Final thoughts from Honduras

February 6, 2013

*Look on the bright side, American fans. The U.S. team didn’t have the worst day in CONCACAF. Mexico, at Azteca, played a 0-0 draw with Jamaica, which figured to be the weakest side in the hexagonal. The Americans scored at Estadio Olimpico; the Mexicans failed to score at Azteca. Fans turned on El Tri in the second half, showering it with boos. Mexico’s next qualifier is in San Pedro Sula against first-place Honduras.

*Landon Donovan is sorely missed in the U.S. lineup. Who else in the player pool accelerates in the open field, runs at defenders and — oh, by the way — is a clinical finisher? The Americans lacked a dynamic presence in Honduras. That said, he is of little use to Juergen Klinsmann if his heart and mind aren’t into it. The earliest, if ever, we see him again is the three qualifiers in June.

*The lineup included four players who were born in Germany and learned the game in Germany: Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Jermaine Jones and Daniel Williams. (Terrence Boyd is another but wasn’t called for this one.) While Klinsmann’s fondness for Germans explains a lot, it makes you wonder about domestic player development, no?

*None of the three Mexican-based players appeared in this Central American qualifier. When he turned to the bench, Klinsmann summoned Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan and Graham Zusi. Weather doesn’t dictate personnel decisions, but the experienced Jose Torres or Herculez Gomez might have helped — Torres more so than Gomez in a tie game with the U.S. midfield laboring to sustain possession.

*Say what you want about CONCACAF rivals, but Honduras is a likable side. The Catrachos enjoy going forward and don’t turn to negative tactics. Of course, the approach at home is quite different than on the road. The supporters, from what I could tell, were mostly well-behaved and respectful. As New York Daily News columnist Filip Bondy pointed out (in jest), Klinsmann could have scored goodwill points in San Pedro Sula by bringing along Jonathan Bornstein, whose late goal against Costa Rica in 2009 propelled Honduras into the third automatic World Cup berth.

*There wasn’t much good news to come out of San Pedro Sula, except maybe this: None of the five U.S. players sitting on yellow cards received a booking, leaving them eligible for the next qualifier.

*Here’s my match report for online and print editions.

*The U.S. delegation was on a charter four hours after the match ended, heading to Miami, where European-bound players will make connections Thursday. They won’t regroup for international duty again until March 18 for the first home qualifier in the hexagonal four days later against Costa Rica in Commerce City, Colo. Playing in the Denver area serves two purposes: chill the Ticos and play at altitude before heading to Mexico City for the March 26 showdown at Azteca. Tickets go on sale Feb. 19. The United States has not lost a home qualifier since 2001 at Washington’s RFK Stadium against Honduras.

*Costa Rica claimed a point at Panama on Bryan Ruiz‘s 84th-minute goal, capping a two-goal comeback for a 2-2 draw. So here’s where things stand after the first of 10 matchdays:

Honduras 3 points, +1 goal difference

Costa Rica 1 point, 0 GD

Jamaica 1 point, 0 GD

Panama 1 point, 0 GD

Mexico 1 point, 0 GD

United States 0 points, -1 GD

March 22 matches: Costa Rica at USA, Mexico at Honduras, Panama at Jamaica

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Matt Bonesteel · February 6, 2013

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