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Honduras grabs late winner after outplaying flat USMNT in HEX opener

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The performance was underwhelming. The result was even worse.

The U.S. Men’s National Team got off on the wrong foot in their first game in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Wednesday afternoon, putting forth a flat performance en route to suffering a 2-1 loss to Honduras in hot and humid conditions at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula.

Clint Dempsey intially put the Americans up in the first half of their Hexagonal opener, but a spectacular bicycle kick from Juan Carlos Garcia and second-half finish from Jerry Bengtson saw a lethargic U.S. side surrender its lead and suffer its first ever loss in Honduras in World Cup qualifying

After a slow start in which Tim Howard was forced to make a handful of saves, Dempsey gave the U.S. the lead when he got on the end of a chipped pass from Jermaine Jones and hit a one-timed volley over Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares in the 35th minute.

Los Catrachos negated Dempsey’s goal, his sixth in qualifying, and brought the home crowd back to its feet four minutes later. A ball was whipped in by centerback Victor Bernardez from the right flank and fellow central defender Maynor Figueroa chested it back across goal. Garcia, who is also a defender, took advantage of some lax marking and hit an overhead kick into the upper 90 that Howard could only stare at in frustration.

The game was even at halftime and though the U.S. improved in the second half, it was Honduras which continued to look the more dangerous side. A goal by Bengtson was correctly whistled for offside in the 56th minute, but he wound up netting the winner anyway.

After a through ball was slipped in behind Geoff Cameron, Oscar Boniek Garcia took advantage of Howard rushing off his line by playing a square pass to Bengtson. Omar Gonzalez, who surprisingly started in place of usual U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra, reacted late and was beaten to the ball by the young Honduran forward who had an empty net to shoot at.

The Americans tried to push on for a late equalizer, but never found it. Gonzalez came close on the final play of the game, hitting a header that sailed high following a corner kick.

Now facing pressure to pick up points, the U.S. will next host Costa Rica at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in their second qualifier on March 22 before visiting Mexico at Estadio Azteca four days later.


What do you think of the U.S.’s 2-1 loss to Honduras? What went wrong for the Americans? What needs to change by the time the next qualifier rolls around in March?

Share your thoughts below.



  1. you can lay this one squarely at the feet of the coaching staff. It’s the only analysis that applies. The staff is tasked with putting players in their best positions to succeed as a team, and the staff gets an F for yesterday. For me it comes down to a lack of respect for our region, especially the raod qualis, and thus the poor decisions on who to start and where to play them. It was awful and the staff better get it right and damn soon or we’re toast.

  2. Beyond what i think were poor tactics by Klinsmann, when you look at the roster, Howard, Bradley, Dempsey and maybe Jones are what passes for the core of this team. Every other player is left to wonder if he will start or even be called in for the next game. Boca’s exclusion says more about Klinsmann’s lack of understanding group dynamics than it does about his tactical acumen. His is NOT a recipe for building team cohesion, there is so much unsettled, even those 4 must wonder what is going on and who will be next to him, or even if one of those 4 will be dropped. That uncertainty is not a recipe to mold a group that will fight for one another. Bob Bradley was much better at forming a group who would fight for each other. When B. Bradley had surprise selections like Casey or Hejduk, they seemed to fit in and one can argue they were key players that were responsible for wins in Honduras and an important tie in Panama.

  3. Right now Jamaica is holding Mexico 0-0 at halftime in aztecs. Concacaf is getting better, making it inexcusable for us not to step it up and play better soccer.

  4. Mexico lost to Honduras in the last Hex I believe. This game went as expected so I don’t know why people are tripping out. I’m really worried about Gonzalez though. Looked like he couldn’t hold a line and was beaten more than once. Honduras should have scored more goals. I really think that JK has to seriously consider Edu/Cameron at center back again. They played there when we won in Mexico City last year and looked good.

  5. Jesus, Im so confused.. I thought we were going to set the pace today, instead our guys looked tired after 20 min. Bradley,Chandler looked slow, Bradleys passing in first half was pretty bad. Killed many charges upfield. Nobody was winning balls on defense. After Dempseys goal, I thought the USA was regrouping well. Then that dreaded bicycle kick……ohhhh. Second half was back and forth, but we could not expand the field. They kept trying. I must say this, as bad as this turned out, The depth of the team will get better. What Im scared of, is the chemistry on the field is way off, and we lose a game that causes the USA to go into other qualifiers with very little points. If you think the pressure is now on, wait till then. I dont want to see this. I hope we get Holden in a couple of months to see if his chemistry works with others in the midfield, I know Donovan will be back…..sometime….In the meantime, nine more to go…

  6. Not all is lost. I’m fairly certain we can beat Oceania in a playoff…
    Subs were a bit odd, Edu for the 2nd game running actually played well.
    With Bradleys calmness we have lost some of his intensity on the defensive side. When our # 6 was dragged out of position the gap of space in front of our center defenders was/is asking for problems going forward.
    Guys like Klejstan, Torres, Williams, Johnson are lost when played out of position, so lets quit doing this. We aren’t Dutch.
    Fabian looked good in my eyes. Chandler now has made his bed and will have to improve or look at never playing internationally. That is a good fire to have under his over sized ass.
    Looking forward to Gold Cup to bring some fresh ideas.


    Subs: Licaj, Morales, George John, Beckerman, Agudelo, Hamid, Lleget, Gil, Shea, Donovan (why not? a little suspension pay your dues off the bench while showing some guys the ropes)
    Let this guys scrimmage our 1st team and let out some steam while letting the cream rise to the top.

  7. It was hot and humid, you’re supposed to conserve energy and give players 10 yards of space and only make a run or defend when you absolutely have to, plus they just traveled 1000+ miles 48 hours before and were jet lagged, what do you expect? Plus I think they were told Brazil will falter in putting on the Cup and we will get the automatic bid when were are awarded as emergency hosts…….

  8. Can somebody tell me what Jozy was honestly supposed to do? “Running harder” is the wrong answer. If the coach puts him in the striker position, then he will do what a striker is supposed to do. Which is make good runs, hold the ball up, link with teammates, and finishes chances. If there are never good balls played forward, the ball is never given to him in a good position to hold it up, no teammates are making effective runs, and certainly no chances are given to him then what is supposed to do? Decide he’s a midfielder and go take MB’s spot?

  9. Although I did not watch the game I expected the same result. I think you guys have lost sight of the root problem. For the USA to make it to Brasil, there has to be a change in the Manager. The problem we are having is the same one Bayern experienced with Klinsman as the Manager. He is unable to evaluate talent, field a cohesive team or make adjustment during games. He has no core believe and that’s why he keeps experimenting with the team. He consistently plays players out of position. As Georgio C said before he died, “it is a terrible hire”. After today’s game, we can only hope to garner a point out of the first four games. We need Mixx, Freddie or Corona in the middle. None of the midfielders except for Bradley have the vision needed to dissect a defence. Thats why there was no service. Being a good player does not always translates to being a good manager. Klinsman preaches one thing but does something different. He plays guys whether they are inform or not. He should have started Edu and Cameron at CB. Gonzalez is not in form and does not have the experience. Sunnil you need to go too. We’ve only regressed since Bradley left.

  10. I know that most everybody didn’t play well today. However, I am seeing a lot of talk that Omar should not have started, he is not ready, etc. Not sure why all the focus on Omar. What about Cameron? He was terrible today. After today’s performance from Cameron, I am not sure I wouldn’t say pair Omar and Bocanegra at DM. Now I am not saying Omar was great or anything, but Cameron was worse. I get that he lost his man ball watching on the tap in, but how in the world does Cameron/Howard even put the defense in a position to have to worry that the cross could be possible. Also, terrible marking on the play that resulted in the bicycle. I get that Cameron is “in form” because he is in season. Just didn’t seem to make a difference today.

    • Strange, Rock-Chalk JHawk. We posted at the same time about Cameron. I agree Geoff did not have a good showing. But I had been calling this for weeks, as he is not playing CB anymore for Stoke. Actually, his most recent game at Stoke he played attacking midfielder. But before that he was primarily at right back, and a time or two at left back.

    • Because Cameron can pass out of the back and looks more competent overall. Watch the game again. Omar punted the ball every time he received it giving away possession. Omar has great tools but might never be international quality.

  11. Should Geoff Cameron continue to play center back for the USMNT when he no longer plays the position at the club level? When I have brought this up in recent weeks smart guys like GW say, sure, why not? Well, Cameron did not look real good today. I think he is a great player and I like him, but if continues not playing CB at Stoke, then I think he will not be a viable option anymore for USMNT CB. I have no doubt that Cameron would have been better at right back today than Tim Chandler.

    I am so tired of Klinsmann thinking like he’s a divine being and able to put players in whatever positions he commands and they can miraculously play the role. We have a big player pool with players at all positions and I am beginning to seriously doubt Klinsmann’s ability to choose players.

    • It might not be ideal, but it certainly is possible. Marcin Wasilewski, a RB for Anderlecht, has filled a serious hole at CB for the Polish national for the last year or more.

      As always, it depends on the player.

    • hey biff, I’m tired of the guys being played out of position too

      Coach’s job is to put guys in the best possibility to succeed, and he did not get that part of the job done seems to me

    • George John is the solution?

      Are you kidding me? What about Bobby Boswell, Chad Marshall or Robbie Russell or the guy who plays center back for the Rochester Rhino’s. They have as much experience playing on the road in WC qualifiers as George John and are every bit as qualified. What have these guys or John done to demonstrate that they are any better than what we have now. Throwing darts at a dart board. Hell, bring back Jeff Agoos. At least he has experience.

      • If you ever REALLY watched him play you wouldn’t type something so ignorant, but whatever you can keep hitting the snooze button all you want as your inconsequential but If Klinnsman does the same we’ll all suffer as the L’s continue to pile up.

        Bottom line:
        Cameron has never proved to be as good *AT CB* as either John or Gonzalez in MLS and he’s not proving to be good *AT CB* in the EPL or for the Nats either.
        Despite what happened today Gonzalez IS the real deal but guess what. George John gives you everything Gonzalez does (i.e strength, positioning, anticipation, aerial dominance) while providing things Gonzalez doesn’t (much more speed/quickness, better passing)

        Cameron belongs in the midfield and John need to be called in so he and Gonzalez can get their reps in together at CB asap AFTER this tournament

  12. Towards the end of the first half there was a play where Chandler coughed the ball up to Costly, and Omar had to come across and pull a great slide tackle before Costly could cut in on goal. After the play Chandler didn’t even acknowledge Omar, and Omar turned his back and walked away.. I just wonder if there is some sour grapes between the two of them seeing how it was Chandler who blew out Omar’s knee during his training stint at Nuremberg…

    Just something that really stood out to me..

  13. What player, not named Dempsey, has produced goals consistently under Klinsmann? Based on the anti-Jozy vitriol on this site, you would think Gomez, EJ, and Boyd were producing NT goals left and right. Gomez’s contribution was a set piece goal that the keeper should have saved. Interestingly, the Jozy haters never miss a chance to belittle his PK against Slovenia. EJ had one breakout game and otherwise has shown very little. I like Boyd as much as anyone, but he isn’t there yet. Back to Gomez: what can we infer about the fact that people use words like “pesky” and “heart” to describe him? He isn’t an international-class player.

    At least some people recognize this team has major systemic problems. Others seem to put the whole team’s performance on the striker. It’s just like when people watch football and only notice the quarterback.

    Finally, I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I am getting the impression Klinsmann does not have a good relationship with some of the most important players. The team does not seem to play well for him. I never liked him as much as some, but my patience for JK has worn very thin.

  14. Thought, maybe its too late to be read.
    Should we consider EJ on the road for his better heading ability and speed on the counter, and Jozy at home when we’re more likely to have the service? I think it’d be ridiculous to bench Jozy in a real sense, but tactically, he does suffer from a lack of service, and Eddie has proven himself to be quite good at Route 1 (the Sounders with him play substantially more crosses – Sounder @ Heart had a bit on this), while Jozy would likely be the superior choice at home, when his linkup ability is more useful.
    Tl;dr: Jozy at home-better linkup play, EJ on the road-better heading and speed.

  15. Those who think this is Klinsmann’s fault are missing the point. Regardless of his team selection and tactics the players are responsible when the whistle blows. I hope nobody really believes that putting Gomez, Gatt, etc. on the field or changing the formation would have really made any difference when the our best players can’t get the job done on a one v. one basis.

    At some point the players have to show up and play. We either have players who are capable at the international level or we don’t. It constantly amazes me that a country like Honduras, with less population than Los Angeles, can produce a team full of players that show more confidence, skill, energy and will to win than the best we can produce in this country.

    There is no reason to push the panic button but this is depressing. We got run out of the U20’s and Olympics at the confederation qualifiers; maybe this result is a portent of things to come at the senior level and a natural progression of results that will finally show how bankrupt our soccer development system actually is.

    • Honduras played a lot of diagonal runs and passes toward the penalty area. Simple, but effective game plan. When those passes connected a U.S. player had to move to put on pressure and that created more open space for Honduras. This is why the U.S. players were not getting to loose balls.

    • El Chimbron!! What a concacaf killer he would be.

      I think klinsman needs a drill where everyone puts on wigs, he blasts Mariachi band salsa music, and every player gets a ball and tries to maintain possession while knocking other people’s balls out of the box. honestly think the USMNT needs this drill, daily

      Seriously now… How many times did jones, sacha, etc lose the ball at there feet?

  16. Newsflash: USA in WCQ = struggles on the road, fills up at home.
    Losing and playing poorly is frustrating, but it’s pretty much the way it’s ALWAYS been for the USA in WCQ. I’m not too worried until we start dropping games in the US… then, well, that’s a whole other story.
    Not excusing our bad performance, just saying it’s not that big of a surprise considering our WCQ history – even if we’d done well in Honduras recently.

    • No, but this makes the Panama and Jamaica away games even more crucial. We are very unlikely to take points in Azteca (although I would love to eat my words) and not so great in Costa Rica either.

      BTW…don’t panic. Remember where Mexico was in August of the last qualifying cycle….better to start badly and finish strong. You had to suspect this would be a tough game with the limited turnaround (Dempsey played on Sunday in England, for crying out loud) and the NATIONAL DAY OFF in Honduras. It is what it is. For all that went wrong it was a pretty even game. We just didn’t finish, and they did.

  17. The problem with the us is that JK is playing the best 11, not the right 11. There is a big difference between individual talent and team talent. You need to have the 11 out there who feel comfortable with one another and who have the best chemistry. JK is playing people at positions that they are not quite familiar with. He needs to understand this concept or the USA might not even be in Brazil in 2014

    • Problem is the lack of veterans. No Landon, no Boca, no Gooch, no Dolo, no proven veterans who’ve been there done that = we suffer.
      WCQ and the WC are really 2 different animals and you don’t necessarily want the same players in both (e.g Hejduk last cycle)

  18. They have a guy on the bench who could have made an impact. his name is brad davis. Everybody thinks hes too old or too slow but he is technically one of the most gifted players on the team. Hes been underappreciated his whole career, but he can play one touch and two touch with anybody and he always seems to make the right choice on his passes. No he hasn’t gone overseas but if given the chance you would see that he can compete and do well at this level. I say this after watching the game today. To many touches and gave the ball away too many times

  19. 1. Is it me or does it seem like these guys don’t want to play for Klinsmann?

    2. Again, the midfield featured THREE (3) guys that prefer to play centrally as “holding” midfielders plus Eddie Johnson on the left… did it seem like the organization of these pieces was an abject disaster?

    3. Not trying to overreact to one game, but can we all please chill with the man-crushes on Gonzales & Chandler?

    4. Does anyone have any idea what we were “trying” to do out there?… i mean, beyond the general fog that everyone seemed to be in, did anyone see any trace of a plan?

    • They looked lost as hell out there, and the goal we got was lame too. Both Honduras goals were an example of pedestrian defense. Those boys need to tighten UP.

    • best post yet, Daniel. The Socratic method of posting. I truly believe that US Soccer needs to have a contingency plan should we not pick up three points from Costa Rica. Not that the trigger should be pulled, but be ready to if we would also suffer losses against Mexico and Jamaica. And I am not joking folks. four games in with less then 3 points, Klinsmann has gotta go.

  20. There should be no sugar coating of this pathetic display. No sense of urgency, no intensity from the US team. I’ve seen pick up teams show more effort. Too many players looked like they thought all they had to do was show up to win. Well, they did a good job of conserving their energy, maybe they should put it to good use and walk home. I’m disgusted.

    And Klinsmann made a bad mistake bringing in Kljestan who was garbage. He gave the ball away down in the corner almost every time. He should have moved Dempsey out left and brought in Gomez up top. At least Gomez always hustles.

    • Disgusted is the best word to use. We have been playing absolutely awful soccer for quite some time now. I will not be surprised what-so-ever to see this team not qualify for the World Cup. That was pathetic. field conditions, heat, new centerbacks, travel time, blah, blah, blah. Honduras just DOMINATED us, we were over matched for the entire game. We scored one goal against the run of play, i repeat, we were awful. So as a country are we back to where just qualifying for the World Cup is a success? Because I can promise you that teams like Honduras have the same the goal. I was under the impression that we were trying to become a force amongst the world soccer forces? I guess I was wrong. Hurray I can’t wait to try to back into the cup! At least then we fulfill our goal!

      • America doesn’t have system to make a world’s best player period. Chandler was highly overrated by U.S. fans who pretended as if he were the savior we needed at right back.

      • Chandler is a pretty good player. He’s just very inexperienced. But with Dolo out, who would you realistically want out there if not Chandler? The problem was our back line was just too green. Klinsy gambled a bit: get Omar and the lads big game experience, sit Boca, don’t call in Gooch.. it backfired, though it might be one step back for 2 steps forward since the only way to gain experience it to get whacked in the face really. Time will tell.

    • For sure, Jamaica is a decent team but it will be a bloodbath unless they park the bus reallly really good. They will sacrificed at the alter, if they defend poorley.

  21. I’m telling you guys, Klinsmann works players too hard in training and they get gassed on match day. It’s been happening a lot, but no one notices in friendlies because we get so many subs.

  22. ok if we need to blame someone for this result is has to be Klinnsman….we have a pretty good team to go out into an away match play our game and attack while also defend. Now Klinnsman took the the defending strategy which tells me that his afraid or doesn’t beleive in the players enough. Now hopefully his afraid Now I’m not saying that they play horrible they didn’t when the US had the ball they control the pitch Honduras was scare at times because the usa did a good job at times to run into space like the goal Dempsey score now just imagine if they would of play a more attacking strategy then the one they played. Look I know playing defensively might give you a tie but you don’t see Mexico doing that in a away games do you? The USA has the players in this team to play their normal attacking game so why not use it!!!! Sure Cameron made a mistake so what it happens it sucks but no body is perfect but did they attack right afterwards NO!! instead Honduras attack and attack Come on Kilnnsman I know he is a good manager and he shouldn’t be afraid of going all out because you might just come up with a win outside the US if you attack more and don’t play a defensive style of play. I have more to talk about but that’s it.

    • Honduras didn’t attack and attack you idiot. both teams sat back. its 90 degrees out in the winter, you expect players that are playing in europe right now to attack for 90 minutes. you would be a great coach you bum

      • LOL I know honduras didn’t attack and attack for 90 mins lol you didn’t read it right I said they attack and attack after they score the second goal while the US continue to sit back waiting. But overall Honduras did attack more than the US because of the defensive strategy they use. All I was saying is that Klinnsman shouldn’t be using a defense approved anymore while playing away games they should just play their game like they would if they would play here in the USA. For example look at Jamaica they didn’t play defensively except for the last ten mins of the game against Mexico and extra 6 mins too. They got a good result with a tie. But I assure you that if Jamaica would of play a more defensive game they would of lost.

  23. We looked slow, indeed. Back 4 (save Johnson) were unimpressive. I don’t know why Chandler is so casual back there. The corner that led to the first goal was because Chandler was back there messing around, gave the ball up and Gonzo had to come slide tackle leading to the corner.


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