While the United States emerged victorious from their game against Honduras, nearly every fan who watched will let you know, it wasn’t pretty. The USMNT team emerged from an ugly game at Frisco, Texas’ Toyota Park with a 2-1 victory over Honduras, but had to scratch and claw every second to get there. By the end of the game, they looked ready to collapse on the field.
Honduras gave the U.S. everything they could handle, and while Honduras is certainly a good team in CONCACAF, they should not have frustrated the USMNT to that level. The opening game of the 2015 Gold Cup showed everyone just how much the United States needs to grow in order to win the tournament and secure a place in the Confederations Cup.
Although the USMNT looked very mediocre in an overall good result, there were some bright spots — two to be exact. Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley were simply phenomenal. They played off each other, utilizing set piece opportunities, open runs and good positioning to frustrate the Honduran defense.
Dempsey’s goals seemed appropriate, as he comes from Nacogdoches, TX, a suburb roughly three hours south of Dallas. The game against Honduras was a homecoming for Clint, even without the captain’s armband, and he made it known immediately.
As Dempsey and Bradley showcased the lone bright spots, the defense accentuated everything wrong with the national team. Klinsmann made the bold decision of starting Ventura Alvarado over Omar Gonzalez at center back to no avail, as Alvarado often looked overmatched and could not contain the speed of the Honduran forwards. Luckily for Alvarado, he had John Brooks on his left, covering for many of his mistakes. Brooks utilized his massive frame throughout the match to overpower the smaller Hondurans and deflect the ball out of dangerous situations.
While I certainly question Klinsmann’s decisions to start Alvarado over Omar, the real problem for the United States came on the wing. Timmy Chandler has been far outplayed by Brad Evans in three straight games, and at some point we have to throw out the fact that Chandler plays in the Bundesliga and realize how routinely he gets beat by CONCACAF opponents. Defensively, he was only outdone by Gyasi Zardes, who disappeared in the offensive half for most of the game, and was a complete liability on the defensive end. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Zardes is a sub against Haiti on July 10.
Additionally, Fabian Johnson and DeAndre Yedlin just didn’t seem like themselves. Maybe it was the Texas heat, but the two wingers most known by USMNT fans for taking on defenders one on one seemed afraid to do so against Honduras.
There are two changes that desperately need to be made in the starting lineup against Haiti: Mix Diskerud for Gyasi Zardes and Brad Evans for Timmy Chandler. Mix was absolutely devastating during the European friendlies on the wing, while Zardes is invisible every time he plays out there. Use Mix on the wing to start the game and use Zardes as a sub for Jozy Altidore, who obviously isn’t 100 percent fit. With regards to Evans for Chandler, the defense needs a retooling and this seems most obvious. Many would welcome and Omar for Alvarado switch as well but Evans has been phenomenal every time he puts on a national team shirt.
Whatever changes Klinsmann makes, the game against Honduras signals that the United States needs to improve a lot if they have any chance of making the Gold Cup final and securing their place in the 2017 Confederations’ Cup.