I ended up watching this game on delay and had heard previously that the US had performed quite poorly, but having watched the game, it was not a terrible performance. In fact, I thought it was a decent performance with a disappointing outcome. If they can play that possession style in the rest of their away games (and play even better at home) they should qualify comfortably. That consistency is not a given, but the performance has more positives than the result. Their biggest concern will be that they did not create many chances, but they were never pinned in their own half either.
The US started defending deep and for the most part contained Honduras. The US grew in the game and took the lead in the 36th minute when Clint Dempsey made a late run and got on the end of a chip from Jermaine Jones and slotted it past the Honduran goalkeeper. Honduras equalized soon after on a wonder goal by Juan Carlos Garcia who unleashed a bicycle kick from a corner.
The second half was a more open game for both sides as the US found more time on the ball, but also were more susceptible to counter-attacks. It was a game that could have gone either way, but Hondruas eventually got the winner when Boniek Garcia poked the ball away from Howard and Cameron and it fell to Jerry Bengtson who beat Omar Gonzalez to the ball to slot it into the open net. The US did not muster much of a response as they seemed drained by the heat in Honduras. Their last chance was a Gonzalez header right before the whistle, which went over the top.
The US moves onto a home game against Costa Rica and a trip to Mexico in March, which makes missing out on this result all the more painful. Here are my player ratings for the game.
He couldn’t stop the bicycle kick, but questions will be asked about the communication on the second goal. He may have called off Cameron, but he didn’t get there and left an open net.
He did not push into attack as much as he has in previous games and was a bit wasteful with his crosses, but it was a solid World Cup qualifying debut.
It was a solid debut until he was caught napping on the second goal. Some may question why he started instead of the experienced Bocanegra, but he still acquitted himself fairly well in tough conditions.
He should have taken charge and just cleared the ball on the second goal, but otherwise played solidly. He did misjudge a ball that led to a half chance. Up until the second goal, it was a good performance, but that mistake was costly.
He was probably the best of the backline players and got forward a couple of times into attack, but rarely made his positions count.
Jones was solid and provided the assist on the Dempsey goal. He performed his duties defensively, and was subbed before the 70 minute mark.
He was quiet, which is perhaps good for a defensive midfielder. His lack of playing time at Hoffenheim hurt his endurance as he was subbed after an hour.
He was the best US player by far. He put forth some tremendous passes and ran the midfield for stretches in the second half.
He got behind the defense once in the first half and set up a good chance for Altidore. He was more prominent in the second half and was attacking players on the wings before being subbed.
He scored a great goal, but did not assert his influence on the game at other points. For the team to be effective, he needs to be more involved.
Altidore had some nice moments and he certainly worked hard, but never got a rhythm connecting with the midfielders or other defenders.
He replaced Williams and helped to protect the backline. His distribution was fine and looked comfortable in his deep lying role.
He was solid on the wing, but never really had an end product going forward. He wasn’t bad, but losing Eddie Johnson’s pace did hurt the squad.
It was underwhelming from Zusi and made the absence of Donovan more obvious. Other than the final corner, he did not provide much for the attack and had a poor touch that ended a good chance when he found space on the wing.