The United States Men’s National Team escaped with a 2-1 victory over Honduras in Chicago today to put them solidly in second in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. However, the win sounds better than the actual quality of soccer the US put on the field. This team will no doubt qualify for the 2010 World Cup, but if they want any chance of shocking the world in 2010, they must play better.
The 35th ranked Honduras National Team scored just five minutes into the game and kept the US on their heels for much of the first half. Landon Donovan however, did knot the score at one on a penalty shot just a couple minutes before halftime. The PK came after a Honduran defender touched a ball in the box. The call did not come from a great play from the United States where all Honduras could do to prevent a goal was to foul in the box. The call was off of a lucky bounce that hit a Honduran defender who had no pressure on him. A goal is a goal, but this one does not quite qualify as quality.
The US’s second goal came midway through the second half off a corner kick, which Donovan headed across the goal and Carlos Bocanegra finished off with a diving header. The goal came off of a set piece and a mess in the box. It was better than the first goal, but nonetheless, nothing special.
For this team to compete with the top teams in the world, they must string passes together and break down defenses. The US had trouble keeping possession and had very few, if any, great goal-scoring opportunities off of the flow of play. Their defense broke down a couple times and communicationseemed to trouble the forwards all night. Having to fight this hard with Honduras shows that the US isn’t ready yet.
That’s okay though, because the World Cup is still a year away and the US was without Brian Ching (injury) and captain Michael Bradley (suspension) tonight. Without those two, the US is much weaker offensively, but they still managed to score two goals tonight. That’s a positive and Tim Howard’s goalkeeping has been excellent. This team has a long way to go to become a top-notch team and I can’t really see them getting there in just a year. They are too old at some positions, too young at others, and too unskilled at even others. As unbelievable as it would be to watch this team advance deep in South Africa, I can’t see them making it much farther than the Group Stage. Once can dream though….