Yesterday the USMNT took on Honduras in the first CONCACAF Hexagonal World Cup Qualifying tournament, and it was not a pretty sight. Where the USMNT faltered, the Hondurans seized the opportunity. Where the USMNT failed to take advantage, the Hondurans recovered swiftly. Where the USMNT slowed down, the Honduras sped up. It was a grim game for fans of team USA.
Here are a few of my notes from yesterday's game:
Midfield? What midfield?
You've probably read about this complaint multiple times now across a dozen articles, but it holds true. At no point did the USMNT midfield seem like they were in control of the middle of the field. Honduras, from the very start of the game, exuded their dominance of that area and completely took it under control. More than that, it seemed as if Honduras' midfielders were by far the most technically skilled of the bunch. Nobody should doubt Roger Espinoza, of course, but why were the Americans being trounced so easily?
Is Geoff Cameron really our future centerback?
I have no doubt that Cameron makes all the difference at Stoke City. From what I've read (I don't really watch the EPL) he's in line to be their player of the season. But there's a lot that goes into being a good centerback. At Stoke he has different players and probably a different mentality. What we saw yesterday was not indicative of a world class defender. While Honduras' defenders were able to allow their keeper to sleep through half the game, Cameron and Gonzalez allowed Howard to be peppered with shots all game long. It was no wonder he was so angry all the time.
The weather was harsh and the travel time didn't help.
Think about it. You have players flying into Honduras from pretty much northern-based areas in Europe and the United States. What's the weather like, right now, in most of these places? If it's anything like Portland, then it'll be cool and wet. Now factor in the travel time and, especially for the Euopean players, jet lag and you have a confluence of events which create a team which simply isn't going to play at their maximum. It was an unfortunate scenario that definitely stacked against the USMNT.
Honduras really needs to invest in a lawnmower.
Why did the field in Honduras look like an unkempt lawn? Sure, it wasn't tearing up in places and it certainly wasn't dangerous, but it absolutely slowed the game down. With each pass, each kick, and each subsequent thud on the turf it slowed down to a crawl. I don't necessarily believe this favored one team or another, but it certainly didn't make the beautiful game all that beautiful.
Are the USMNT really second best in this region?
There was a time, a few years ago, when many US Soccer fans thought that the USMNT might have actually been on the verge of becoming the best team in CONCACAF. It was an odd feeling considering Mexico had dominated for so long. Fast forward just a few years and I'm wondering if they're even considered a distant second best. Obviously, an away match is not indicative of overall quality, but it's certainly been a long time since I've been impressed with the USMNT and, to me, Honduras simply looked like a better team.
What did you think about yesterday's first Hexagonal match?