It is the day after the U.S. national team’s impressive 3-2 comeback victory in Honduras and American fans woke up today to the reality that the USA has qualified for the 2010 World Cup. It is a reason to celebrate, a cause for some pride, and hey, if Mexican fans take to the streets to celebrate their qualification then American fans are certainly allowed to enjoy a qualification that was more difficult than most would have imagined.
will be have been traveling all day today so apologies for the lack of posts. If you want some more reading on USA/ Honduras, I can offer you the two pieces I spent all night writing for ESPN.com. This piece on the match, and this sidebar on Bob Bradley.
If you still want some more, here are some post-match quotes from the U.S. national team after its victory:
Bob Bradley on Conor Casey
“He was very brave to go into that play that led to the first goal,” Bradley said. “The second goal he did well to time his run, took the pass and finished it very well. He’s been in good form and we’ve been pleased that we’ve gotten him into our mix and tonight was a big one for him.”
“Conor’s played very well in Major League Soccer lately. His movement, his ability to hold the ball and bring people into the game, we just felt that the fact that he’s been playing regularly and the qualities that he has would be important at the start of the game.”
Tim Howard on Honduras
“They are a good team and I think a few people have been writing how this region is starting to catch up,” Howard said. “For so long Mexico dominated, and we’ve had our fair share of domination, but man, they’re catching up. I know no one wants to hear that but these guys are athletic, they’re playing in Europe.
“(In the first half) they’re putting passes together, with the energy of the crowd that is so behind them, it entices them to take chances in the attacking third and try some tricky stuff and it was coming off. They’re very good..”
Landon Donovan on returning to the World Cup
After what most of us would say was a disappointing 2006 World Cup we have another chance at redemption,” Donovan said. “For those of us who were there, we don’t want to go through that again.”
Tim Howard on Conor Casey
“What you see is what you get (with Casey),” Howard said. “He’s pretty vanilla ice cream. He works hard, he sticks in, he got called for every possible foul tonight, but when it counted he was up there and he took his chances.
“The second goal was fantastic but the first goal was classic Conor Casey,” Howard said. “I think that’s why Bob Bradley’s brought him back into the mix. He’s obviously done well in MLS, but he doesn’t make much about the game. He’s straightforward and what you see is what you get and I think everybody on the team appreciates that.”
Tim Howard on the relief of qualifying with one match to go
“I can tell you, it was going to suck to have to go to D.C. and get a result because anything can happen,” Howard said. “Even though we’ve won all our home games you never know.”
Landon Donovan on the Honduran fans
“The Honduran people that I’ve been around in America, and my time here, they are very respectful people,” Donovan said. “Pavon, when he was in LA, you could tell they’re very down to earth, very humble. Amado (Guevara) is the same way. Even after, as we were walking off, they were clapping. I was very impressed.
Thanks to all of you who took part in the SBI Pre-Game discussion, and to those of you who filled my commentary on ESPN.com. I will take credit for a pair of jinxes. For those of you who didn’t read the pre-game chat, I will direct you to the 7:21pm comment regarding U.S. free kicks, and I also did mention the possibility of a Conor Casey goal in the ESPN commentary, though it was more to set off the Casey haters.
One last observation I will make is of the Honduran fans and their respect for the U.s. team. Hearing some of them talk the day after the game, what I heard was plenty of positive comments about the Americans. It was a “That’s the Americans for you, never giving up and always finding a way.” It’s a bit of a shame that Honduran fans have more respect for the U.S. team than some overly cynical U.S. fans who spend more time complaining about what the U.S. team isn’t and what the U.S. team can’t do rather than what the team has done, and what it is, a brave and relentless team growing in skill and confidence.
One Honduran fan summed up last night game perhaps better than anybody. When Honduras scored its first goal the Americans never got nervous, never looked like a team that would fail. They looked like a team that knew it would find a way, and it did. That is why Honduran fans gave the United States a round of applause for Saturday's performance. As upset as they were about their team losing, they could still respect what the U.S. team accomplished.
That’s all for now. I will have more on Monday. For now, share your thoughts on the USA’s victory and qualification for the World Cup below.
Your points are well taken. In regards to the 1-0 win over the Faroe Islands by France–and I realize I’m taking this in a new direction–but I, for one, would never deny the existence of home-field advantage. I just happen to disagree that home-field advantage is bigger in CONCACAF than it is in other regions (I think this is a common point of contention). I agree that outsiders probably don’t realize how difficult the games are, but at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s any harder for a visiting team to get a result on the road in CONCACAF than it is in any other region. Second of all–and keep in mind that I read absolutely no reactions/match reports on the France match–I question whether French fans regarded the 1-0 win as a great success. My guess is they were, in large part, happy to have the 3 points, but somewhat unsatisfied in the end. There are definitely those American fans who think the sky is falling every time we struggle the slightest bit on the road. But I also think there are American fans who chalk every mistake up to “extremely difficult conditions.” I think both takes are incomplete.
I am not saying you are necessarily disagreeing with these points…it’s just my opinion of the whole home-field-advantage argument.
Sure was a great win!
Honestly though, Casey is a good player, but are we gonna let one good game give him the starting spot in place of Ching? We all know that Ching is a super power in the air and there aren’t many players like him. I don’t think that people see how much of an impact he has on the game. Look back on all the games that Ching has played in but hasn’t scored…watch the goals, and tell me that one of them didn’t start with Ching doing something: making a run to pull away defenders, bringing in fouls for freekicks, just small touches that don’t get recognized. People need to give Ching a break, he’s a great player.
Ives, “it was definitely a handball by an American player. That was clear from the replay…”
Since I missed seeing the entire second half, that’s what I didn’t know, clear handball by a US rubio, Spector or Holden, and Holden in the end, thanks.
When your only source is comments, and the culprit and decision itself are questioned, one may think there’s something more there.
(SBI-Oh, my bad Max. The replays showed that it was a definite handball on an American, but it wasn’t a sharp enough close-up to tell if it was Spector or Holden. I thought Spector at first but some said Holden (Never really thought it was Bocanegra.)
Bradley has been in charge since 2006. I don’t have the exact figure but I believe that amounts to about 55 games or so; this about 18-20 games per year. An MLS coach has 30 league games per year, an EPL coach has 38, La Liga 38, Serie A 38, and the Bundesliga 34. This doesn’t include practices, training camp, exhibitions, cup competitions, etc., which can boost the amount of time a club coach has with his team in a year significantly. A mid level team like Fulham can easily play more than Bradley’s 55 games in one season.
My points are:
– Bradley (like many national team coaches) has, comparatively, very little time with his players. Many times, Bradley and other national team coaches can’t get all the players they want when they want them due to injury or club conflicts.
– He came in during a transition period and had to blood many more players than Arena did.
– National team managers can’t go out and buy a new players like a club manager can. If they could, Capello would have bought Buffon for the England team and they would go on to win the World Cup.
All these factors contribute to the difficulty of trying to form a unit out of all the new guys. And disciplined team play, combined with team spirit and a never say die attitude are the strongest assets of the USMNT.
This explains why Bradley (and many national team coaches) likes to stick with a core group of familiar(all those guys you hate) players. They don’t have a lot of time to blend in new guys even if they are more “talented”. It also explains why national teams tend to decide on a particular style of play and then stick with it. You want to practice your style as much as possible.
You probably don’t want to hear this but those so called weaker teams are almost always the hardest to play because they tend to give you their best game. And if you don’t think home advantage means anything France, a powerful team, recently beat the Faroe Islands “only” 1-0 in the Faroes. And this was a World Cup qualifying match. Did you even know the Faroe Islands had a team? The US, like many “attitude” teams, also tends to play to the level of the competition. If you don’t believe me watch a few years of big teams going against lesser teams and you will see what I mean. Big blowouts in serious competitions are pretty hard to come by. And, since fans like you expect the US to beat everyone 4-0, there is no such thing as a meaningless game useful for practice. Watch what happens on this blog if we lose to Costa Rica, even though it is a “meaningless” game.
Player development for all of the US is not Bradley’s responsibility. His responsibility is to put together a team that can compete in and, hopefully, win, the World Cup, the only meaningful competition the USMNT has. I’m sure he, like all of us, would love to play attractive, entertaining, Brazil style football but he has to win first. The US hates losers and on balance, it is more important we compete well in the World Cup than how we look while doing so. The game here would have suffered badly had Bradley not qualified. By the way, I love attractive football but I also happen to find this US team very entertaining to watch because I appreciate their underdog effort. But then I appreciate teams for what they can do, not condemn them for what they can’t do.
Jeez gang, even Trecker was positive in his report, finding more positive than negative.
I’d love to hear more stories from the venues, how many were there, etc. Certainly made this game ‘memorable’, I thought of you as I switched streams staying one step in front of the law…though clearly would have prefered to be there or at a venue (family obligations with a young one), television a close second… streaming is so ‘2006’ 🙂
“Looks like Spector with the handball”
Ives, “Besides, the call itself wasn’t a questionable one so nobody really needed clarification about it.”
Two other running blogs reported Boca Negra and Spector as the culprit.
If three different players were credited with a critical hand ball it certainly might have been questionable, and it certainly did need clarification since two reports were wrong.
(SBI-Max, first off, there was no established process for us to have a pool reporter ask a question (that does happen in MLS) but more importantly, it was definitely a handball by an American player. That was clear from the replay, now if the handball wasn’t clear to say perhaps there would have been more urgency to try and get an explanation. The problem is FIFA refs aren’t obligated to give explanations, as we found after the Altidore goal waived off against El Salvador.)
Re: the sidebar article on Bob Bradley, I’m just impressed that someone found a picture of him in a polo shirt, dress shoes, and slacks. That can’t have been easy. 😉
Congratulations to the USMNT on qualifying for the World Cup!
(SBI-You do realize that’s what he wore in Honduras. Not sure why, but that’s what he had on.)
jimmygreaves – re-read my comments. I clearly indicated that I don’t think we’re ready for possession oriented attacking football against the better teams in the world. But against El Salvador? T&T? Barbados? We haven’t seen a possession minded line-up once under Bradley.
If you think we can’t dominate possession and create more chances on goal by doing so against such teams, you are the one with the overly-critical view.
I’m pleased when we win no matter how we win. But when we win ugly against inferior teams, its not fun to watch, I’m not satisfied and such wins do very little to grow the sport in the US.
Every kid in this country should be learning, and every youth coach in this country should be giving priority to players that are capable of playing, possessing-attacking soccer. And defensive minded long ball at the national team level does nothing to further that.
Let me put it this way.
Your expectations of what the US player pool is capable of compared to the big boys (Brazil et. al. ) player pool are akin to expecting a factory fresh, off the lot Honda Civic, to beat a heavily modified Honda Civic in a street race. Ignorant is about the kindest term I can think of because it means you aren’t familiar with both player pools and their relative merits.
Also,setting those goals high makes sense if you are the leader of the program or the coach of the team. But you aren’t. You are a fan. If you have some sort of influence or are striving to get some influence on those who set the goals, more power to you. But, if you don’t, then criticism is fine but setting your expectations higher than what the reality of the situation merits is simply setting yourself up for disappointment.
Jimmygreaves – I’ll ignore the ignorant comment because its silly to call people ignorant just because they have a different opinion. Keeping possession against inferior teams is a lofty expectation? Setting goals high is what leads to greatness.
Ives – you’re missing half the story. Your colleague Jen Chang didn’t feel it was inappropriate to tell the whole story…
David- that’s pretty far off the mark. If you read Ives’ articles, you’ll see he has plenty of criticism for past USMNT performances.
He’s just choosing to savor a great victory, and I think he’s right to do so.
I’m proud of the US. I’m not sure if I’m meant to feel ashamed for having high expectations for the team, but they played exactly how I knew they could. They faced some tough circumstances: calls often went for Honduras in bad spots; calls didn’t always go for the US when they were advantageous; and Honduras played very well in front of the home crowd, to name a few. But they maintained composure throughout. A truly commendable effort.
There are still people complaining about the effort. I’m not sure anyone could reasonably expect the US to show much more than they did in that game. On the other end of the spectrum, I think a lot of people took the opposite stance going in–grossly underestimating what this team could do. To me, this is almost as bad. Now that qualifying is almost over, I think we can see that the US held true to form, and we can be proud of that.
Now that the US is in, it’s time to start pulling for the 4th place team. Let’s get as many teams in the WC as possible. I like these teams from CR and Honduras–I’m hoping it’ll be a good World Cup for CONCACAF.
Ives – seriously man, you’re complaining about people focusing only on negatives, but you seem to only focus on positives.
(SBI-David, the team just fought back from a 1-0 deficit to win on the road in a stadium nobody had won in and clinched a World Cup berth in the process. How are the negatives anywhere near the important story of the day? They aren’t, and that’s the point. I wrote about the negatives in plenty of recent matches. This time around, there’s far more positive stuff to focus on.)
Ives, a note to the media pool. Why didn’t someone go to the officials and find out the hand-ball culprit instead of so much speculation. Doesn’t the referee write the number down?
(SBI-Max, have you tried covering a qualifier in Central America. Getting around the stadium, much less tracking down the referee, wasn’t nearly that simple. Besides, the call itself wasn’t a questionable one so nobody really needed clarification about it.)
hey guys just want to say i completely agree, we need to go all style no substance. it’s truly the way to be. we have so many world-beaters on our squad that we can’t settle for just finishing tops in our qualifying group, we need to embarrass our opponents. i mean we only won by ONE goal against a team that hadn’t lost at home, was playing in a game crucial to both their WC hopes and to their national pride, and also boasts arguably the best CM in the group. also for the einstein who said we need to play attractive football and THEN the results follow, isn’t the argument about clint dempsey that he’s extremely talented but sometimes focuses on showing off instead of doing the little things to win??? we are not and never will be brazil, that needs to be accepted and we all need to move on. i believe italy won the most recent world cup riding an incredibly strong and organized defense, not going for trick points. for all the negative people please abandon ship before SA 2010, you aren’t wanted and won’t be missed
DCDF- good post. Am guilty of over-reacting to the vocal negative minority, and will stop.
Truth is, I’m still savoring Saturday’s win, and will continue to for the next week. We are in the WC for the 6th time in a row!
As for attractive soccer, I grew up in the Netherlands for the first 10 years, immigrating to the US in ’78 right after the Dutch lost in the 2nd consecutive WC final. The Dutch have always had the ability to play amazingly attractive soccer, to the point where Dutch fans value playing attractive soccer over winning. The strategy is often too simply knock the ball around until the opponent falls asleep, and then strike. Sad thing is- one EC aside (’88), we haven’t won squat. In ’74, arrogance was our ulitmate un-doing, and ever since, lack of confidence has been. Although the USMNT currently does not come close to the technical level that a Dutch team throws out on the field, the US has one thing that all other national teams envy- a belief that it has the ability to win against any time it steps on the field, and an attitude never quits. Ultimately, when it comes to success in the World Cup, I put more value on our mentality, than on how much technical skill we bring to the field (although we are admittedly still very weak here).
I don’t think subbing more technically skilled players in during the first half of the Honduras game would have resulted in any more possession. I’d rather have mentally strong players in the field that won’t wilt during the barrage. Most of the European teams know that one secret to success against South American teams is to withstand the periods of heavy pressure and counter when possible. I think the US team is much better at this than even just a few years ago.
Attractive soccer is nice, but trophies are better. And then of course, there’s Brazil, which has plenty of both….
Dang overly cynical fans!
But seriously…we should have not given up those goals…my God…where is Beasley, we need a new LB. For petes sake…why cant Bradley make a stupid sub when the game calls for a sub. FIRE HIM NOW!!
And thanks for the forum Ives..you rock.
For the record, if we bunker/counterattack for all 3 group games, and win each with either a set piece, PK or own goal, I’ll gladly celebrate us advancing to the round of 16.
The last time I checked, the standings columns are WIN-LOSE-DRAW, not WIN PRETTY – WIN – LOSE – LOSE BADLY – DRAW – DRAW, BUT PLAY POORLY.
“I do wish this game were being played in a colder location though- zongzap”
We owe it to ourselves to respect the competition and Honduras and try to beat CR.
Forecast for the DC should be around the 49 degrees. It will be clear. Cold enough for you?
“The objective is playing attractive football. Due results will follow after that is achieved. – David”
It is perfectly fine to have the loftiest expectations in the world but yours are unrealistic and based, it seems, largely on ignorance. Clearly you are not very familiar with top flight football.
Spain has played attractive football for a very long time but won nothing until the latest European Championship. The difference? A change in attitude and the grit and determination of Senna, Spain’s luxury version of Jermaine Jones. Holland won one European title a long time ago but, given their talent level and abundance( 2 to 3 times much as the US)and their proven ability to play some of the most attractive football ever,are champion underachievers.
Brazil used to win just by showing up but after other teams started kicking them(lierally) all over the field and the talent level equalized just a little, they got tough and disciplined (Dunga is no pretty boy).
It is possible for a less talented but more disciplined, organized, passionate and hard working team to win things with a good plan (see Greece Euro 2004). Without such discipline, attractive teams win nothing but fans. Even Barca, the poster child for your syle of football, have their hard men schooled in the dark arts and know how to shut you down if necessary.
The thing about the style you are talking about is that if you play that way, the other guy can as well. This means you have to be able to match them( all 11 players that is)for talent and style. And right now the US does not have the talent to get into a shootout with Brazil or Spain. Torres? Feilhaber? Nice players, but don’t make me laugh. What the US can do is be in better physical condition, have better team spirit ,discipline and fighting qualities than the more skilled teams. They can also develop good tactics to maximize their strengths. Bradley has his flaws but he clearly figured out how to neutralize Spain’s Xavi.
I’m more of a glass half full person than you. Or maybe I’m just more impatient. I want to win something sooner than the 30 years or so it will take us to get our talent level equal to Brazil’s. That can happen (or we can get pretty close) if we utilize what we have instead of whining about what we don’t have.
God you guys give credit like our banking system.
First of all, I think it’s appropriate to give credit where credit is due: Bradley got the U.S. qualified. While this may have been expected, it is not a given exemplified by the many teams over the years who thought were locks and did not qual (Netherlands last WC!)
I think Bradley has done a good job overall with what he has to work with. I would love to see the U.S. play a more attractive style of possession play, but the fact is you need the players to do it. At this point in time, the U.S. player pool does not have enough of them. This is more an indictment against the development system of U.S. soccer than Bob Bradley. I am hopeful in the next 4-8 years we will see the emergence of such players and play. We are starting to see it in the likes of Torres and Feilhaber (and LD). More importantly, we need to see that technical level in our defensive backs who have the technical ability and confidence to keep possession and move the ball under pressure (look at Barca and Spain to see what I’m talking about).
Until then, the U.S. is better suited to playing BETTER teams because they are a much better counter attacking team than possessing team.
Here’s a BIG QUESTION: If the US wins against CR and stays at the top of the hex, will it influence how we are seeded in the WC?
Ives, do you know?
Opinions, opinions, opinions abound. Well, I’m just happy we won and we qualified. It doesn’t always have to be pretty (aka Italy 2006 or Greece Euro 2004 anyone?) Attractive doesn’t always mean wins, not that I wouldn’t mind attractive soccer though. But I’m just going to soak this in right now and know we are in the World Cup FINALS! Now that qualification is over, the World Cup is still just under a year away, and will give Bob Bradley time to finally tinker with his lineup and hopefully players like Jones and Edu can be healthy so we can get that holding midfielder position settled, and maybe even the leftback position as well. So lets all just relax FOR NOW! Then when the World Cup is closer, we can start worrying if the players we “think” should be playing are not getting their chance. Just learn to be happy we’re in the World Cup Finals. Take a cue from the Honduran fans….Go USA!
A. All teams have “fans” like this, and they seem to congregate on internet sites. I’m an LSU fan, and you wouldn’t believe some of the idiots that I’ve seen spew their opinion, even during our most recent national championship. I think there’s a certain basement-dwelling blowhard component, that has to work hard to make themselves seem smarter and better, by knocking the work and success of others.
B. @ChiTownFireFan… I didn’t see anything at all out of the ordinary in Chicago. All of the Honduras fans we interacted with were great. That said, the Mexico fans I interacted with in Houston were great, as were the Guatemalans in Birmingham and Dallas. I think a lot of the negativity is a “reaping what you sow” kind of thing. I’m sure there’s enough bad apples in any bunch. Perhaps that’s what you ran into.
Calling Casey weak is hilarious. The man gets beat up all the time in MLS but refuses to fall down… he gets called any time he fights back but he fights and fights…
It’s nice to see him in a role other then “hold up the ball for the last 7 minutes” that he was giving this summer and look what he can do!
Did you see the MLS all-star game? How can you call him lazy? Oh, because he isn’t a speedball he must be useless.
Everyone praises Jozy’s size but he used to fall down anytime anyone touched him (and when you’re his size you aren’t going to get calls) then he maned up this summer and shrugged off the Spanish Defense. But you guys used to call him lazy too, didn’t you?