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After surviving Honduras scare, USMNT still has work to do in World Cup qualifying

Tuesday’s point wasn’t enough to send the U.S. Men’s National Team to Russia. It wasn’t even truly enough to fully get feet back on firm ground. However, it was just enough for the USMNT to help their case in just the slightest bit.

Down a goal with time ticking away, Bobby Wood fired a vital goal in the 85th minute, sealing a 1-1 draw with Honduras in San Pedro Sula. The point keeps the USMNT level with Los Catrachos heading into the final two games, but ahead due to a massive advantage in goal differential. Panama may have leap-frogged the USMNT to take over third place, but the U.S. is on somewhat stable ground heading into the final two World Cup qualifiers.

A loss would have upended any of that, making the final two matches pretty much must-wins mathematically. But, with Tuesday’s result. the U.S. can exhale just a little bit after stealing two points away from a team rivaling them for a World Cup berth.

“It’s about finding a way to survive and dealing with everything that gets thrown at you and having a group that can hold up in the toughest moments,” captain Michael Bradley said after the 1-1 draw. “Taking three points when you can take three, but finding a way to take one and keep other teams from getting three on other days. This is what it’s all about.”

“We know we have a lot of work left to do,” added Jordan Morris. “It keeps it more in our hands now. We have two really, really big games. We have to go back to our clubs and get ready for those games in a month or so.”

Were there difficulties on Tuesday? Yes. The conditions were brutal and the heat was crippling. It was a physical match, for both teams, and that physicality led to physical and mental mistakes throughout the opening 80 or so minutes.

The one that hurt the most? Omar Gonzalez’s missed slide which opened the door for Romell Quioto’s opener. For the second consecutive match, defensive mistakes threatened to doom the USMNT to defeat. Gonzalez’s missed tackle put the U.S. in a precarious position both on the day and in the standings, adding a massive amount of doubt from the second the ball hit the post and trickled into the back of the net.

A switch to a three-at-the-back set midway through the second half changed the tone, inserting Geoff Cameron to sturdy the defense while taking away overmatched fullbacks in DaMarcus Beasley and Graham Zusi. Paul Arriola and Wood brought energy, adding a bit of life to a U.S. team that was forced into hoofing long ball after long ball into oblivion.

Eventually, it was Wood that provided the goal as he fired home in the USMNT’s most complete and dynamic sequence. Kellyn Acosta’s free kick, Matt Besler’s header, Morris’ flick. It was a team effort, one that produced the goal required to take a point away.

“It was a pretty big goal even though it wasn’t the nicest,” Wood said. “I’m glad. It would have been very difficult if we didn’t come out with a tie. I’m glad that I got to help the team. That’s all that matters. I’m just happy that we got a point.”

Now, whatever happens in October will determine everything. It will determine a spot in Russia and what the last four years have truly meant for the USMNT. It will determine legacies and futures.

Tuesday’s result may just play some small part in that, and it may just play a small part in getting the USMNT back on track and back to where they need to be. A win over Panama would be massive heading into the qualifying finale against Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. will wait until that final day to learn their fate, one way or another, but they may just look back on Tuesday as a match that helped get them there.

“Clearly this was an important point for the U.S. team today,” head coach Bruce Arena said. “The conditions were quite challenging for both teams and I’m really proud of our team and the way we hung in there and battled and walked off the field with a point.

“I’m sure the Honduras team is disappointing. Welcome to World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF.”


  1. Turkmenbashy:

    Exactly! People forget that Mexico and CR are very good if not elite teams on the world stage. CR gave up one goal the entire ’14 WC and could’ve easily gone to the semis. Mexico could’ve easily made it to the quarters. And oh yeah – while the US has underwhelmed this cycle hasn’t that been at the very likes of Mexico and CR? With Navas in goal CR are a tough nut to crack – for any team in the world. Yet all the current so-called US supporters who are hating on the US right now conveniently ignore this fact. And last I checked before these tough home losses to Mexico and CR, the US were considered a good side. Slightly below those two teams, but a side that could compete well with most sides in the world if not the elite. Frankly that’s where a sizeable amount of teams reside. And yes the US is in let’s say the weaker half of the Tier 2 teams, and maybe even a Tier 3. But Tier 3 teams are generally competitive in almost all matches. Just sick and tired of people living in a fantasyland where CR and Mexico suck, don’t also struggle on the road v the remaining Hex, etc. If things break only slightly better the US could’ve tied both Mexico and CR at home. Wake up US haters – Concacaf nor the US are nowhere near as bad as you assume. And should the US qualify for the WC, they along with CR and Mexico will prove it. I could easily see any of those teams making a run to the quarters. With CR or Mexico going as far as the semis.

  2. In the last 3 WC Qualifying Matches, the USMNT had a streak of 259 consecutive minutes
    without a goal. If you can’t push a goal across against CONCACAF competition in 259 minutes, you may not belong in the World Cup. There is enough talent on the roster. Either the players are not adequately motivated, or they are playing the wrong people, or there are too many conflicting styles of play indelibly etched into the minds of the team members. Its disappointing, but the U. S. will have an opportunity to save their seats for Russia with a win over Panama. A tie will not do it. A win it must be!!!!!!!!

  3. yeah, I don’t get the hate for Bradley. He is not the problem. If all our players put in his effort, we wouldn’t be fretting like we are now.
    Arena wanted the team to play out of the back. That led to the first CR goal and a bunch of nervy moments. Arena has always wanted his backs pushing forward and overlapping. Zusi and Beasley and Villafana all got caught upfield on opposition counters.
    I fault Arena for starting Nagbe and Bradley together in CM against CR. The Honduras match, OTOH, played out like a typical away match in the Hex, and we got a point out of it. Those who were expecting a victory were never realistic to begin with.
    This is my 6th hex and none of what we have seen so far is new. We don’t have anywhere near the players needed to walk through qualifying the way Mexico has. We are not top dog in Concacaf and we are competing against much better teams than in the past due to MLS and its positive effect on the development of Concacaf players.

    • Panda, 2017 Bradley is a problem
      Teams figured Bradley out end of last cycle, their game plan is simple do not give him time on the ball. Unfortunately, teams that scout us know Bradley can make some great long passes to the AM and FW lines if given several seconds to pick it out. They have long since corrected this and press him so hard and quickly that he is forced to pass out to the wing or back to a CB or GK to maintain possession.
      He just doesn’t have either the foot speed or technical skills to relieve that pressure and get around that first pressing defender to give him more seconds to pick his pass out. A CDM/6 needs to shield the back line and be able to link the CBs with the AMs and FWs. Watching Bradley the past couple years he always seems to be just trotting back to his position to help the back line if we turnover in midfield. I’ve seen this and it seems that play just goes right by him as everyone else is sprinting while he’s jogging back to help. So different from his 2010 and early 2014 form.
      If he had more speed or technical ability he could use that to take a few quick steps and touches to move by a pressing defender and make his passes but he just can’t do it anymore man. He had his day and I’m not bashing him, he does have a knack for making great passes out of the back but he just can’t create the space or time anymore to see and make them anymore.
      Instead of moving the ball forward quickly if the ball funnels to Bradley the play slows as he passes sideways or back and the opposition can set their lines and comfortably defend and hence making unlocking the defense much much harder.
      This is why he’s always more effective with a second MF next to him. It gives him someone to pass out to and receive it back which gives him that time on the ball to pick his best forward pass out.
      A bit more speed or technical ability or the right MF partner and we could see the Bradley of old but now he’s slowing play down too much thru the MF and its killing us.

  4. sure, MX and CR might both want to put the knife in and twist it and that’s just sports, nothing wrong with that. we just have to play better, that’s all.

  5. Ha, Jeez guys, I was a fan of JK, you all know it. I said then I wasn’t sure Arena was the right answer… but piling on like this is a bit unseemely. Yes in Honduras we played kickball… But I said it before with JK and I’ll say it again with Arena… poor performances are not all the coaches fault.

    1. Gonzales is T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E… I hope to god I never see him playing in the US uniform again. Its not based on this game, but now on an accumulation of games…

    2. Now I understand why JK didn’t rate Nagbe. The dude can’t pass. He puts his head down and just dribbles into 5 guys, who take the ball away. I remember being 6 yr. old. and learning not to do that. Nagbe seems to have missed that lesson. In the CR game, he seems to have influenced the rest of the US team to play the same way! That is why we lost against CR… watch that game again, and count every time a US player has the ball. Half the time I got to 10 seconds… Either Arena told them to do that, or they did that themselves, either way we will never win if we are going to keep doing that.

    3. CONCACAF has gotten better. There are 5 good teams in CONCACAF now and qualifying is not assured. This is a change. We should get used to it, because in 4 years, we may not make a World Cup (I am still sanguine about this one).

    4. Bradley is not the problem, people… he looked fine in between Ream and Cameron… and when Cameron stepped into the Honduras game, Bradley looked better again. It is our CB. We have 2 world class CB and two average ones (Brooks and Cameron, with Ream and Besler behind)

    5. Howard is fine… he made a mistake… but he is still better than Guzan. I agree that I bring Horvath to the WC… but this is Howard’s World Cup.

    6. Zusi is not a RB and Beasley is done at LB… if Villafana can’t cut it… then we need FabJo at LB… which sucks… fine… but I’d rather have him there with Yedlin and run a 4-1-3-2 with MB as the anchor. Pulisic in the middle, Arriola on one side, Acosta/Nagbe/hyndman/whomever on the other, with Wood and Morris/Dempsey on top (Altidore can sub in if he pormises to run hard for 30 minutes.

    7. We need to do something about CONCACAF refs. IN the CR game, we HAVE TO get that penalty. home teams get those calls. I say we rotate refs… concacaf refs do Europe, Europe do US, Africa in LatAm, LatAm in Asia and Asia in Africa…

    8. We’re just not that good… guess what, neither is Italy, or England, or Argentina (who are in real trouble too).

  6. The prospect from brugge is 23 ,years old,in spain they use goalkepers youngs
    germany,Italy,you do not lost anything triying whiit this star, is already a veteran he has played
    in u17 usamnt,u18mnt,u20mnt,what more you want to know

  7. 1 don´t understand,why the promisig gollkeaper from Brugge,that shutout mexican Guillermo Ochoa and won 4-0 at sporting gijon en jupiter league,wash not considerd
    by the USAMNT,he has a very good technikal skil,and agilty like cat,now in 2017 is
    much better than Tim Howard,and Brad Guzan the firs is 38 years old,and the second 33,
    and nick Rimando near 40,why? in several countries are changing gookepersall the players
    are playing well, because they have qualite in this position, the name is ETHAN HORVAT
    and is playing every week,and the others young Jesse González,,the real madrid golkeaper
    Keilor Navas is 25.from Costa Rica and is marvelous.
    a don not try to said the olds can play,but is necesary a change, the strong man in the net
    is just a opinion….whit Ethan Horvat and Jesse Gonzalez and sean jonson , Usamnet is going tobe in Russia in world soccer,but use the young talent

  8. Start at the top. The man who has consistently made questionable contract calls during his tenure has to go. None other than: Sunil Gulati

    • Barry I agree. Thing is to get rid of a President of USSoccer you have to have a challenger during the next USSoccer election and then the challenger has to win. Its not a popular vote and most of the voters are USSoccer or MLS old timers. Its like the Democratic Primaries you gotta have the super delegates to win. Here’s a link to USSoccer BOD and Governance website:

  9. Honduras has CR on the road and MX at home. Panama has US on the road and CR at home. GD: Panama +2, US +1, Honduras -7.
    If MX and CR play full strength then things should work out, but non of us are delusional enough to think MX and CR wouldn’t try to stick it to the US when they can. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Panama or Honduras get results in these games given the situation. Say each gets 4 pts in the next round. That means we need a win at home and draw in T&T just to keep 4th place. T&T is a crucial match now and really a must win if we want to do it without help from MX and CR who I don’t for a second think will play their best at this point.
    Who here on this board has faith in this team to get all six points next round? Who here has faith that this team absolutely gets 4 points next round? I say we’re a 50/50 chance right now making it to Russia based on the way this team is playing and the tactics and lineups/callups made by BA.
    JK haters can blame him all they want for the first round but MX at home and CR on the road are our 2nd and 3rd toughest matches in the Hex. Its becoming clearly that our players are very much a problem along with bad tactics/formations. JK wasn’t the big problem many fans made him out to be and it needs to be said. He got loads of sh-t for playing FJ at LB but it appears that was the right decision all along. Taken over 14-15 matches now who gets more out of the team, JK or BA? JK runs away with it. Could you imagine the team that played CR and Honduras this window playing in our WC group in 2014 or making Copa America semis. Delusional if you say yes. Remember Pulisic was barely emerging pre Copa and just before first Hex round of qualifying and we didn’t really want to put to much pressure on him at the time. Just saying all those calling for JK to get fired while simultaneously pushing for BA to get hired need to rethink that now, it was not a good move for USSoccer.
    Lot of us who followed USSoccer since the 90s or earlier called it out then. Route 1 football, no linking, over the top balls to no one, hoof it out of the back, predictable 442 lineups, backs who never overlap or get forward. BA didn’t change the way he coaches his teams and that was clear from the way the Galaxy played for the last 10 years.
    Whether we qualify or not big changes need to be made to the coaching staff and US Soccer higher ups. T&T or the playoff matches needs to BA last game either way. He has not earned to right to coach this squad at the WC. Gulati needs to be held accountable for making what now seems like a knee jerk reaction after MX and CR qualifiers and failing to have a suitable replacement lineuped up, BA obviously wasn’t it. Failure to call up Chandler when you’re primary RB is still injured is fireable in and of itself IMO and we need answers other than the lame excuse that two years ago he never looked good for the US or the more subjective excuse of lack or passion/heart.
    Players need to be held accountable too after qualifying. Bradley should be stripped of his captaincy, plain and simple. No results find a new field general. Some of these players don’t deserve to be on the plane to Russia if we make it either. Guzan, Zusi, Beasley, Altidore, Nagbe, Bedoya, Villafana, Johnson, Gonzolez, damn I even have to write his name but f–king Wondo was on this roster too, all should have to prove their spot on the plane. Btw Altidore has zero goals in the Hex so far, 0.0.
    Ultimately, I can’t wait till this cycle ends whether that’s next month or after the WC to blow up this squad of veterans and bring in the youth.
    Rant over thanks for reading.

    • A couple of things. If we beat Panama at home, they can get only 3 points, so then a draw at T&T would probably be good enough. I can’t see Honduras getting more than 4 points in their last 2 games and that would leave US and Honduras tied on points, one ahead of Panama and we would be ahead of Honduras on goal differential. So, beating Panama is the key. As for the next coach, I think maybe the coach for the Atlanta MLS team, Gerardo Martino, should be considered. He has them doing very well for an expansion team, obviously knows US players now, and has coached at Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Check out his bio in Wikipedia. He favors high pressing, attacking football based on quick passing and playing from the back. He has quite a resume.

      • Gary, Its funny you mentioned Martino. I’m an Atlanta fan. I was wondering what really drew him to taking the job when he could have gone to many more prestigious clubs instead of a MLS expansion team. The more I thought about it the more I came to think that Martino has a longer vision of eventually becoming the US manager and he took the job in MLS to learn more about the US pool and the learn more about what makes the US soccer player tick so he knows how to better solve certain problems and motivate the players. Since he doesn’t speak English all that well it would also give him time to learn more of the language and culture before taking the US job. I think its very possible he’s aware of some of youth talents some of which he would have seen at the Copa as Argentina’s manager. One thing we do struggle with in Atlanta is since we play it out of the back when our CBs or DMs turn the ball over it really hurts us and I suspect that same issue could be a problem with the US given our mediocre technical abilities, but of course I still prefer us playing out the back and not hoofing it up field just need to find the right CBs and DMs IMO. Also, to play Martino’s style we would need FWs and AMs who really press hard and high with lots of energy. We have some like Wood and Pulisic who play that way for club but others not so much.
        Completely agree on Martino and think he’s already working towards it IMO, whether US Soccer comes calling is another story. Others, maybe Pete Vermes if they have to pick a US guy, but I would again prefer a outsider to the US system to bring new ideas and a new approach. Using a US Soccer insider like BA has shown how MLS centric US Soccer really wants the national team to be and thats insane given MLS level of play compared to European leagues, and yes MLS supporters will flame me for saying it even though I support MLS and Atlanta but its just the truth. MLS has gotten better but we still can’t even advance routinely to the final of our continent’s club cup.

  10. Is it time for us to try a new formation out? In the current 4-4-2 we lack the cutting edge to create goalscoring opps and are making major errors in defense every game.

    Our midfield is not putting any pressure on the opposition and are strugglig to make 2-3 passes to get out of pressure. Its been reallly ugly play all around since the Mexico qualifyer.


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