Rest assured, the U.S. crew that settled for a listless 0-0 draw with Canada on Tuesday night is not the group that will face Honduras in the World Cup qualifier next week. Even if Juergen Klinsmann keeps his promise of taking along a handful of January campers to San Pedro Sula, few will step onto the field against the Catrachos.
Klinsi will need warm bodies to fill out the travel roster and 18-man game-day list. But he couldn’t have been encouraged by the display against Canada. The energy level was low, the hunger lacking, and no one was capable of changing the game. Individual attacking limitations were exposed and Canada’s stout resistance was hardly tested.
With the addition of Benny Feilhaber, the Americans showed improvement in the second half but were still missing the killer pass in the final third and one-on-one brilliance. Possession is a wonderful thing, unless you don’t do anything with it.
Omar Gonzalez, on the spot to earn a big-boy assignment after repeated snubs, was solid at center back and appeared to have found his way into the elite player pool.
For the most part, though, this was a performance by off-Broadway actors. More specifically, it was a sour night for MLS, which employed the entire U.S. lineup and several Canadian starters. Klinsmann had three weeks to prepare his players; he even called them in a week early for fitness purposes. The result was disappointing.
So now we turn our attention to seat assignments on the charter to Honduras next week. I’ll take a quick stab at it:
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson.
Defenders: Geoff Cameron, Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, Timothy Chandler, Edgar Castillo, Michael Parkhurst, Omar Gonzalez. (Steve Cherundolo and Fabian Johnson are ailing.)
Midfielders: Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan, Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber, Kyle Beckerman. (Daniel Williams has not been playing regularly for Hoffenheim and might be left behind for this one.)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Herculez Gomez, Joe Corona. (Landon Donovan is on indefinite leave of absence. Terrence Boyd has been on winter break.)
*Dwayne De Rosario has still got it. Showing no ill-effects of the knee injury that canceled out much of his autumn, DeRo was dangerous and clever. Canada was not good, but he was the best player on the field for either side. D.C. United supporters were also smiling about Dejan Jakovic‘s quality performance in the middle of Canada’s backline.
*We already knew BBVA Compass Stadium was a lovely venue — but it looked even better with a field of proper width. (Hi, Dom.)
*Unnecessary ESPN Graphic of the Night: Telling us the pretty song we were listening to before the match was called “O Canada” and it is, in fact, the national anthem of our northern neighbors.
*Announced attendance was 11,737. The USA women drew 15,643 in Houston last month for a China friendly. (In fairness, the women were at full strength on a gold medal tour and facing a more compelling opponent. And they score goals.)
*Former USA international Jay DeMerit summed up the night on Twitter: