Friday, July 24, 2009

US Advance Over Honduras; Face Nemesis Mexico Sunday

"B" squad, "C" squad...the United States keeps finding ways to win.

Of course this is CONCACAF, so perhaps that should really be the expectation. The Americans once again were slow to begin the match, and through about 35-40 minutes the run of play was essentially even, with each side having spurts of better possession. But the Americans finished the first half with a barrage of opportunties. Stuart Holden, once again the best player for the US, rifled yet another shot from distance that was tipped over by Escober, the Honduran keeper. Moments later, Brian Ching turned in the box and struck a shot cleanly with his left foot; it looked destined for the net, but was tipped by the recovering defender and grazed the top of the crossbar. Finally, Clarence Goodson, playing for the injured Jimmy Conrad, hammered home a Holden corner to give the Americans the advantage heading to the locker room.

In the second half the United States mostly dominated the play, but were unable to seize a decisive two goal advantage. Honduras was thus able to press for an equalizer at the end, and only failed to do so because Troy Perkins made a crucial save against Carlos Costly. With Honduras in all-out attack mode, the United States finally found the second goal in the eighty-ninth minute when a clever backheel from Ching played Holden in, and Holden found Kenny Cooper for an easy tap-in.

Overall, it was probably the most complete performance the Americans have had in the tournament. That's a particularly impressive fact given that the overall strength of the squad has actually been lessened since the group stage.

Jeff Carlisle compliments a workmanlike performance. Jamie Trecker takes a solid victory as an opportunity to come up with lots of negative things to say. Highlights: Ching and Beckerman had "off nights," Heaps "lumbered around the back line," Pause and Rogers are "lagging badly." Marshall and Heaps are "slow but sensible." Although that last one was a compliment, I guess. Much like Holden, perhaps the best player on the pitch, put in "not a virtouso performance." Not all of those criticisms are wrong of course, especially about Rogers and particularly Pause. But still. Trecker also described how the game was "not attractive" and other than the goals there was "little of note." He understands he's watching the US "C" team and not Brazil, correct?

Next up, Mexico. Who cares if it's not the top rosters. Get out the American flags. Sunday at 3 EST.

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