U.S. Men's National Team

Gold Cup: USA vs. Honduras (A look ahead)

USAvsHaiti (ISIphotos.com)  

                                                                         Photo by ISIphotos.com

We are a day away from the U.S. national team's Gold Cup semifinal against Honduras and if you're feeling a bit concerned about the U.S. team being able to beat Honduras for a third time this summer, you have reason for concern.

The Hondurans are coming in off a confidence-building victory against a very tough Canada side, and while the referee helped the Hondurans in the quarterfinals, the Catrachos still did their part to win that game.

Meanwhile, the United States is faced with a roster that seems to lose players every game, either to Europe or, in the case of Jimmy Conrad, to injury. Bob Bradley has stuck with his initial group and has been rewarded with some impressive comebacks and individual performances.

Will the Americans have enough to beat Honduras for a second time this tournament?

It will be up to players like Stuart Holden, Brian Ching, Davy Arnaud and Chad Marshall to step up and pick up the slack for the departures of players such as Charlie Davies, Benny Feilhaber and Steve Cherundolo.

Will Bradley turn to Clarence Goodson to replace Jimmy Conrad (who I don't believe has been ruled out yet but who I can't see playing after that nasty concussion vs. Panama). Michael Parkhurst seems like the more likely replacement in the lineup because you would think Bradley wouldn't call in Parkhurst just to have him on the bench.

Whoever plays will have his hands full against a Honduran attack that had some chances in the first meeting between these teams, and it must be said that shutting down Carlos Costly for two matches is asking a lot. If Chad Marshall can pull that off then he will continue to climb up the centerback depth chart (where I currently rate him just behind Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra and Jay DeMerit).

One player to watch for Honduras is Kansas City Wizards midfielder Roger Espinoza, who has quietly enjoyed a stellar tournament. His growth as a player in the past two years, and performance in the Gold Cup, is just as much a testament to Major League Soccer's ability to develop talent as are the tournaments of players like Holden and Beckerman.

For those of you who didn't see it, here is my preview of the match for ESPN.com.

What do you think of tomorrow night's match? Are you worried about Honduras, or have you grown confident in this young group of Americans? Who do you see stepping up this time? Who are you hoping to see in the Gold Cup final?

Share your thoughts below.

  • CT

    Franky, you’re assuming that since you’ve seen the combination of Altidore/Davies have success that the Altidore/Davies combination is the best possible combination. Have you considered either Ching/Altidore or Ching/Davies? If you recall, the Ching/Altidore combo scored 3 goals against Costa Rico in a WC qualifier. Ching is sufficiently dangerous as a goal scorer to keep the defense honest, but his true value is as a facilitator for other players. I don’t have the stats at hand but I’m willing to bet the following in WC qualifying this cycle plus Confed Cup: 0 assists for Altidore, 0 assists for Davies, 4 or 5 assists for Ching. Many times the assist is what makes the goal – the assist is so skillful that a caveman could finish the goal. But don’t take my word for it – look at how much attention Ching gets from opposing center backs when he is on the field.


  • Franky

    While I completely agree that having a guy who can hold the ball up top and distribute to set up goals is incredibly valuable, the fault in your logic is that Ching is NOT that guy. Have you watched the Gold Cup? How many goals has he set up? That would be 0 other than the easy header he had against Honduras. But we were already up 1-0 in that game b/c Davies came on, instantly added spark, and SET UP the first goal to Quaranta.

    And while I dont have a high regard for Ching, it is really the tactics of playing Ching that I deplore. We are a much more dynamic team when we can possess the ball and create an attack through possession. When Ching is on the field (it was the same as with McBride) we revert to playing long ball. England has proven over the years that the playing very direct tactics is not effective on the international stage. Its too predictable to defend. If you’ve ever played the game at a high level then you know that. Now England has Capello, they play a more possession oriented game, and they are winning.

    When we play against CONCACAF teams we should be able to possess and create. We are superior to every other team and reverting to a very direct style hurts us. We NEVER would have scored those goals against Egypy, Brazil, and Spain with Ching on the field. And the fact that Ching can score a couple of goals against CONCACAF opponents is a result of their inferiority, not CHing’s ability.


  • Isaac

    Listen, Ching doesn’t have the flair of a goalscorer like Davies but his play has a ripple effect on the team. Ching definitely is that guy. It’s not like Ching hasn’t set up chances either. He set up Cooper with that left footed miss against Panama. He’s had a hand in so many goals for the USA in Qualifying as well. Dempsey’s goal against Cuba, Donovan’s goal against Cuba, Altidore’s first goal against Trinidad and Tobago, Altidore’s goal against El Salvador. He also helped in the build up to Quaranta’s goal against Honduras and Holden’s goal against Haiti( That was pretty lucky so discount that one).

    We can be a dynamic team sure but do you see what happened when we played against a team who plays the possession game better than us and we tried to beat them at it? We lost. If you can’t beat them at the possession game you need to switch to a different style. We NEED a striker like Ching against those teams so we can whether the storm. The reason he’s a great striker is, like I said, his effect spreads throughout the field/game/team, rather than the 18 yard box.


  • Franky

    Look at all the games you are mentioning for Ching….they are against low level CONCACAF teams. Eddie Johnson can even score against those guys.

    I agree that our inability to put together possession in the 2nd half against Brazil cost us. But look what we did in the 1st half. Had we not conceeded a goal 45 seconds into the 2nd half it would have been a different story. And look what we did against Spain. The fact of the matter is had CHing been in the whole time we NEVER would have had either of those leads. So bring him on for the last 20 to help us kill the game, fine. He may be marginally better than Davies and Altidore and holding a guy off and laying the ball back, but he has zero ability to create anything. And when he is on the field we dont try to play his feet, we try to find his head, which is not intelligent soccer


  • JKlins31373

    Not sure on why the comparisons on Rogers and Holden. Rogers as had 2 assist (actually a third because first goal against Panama was from his cross)and 1 goal. Holden has had 2 goals and 1 assist. Rogers has played clearly superior defense the entire series (Holden cost the USA a goal). Rogers has had about 4 times as many completed crosses as Holden. Rogers is slightly ahead on completed pass ratio.

    Therefore, not really sure how you can compare the two but I know where they can be most helpful. Holden is a Dax type player that will be most helpful if he stays active and causes some linkage with the center mids. Rogers can be most helpful if he continues with his excellent defense (it gives Pearce confidence to attack) and opens space for the strikers and mids with his attacks-this also forces the opponent to double team.


  • andrew in tampa

    anyone know of a place in Tallahassee to watch the game tonight? I am marooned far away from my Verizon fios


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