mistakes. It wasn’t easy, but the US will take it.

USA
1-Brad Guzan; 21-Timmy Chandler (16-Brad Evans, 62), 13-Ventura Alvarado, 6-John Brooks, 23-Fabian Johnson; 5-Kyle Beckerman, 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 20-Gyasi Zardes (19-Graham Zusi, 87), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 8-Clint Dempsey, 17-Jozy Altidore (18-Chris Wondolowski, 59)
Subs Not Used: 12-Nick Rimando, 22-William Yarbrough; 3-Omar Gonzalez, 14-Greg Garza, 15-Tim Ream; 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 7-Alfredo Morales, 10-Mix Diskerud, 9-Aron Johannsson
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

Honduras
22-Donis Escober; 2-Wilmer Crisanto, 3-Maynor Figueroa (capt.) , 23-Johnny Palacios, 5-Henry Figueroa (13-Eddie Hernandez, 75), 21-Brayan Beckeles; 10-Mario Martínez (7-Carlos Discua, 69), 6-Bryan Acosta, 19-Alfredo Mejía, 17-Andy Najar (11-Romell Quioto, 62); 9-Antony Lozano
Subs Not Used: 1-Luis Lopez, 18-Orlín Vallecillo, 4-Luis Garrido, 8-Rubilio Castillo, 12-Bryan Garcia, 14-Oscar Boniek Garcia, 15-Erick Andino, 16-Johnny Leveron, 20-Jorge Claros
Head coach: Jorge Luis Pinto

Scoring Summary
USA – Clint Dempsey – 25th minute
USA – Clint Dempsey (Michael Bradley) – 64
HON – Carlos Discua (Wilmer Crisanto) – 69

Stats Summary (USA / HON)
Shots: 5 / 9
Shots on Goal: 5 / 3
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 2 / 7
Fouls: 9 / 16
Offside: 2 / 2

Misconduct Summary
USA – John Brooks (caution) – 16th minute
HON – Johnny Palacios (caution) – 86

Officials
Referee: Cesar Ramos (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Alberto Morin (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Garnet Page (JAM)
4th Official: Roberto Garcia (MEX)

Venue: Toyota Stadium; Frisco, Texas
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. CT
Attendance: 22,357 (sellout)
Weather: 83 degrees; Mostly cloudy

12 Comments

  1. man there were a lot of really bad performances in that game.

    • Shaking off the rust, I hope. They scored solid goals and Guzan was solid. I’ll give it time knowing there’s room for improvement. Fun game to watch.

  2. Im certain more Greg Garza and no Chandler. I’m certain JK needs to find a way to get Fabian Johnson more involved….stunned how often we tried to build at through Chandler and Yedlin instead of Johnson and zardes. Yedlin wasn’t so bad but not very good … Either way they are weak links together. Zardes was marginal. Fabian Johnson is the best player on team. That effort was quite poor.

    • I think Yedlin might have had a better game if he didn’t have to pull a Honduran cleat from his calf every five minutes. That Ref. was horrible. No Honduran shown a card until, what, 15-20 mins left in the match. Ridiculous.

      • Great One says:

        The ref was absolutely horrible, and Yedlin was the victim in many cases. That said, he still was out of position way too often, and doesn’t have a move besises “kick and run past”, which isn’t the refs fault.

      • He wasn’t out of position all that much. He tracked back plenty and covered Chandler when Beckerman wasn’t. Can he use another move, sure. Is he the best defensive player on the field? Nope. But he’s not the worst either (Dempsey couldn’t spell defense). But I’ll take his speed and “kick and run past” any day, over Bedoya. Speed kills. Speed puts that lump in the left back’s throat. Speed caused all those “non-calls”, which had they been calls, would have caused more set pieces. Then led to more opportunities. And so on. Sorry, but I’d rather have speed and opportunities, than Bedoya.

      • Funny how differently we see things. Chandler and Yedlin were redundance of (out of control) speed- which is a detriment more often than not…Both fast both offering minimal – save errors.
        .
        Bedoya plays smart keeps it simple moves play. Leaves the flash to those better equipped to be flashy. Either way the whole team needs to be better.

  3. Great One says:

    Bad performances by many. Yedlin and Zardes make great subs when their pace breaks down defenders, but they both aren’t quite positionally aware enough yet. Idk what JKs love affair with Chandler is, he has underwhelmed far too many times. The obvious fix here is to put in Garza and Bedoya.
    .
    Beckerman looked a little out of place too and left runners at the CBs far too often. I think there needs to be a more experienced CB presence as well, there’s no need to let 2 CBs be blooded together in a tournament we want to win.
    .
    I say come out in a flat 4, with Mix and Bradley moving forward and backward as needed. Bring in Garza and move Johnson to RB. Play Ream or Gonzalez with Brooks. That kind of performance will not lead to many victories going forward.

  4. Completely underwhelmed by Altidore, and it looked to me like the midfield was having a VERY hard time communicating with all of the forwards. Way too many lead balls sent to space where the strikers were either going the other way or standing. I agree with the assessment of the wings, but Bradley was bitten on them as well. Cnandler looked like he was playing nothing but long balls instead of looking to communicate the ball from the back; dump and run types of clearances. Not a helpful way to play against a counterattacking team. Thanks for the win, but boy there is a lot of work to do.

  5. I think the H we may have struggled with the most was HUMIDITY. Altidore and Beckerman looked gassed after 15 minutes. Beckerman seemed to overcome it a bit, but Jozy never seemed too. I thought he showed ok is spots with his hold up work, but other than that, not much.
    .
    Bedoya was a big missing piece. Hopefully his fitness comes back quickly after recovering from the knee injury. I thought maybe we would see him at 60 or 75, but no.
    .
    I’d like to see Bedoya and Fabian on the wings. Garza and Chandler paired with Brooks and Alvardo.
    .

  6. Dr. Union says:

    A lot of poor performances. I would prefer to see Yedlin back at right back. Why not try this lineup of Guzan GK, Yedlin RB, Gonzalez CB, Brooks CB, Johnson LB, Beckerman CDM, Mix and Bradley CM interchanging as they wish, Zardes LW and Bedoya RW, Dempsey ST up top. You can bring Altidore or Johannson off the bench at ST or push Yedlin to winger bringing in Evans or Garza and switching Johnson if needed. And Zusi can come in as needed as well. It gives lots of options plus plenty of cover in the midfield with Mix Bradly and Beckerman. Last night they seemed lost without the wings tracking back and no possession in the middle of the park like when Mix plays.

  7. Less Chandler, more Garza. Klinnsman kept asking his midfielders to push higher. As a result, Beckerman was left holding the bag. Too often he was the only one in front of the back four. And at his age (not that he was ever a speedster), you can’t ask him to cover all that ground. He showed up to defend as a left and right back on a few occasions. Mostly when chandler got caught up field. Considering the heat, humidity, and ground he had to cover, Beckerman did pretty well, and deserves praise.

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