By Kevin Koczwara
Honduras has not been an easy place to play in this round of the CONCACAF qualifying, to say the least. No body has beaten the war torn country at Francisco Morazan so far, and the Honduras team hadn’t lost at home in 17 consecutive matches. And The United States National team looked to be dead in the water early on, giving away a free kick outside the box lead to a Honduras goal and a 1-0 lead. The “Yanks” (I hate that nickname and will not use it ever again) collected themselves and ended the highly entertaining game with a 3-2 victory.
Giving up an early goal is a place the United Stats has been before. In fact the U.S. National team has made it a habit to fall behind early on in matches. They have been behind 6 out of their last 10 matches. Giving up an early goal has become a calling card of theirs in a way. It is a good thing that the team has learned to rebound from early deficits, but the sign of a true world power is one that doesn’t have to come from behind, a team that controls play, dominates possession and puts the ball in the back of the net without letting any in their own.
The United States need to start to become a team that can control a game from start to finish while keeping an opponent on its back like a hapless turtle. The United States needs to start showing positive signs going into next years World Cup. The squad needs to mature and start playing real football, rather than the kick and chase style they implement a lot of times now.
The game in Honduras was big step for the squad, it showed that they could win in Hostile environments. The World Cup will be one giant hostile environment. Assuming that Americans jump on the bandwagon in a HUGE way in the next year, the US squad will have fewer supporters than most countries competing. So, the United States needs to start to adapt, and become adept in fighting off large crowds, home field environments, and surges from other squads.
Hopefully tonight we will see a determined and controlled US side control the play of the game against Costa Rica. It won’t be easy as Costa Rica is fighting for the third spot in CONCACAF and an automatic bid to the World Cup. If Costa Rica loses and Honduras wins, then they will have to play the fifth seeded team from South America–could be Uruguay, Argentina or Peru, not any teams that a CONCACAF team would want to face for qualification.
Connor Casey May Have Earned A Spot
I must admit it was quite ballsy of Bob Bradley to go with the older, and a tad bit slower Connor Casey over the young and fit Jozy Altidore in the match against Honduras. But Bradley was spot on with his pick.
Casey, a big bruising forward, made his presence be known on both his goals. He attacked a 50-50 ball for the game tying goal. He followed that goal up by making a perfect run in space to receive a well place ball from Landon Donovan, and put in the second goal of the match. He made the most of his chances, and stood his ground throughout the match. He fit into the game plan perfectly.
Casey isn’t the most skilled or quickest forward that the US has, but he had made the most of his chances. He is much better than Brian Ching (I am not sure to as why he gets so much playing time, he is terrible in international matches), and is more experienced than Altidore. If he can stay healthy, and in form he will be a nice addition to the US squad in South Africa. I hope he can take over Brian Ching’s spot as the hold-up striker because Ching is too slow, and not skilled enough for the international game. Just because he excels in MLS does not mean he translates to international play. Some players fit perfectly into international play and some don’t. It is the nature of the beast.
His horrific car crash has left me speechless. But I don’t know what happened, and that is the worst of it. Was he driving? Was he responsible for vehicular homicide? What went on there? And will he ever be fit to play again? Will he be able to walk right?
Davies was a bright spot for the American squad. He was joyful in the way he played–always playing to his highest level but always with a smile. He is the perfect compliment to Jozy Altidore, both are young, and still developing. Davies gave Altiroe’s physical presence and a partner in crime. He brought the pace and opened up space on the field for his teammates. Altidore and Davies had even crafted a dance for their goal celebrations.
This is a major hit to the American squad. Davies was one of the few players on the squad to be receiving regular playing time for a top-flight club in a competitive league–Ligue 1 (French Top-Flight) outfit Sochaux. He was making progress, and becoming a better player each game. He was turning into a true striker in international football, and his trademark smile and dance will surely be missed while he is out for 6 to 12 months.
Let’s just hope all is better, and that Davies can recuperate and live a healthy life again.
Kevin Koczwara is the editor of The Soccer Guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow The Soccer Guys on Twitter @TheSoccerGuys. Follow Kevin @kkoczwara. Check out his other blog, Feel Da Beat, on all things pop-culture and news.