FRISCO, Texas –It was a very ugly win, but a win nonetheless.
As predicted, the United States Men’s Soccer Team pulled out a 2-1 win over Honduras in their first match of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the confederation’s main tournament.
Early in the match, Honduras put a lot of pressure on the United States and their goalkeeper Brad Guzan, 30-year-old with rumors circulating of leaving Aston Villa for a better chance of starting. Honduras had multiple golden chances early in the match as the U.S. weren’t going forward and playing aggressive. After a couple fantastic saves by Guzan – three corners, two free kicks, and some missed chances in the first six minutes for Los Catrachos – the Yanks started to go forward and started getting their offense in it’s normal rhythm. The USMNT got a few free kicks and had a couple runs that did not turn into more due to an offside call. Honduras continued to get their offense in as well after the U.S.’ chances, but then an offside on Honduras in the 22nd minute gave the U.S. possession back, which led to a U.S. corner a couple minutes later. DeAndre Yedlin, who has rumors of being loaned (mostly to Norwich City, who was promoted to the Premier League this past season, and a few teams in England’s number two league, the English Football Championship), was up to take the corner rather than the normal Michael Bradley, but Bradley was right next to him. Yedlin gave Bradley the short pass and Bradley crossed it in where it went pass all the U.S. attackers, but Anthony Lozano, the 22-year-old forward with sixteen caps and five goals as a member of Los Catrachos, cleared the ball short and Jozy Altidore, one of the two U.S. strikers, ran from out of bounds to get the ball and took a beautiful ground shot which is saved incredibly by the Honduran keeper, Donis Escober, with his leg, but it goes right to Clint Dempsey, the other U.S. striker and former captain, who heads it in from around six yards out to make it 1-0 the Stars and Stripes.
Only a few minutes later, the U.S. had another golden chance, Fabian Johnson sent a brilliant ball to Yedlin, who was now 1-on-1 with keeper Donis Escober. This was Yedlin’s chance to get his first international goal. The keeper came off his line to contest the shot and saved it impressively, and it went for a USMNT corner. Yedlin’s chance to get his first goal for country was gone. Ten minutes later, Anthony Lozano of Honduras took a right footer from outside the box that went over the bar. Later that minute, Alfredo Mejia did a shot from further which was way further off, and Andy Najar attempted a couple shots that were similar to Lozano’s to end the half. Although Honduras outplayed them, the U.S. still led through 45 minutes and that’s all that mattered.
To start the second half, the U.S. went forward and they looked good in their offense to start, including getting a free kick and a corner. The Hondurans did the same along with an extra corner and free kick. Three substitutions finally came, with the U.S. finally subbing out Altidore, who had a couple bright spots, mainly his shot that led to Dempsey’s goal, but outside of that was pitiful, and Timothy Chandler, who had a terrible game at right back. Honduras subbed out Andy Najar, one of their key players, for Romell Quioto. A foul happened a minute after the last couple subs to the left of the box and the Yanks had a free kick near the box. Bradley took the free kick and from about three yards away, Dempsey got on the end of the ball and headed it down John Brooks-esque for his second goal.
Just like that, Honduras started to get aggressive again to try to get back in the game, and only four minutes later, a great ball from right back Wilmer Crisanto, between Fabian Johnson and Gyasi Zardes, got to Carlos Discua. Ventura Alvarado shows his typical terrible positioning and Discua completely destroys him (which let’s be honest, who wasn’t destroying Alvarado?) and, from the right side of the goal, fires a beautiful left-footed rocket by Guzan to shorten the Yanks’ lead to one.
The rest of the match was filled with subs, fouls, and near misses (most of the near misses on Honduras’ side). Honduras threatened at the end when Graham Zusi (the last U.S. sub, in for Gyasi Zardes) passed backwards, instead of going forward, to Yedlin, who made a bad touch and lost the ball to Lozano, which Yedlin followed up by fouling Lozano. This was the only big mistake by the Sporting KC star and the main mistake by the Tottenham Hotspur right back. The free kick for Honduras, taken by Bryan Acosta, was blocked by the U.S. wall and the whistle was blown immediately.
After One Game:
The United States now leads Group A. Their remaining matches in the Group Stage are against Haiti in Foxborough, MA and Panama at Sporting Park here in Kansas City. The United States winning the Gold Cup title will give them a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, which is the second biggest tournament for country, behind, of course, the FIFA World Cup.
- Awful defense, must be improved for the Haiti matches, preferably with the benching of Ventura Alvarado and Timothy Chandler for Omar Gonzalez and Brad Evans.
- Very good play from Brad Guzan, Fabian Johnson, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey.
- Jozy Altidore must assert himself more and lower his amount of turnovers and blown chances.
- DeAndre Yedlin must move forward and attack more to set up his teammates for goals.
- Aron Johannsson should be the No. 3 forward instead of Chris Wondolowski, and it’s not Wondo’s fault, but more because how good Johannsson is.
- Gyasi Zardes needs to be an attacker, how Jurgen had him play is not good. If he’s not going to attack, he shouldn’t play.
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