Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead before halftime the United States Men’s National Team left Honduras with a loss and no points in the first World Cup qualifying match. Los Catrachos did not allow the U.S. to lead long and delivered the first loss the U.S. had ever suffered in Honduras during World Cup qualifying. Clint Dempsey put the U.S. up but a spectacular bicycle kick goal from Juan Carlos Garcia nodded it at 1 before halftime. Jerry Bengtson scored the second goal for Honduras and the U.S. were never able to equalize.
The Honduras squat came out with high pressure feeding off a frenzied crowd. The U.S. was sitting back and leaving the back line low. The back included Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, and Timmy Chandler. Gonzalez and Chandler are now cap tied to the United States, but it left veteran leadership on the bench. Tim Howard, today’s captain, was forced to make a few good saves. The best early chance was called back for offside as only Cameron and Howard stood in the way of three attackers.
As the game settled in neither team had many chances and the crowd began to fade. Dempsey would put the U.S. ahead by getting on the end of a Jermaine Jones pass and sending a lofted ball into the back of the net.
The crowd was back into the match four minutes later after an amazing finish by Juan Carlos Garcia. A looping cross was chested down and some U.S. players were caught watching as the ball was in the box. The finish was great.
We mentioned in our preview that communication and mental focus would be key as the play went to the second half tied at one. Unfortunately there were some let downs as Chandler looked gassed early. The back line struggled to keep their shape and that was evident on the game winning goal. Prior to the second goal by Honduras, Bengtson was whistled correctly for an offside play in the 56th minute but put it in the net anyway. The winner came as Cameron saw the ball get behind him and a rushing Howard lost the race to Oscar Boniek Garcia. Bengtson put it home beating Gonzalez to the ball.
Graham Zusi, Sacha Kljestan, and Maurice Edu came on as second half substitutes for the United States, but were all used prior to the goal. It felt like Jurgen Klinsmann was playing for the tie with these moves. Unfortunately a break down in communications and perhaps tired legs sends the U.S. home without any points to show for it.
The next match in qualifying for the United States will be played in Colorado on March 22nd against Costa Rica.