U.S. Beats Honduras, Nears World Cup Bid
Early on, Honduras was clearly the more threatening side. They effectively frustrated the U.S. side, disrupting possession and preventing the Americans from finding the same rhythm they previously found against Panama, Jamaica, and even Germany. The upgrade in competition certainly showed, as the U.S. struggled to create offensively for much of the game.
The tides eventually did change, as the U.S. started to dictate its own tempo to the game around the hour mark. The effort paid off, as the U.S. combined for yet another beautifully created goal for Jozy Altidore, his 4th straight goal in four qualifying matches, tying the consecutive scoring record made by six other Americans. The lone goal proved to be enough, as the American squad successfully held on to stay atop the hexagonal group with 13 points – 2 more than second place Costa Rica and five more than Mexico.
This win marks nine points out of nine possible in three summer qualifying matches, an extremely important result considering that the US will play both Costa Rica and Mexico in September with many of its key players in danger of yellow card suspension. Both nations pose considerable threats, although Mexico, normally the other CONCACAF powerhouse, has been struggling to find winning results. Despite their place atop the table, there are still four games left in the qualifying year, and the U.S. cannot afford to be complacent if they want to secure qualification and join Japan, Iran, Australia, and South Korea in Brazil.
After facing severe criticism and doubt in head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s coaching acumen after the disappointing loss in Honduras to start the qualifying round, the U.S. did exceptionally well to overcome their adversity quickly and effectively, making a trip to Brazil almost a sure thing.
These last three matches were the only qualifying matches of the summer, but there is still plenty of USMNT action to catch this summer. July marks the beginning of the Gold Cup, and while it is a mostly insignificant tournament between the CONCACAF member nations, it will be an opportunity for many fringe players to make a name for themselves heading into the next stretch of qualifiers in September. The 35-man roster has been released and includes Landon Donovan, who will finally wear the stars and stripes after being left out of the qualifying roster. Other players to watch include Jack McInerney (who sits at the top of the scoring charts in the MLS at only 20 years of age) and Stuart Holden, who will have an excellent opportunity to find quality playing time after missing almost two years of action due to devastating injuries.
As for the rest of this qualifying roster, keep a look out for Jozy Altidore, who has significantly increased his already rising European stock with these four consecutive goals. Many teams have been reported to be interested in the AZ Alkmaar man, notably Lazio and Jermaine Jones’s Shalke 04, and a lucrative move to a bigger club and league certainly looks to be in the works for the much improved youngster. A move of this caliber bodes well for the US, because an in-form Jozy Altidore at a big European club will translate excellently in Brazil next year.
Reach Staff Writer Zaki Khan here.