The Hex Begins With Disappointing 2-1 Loss For US

There are those times when it seems everything possible can work against you to turn the average day into a complete and utter failure. The circumstances surrounding the United States’ opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final Round of Qualifying campaign fit that bill completely.

They had to start out on the road, in probably the most daunting environment they will face. Honduras declared Wednesday a National Holiday in order to allow their citizens to prepare for this match against these Gringos from the North.

They then had to face temperatures in the 90′s. The starting XI was filled with players plying their trade in Europe or the US - not a single player from Liga MX where things stay much milder in the Winter.

With the Hex starting in February, shoved in the middle of the European calendar, the players abroad didn’t come into Camp until Monday - they only had two days together before the match at Estadio Olimpico.

And finally, they were without their most recognizable figure. Landon Donovan had taken the entire winter off from soccer, and made it clear he was out for at least the February match in San Pedro Sula.

Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, from

Of course, the best often overcome these types of conspiring difficulties. On Wednesday, that was not the case. New England Revolution forward Jerry Bengtson popped home a ball just outside the six after a defensive lapse by the US, and the Catrachos opened play with a 2-1 victory.

Things looked up for the Americans just after the half-hour mark. Jermaine Jones played a looping through ball to Clint Dempsey, who volleyed the ball past Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares. That 1-0 lead was short-lived though, as left back Juan Carlos Garcia executed a wondrous overhead kick to level the score for Honduras.

The US backline looked shaky throughout the match, due to the fact that it was the first match where Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez manned the center of defense together. Gonzalez is certainly the future of the US backline, and maybe this introduction was a year late. Ah, another thing that conspired against the US - Gonzalez’ freak injury while in Germany (caused by his US backline mate Tim Chandler) likely postponed his ascendancy for a year.

That final goal from Bengtson with just over 10 minutes to play exposed the inexperience of the defensive pairing. A ball was played through to Houston Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek-Garcia, who beat both Cameron and Tim Howard to the ball. He was able to slip a pass towards the goal, and Gonzalez reacted too slowly to the situation. Bengtson streaked in to put it in the back of the net from a few feet out.

It will be easy to second-guess much of what Jurgen Klinsmann put out on the pitch today. As I listed above, there are also plenty of excuses why it might not have mattered. All we’re left with are the facts - the US just was not good enough in this match. They lacked the ability to dictate the play. When they did have opportunities to control the match, pressure in the final third snuffed things out, much like it did against Canada in the friendly a week ago.

It will be a long month until the next international weekend. The Americans will face Costa Rica at high altitude in Colorado, and then drop down to Mexico City to face El Tri. Maybe by that time Donovan will reconsider his position with the team. The team should have 3-4 days together to prepare for Costa Rica, and all of the players will be in season. And the weather should be much more temperate.

In other words, the circumstances should not conspire as much against the US. In other words, no more excuses.

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11 Responses to The Hex Begins With Disappointing 2-1 Loss For US

  1. EPLNFL says:

    Terrible start. Yes a lot of things where stacked against the US but the mistakes and defensive errors where costly.

    Even with things stacked against them a draw on the road could and should of been the result. This team is still not playing up to its potential.

  2. The original Tom says:

    At least it was a fairly played and watchable game, although the pitch was a little slow (thick or long grass?). You are allowed several slip ups in CONCAF qualifying, hopefully we don’t slip too many more times. But we are not very good at this point. Need Donovan?

  3. Chris Webb says:

    It looks pretty dour right now but I think the results of the other two matches should give the US hope.

    Yes, they are at the bottom of the table. However, whenever you lose a match in a group setting, the best possible scenario is for the other teams to draw, and that’s exactly what happened last night.

    So, things aren’t as bleak as they seem. This could get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.

    Not much evidence on my side at the moment, but they will struggle through..

  4. David says:

    An awful start for the U.S. but there still is a long ways to go. The other matches ending in draws were the best possible scenario for the U.S. As for the game, defending was horrible. Both goals happened due to ball watching. I think Klinsmann made errors with the subs. I feel Torres should have been a sub. He could have played an attacking mid role and pushed Jermaine Jones back for Danny Williams. I really don’t think Donovan would have made a difference had he been available. Weather seemed to be a factor more then we realize. The players looked gassed after the first 30 minutes or so. The U.S. need to get 3 points at home against Costa Rica looking forward.

  5. Pio Poma says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much, the U.S will make the WC. I am more concerned with the development of the back 4 and another attacker like Agudelo to round out the team heading into the WC.

  6. Charles says:

    LD where are you ?

    That team looked terrible. Especially compared to the rest of the teams in the HEX.

    Everyone, including me, thinks they will make it, but there is a chance of no if they don’t play quite a bit better.

  7. Pio Poma says:

    I really doubt it, you think Panama, Costa rica and Jamaica can finish ahead of the U.S? even if the U.S finishes 4th they will still get a chance to qualify by beating New Zealand probably. They will end in the top 3 which is the goal right now.

    • Charles says:

      Jamaica looked very dangerous against a good Mexican team. Are they as good overall, no, but it is not beyond belief that they could counter and steal wins against a US team playing like they did.

  8. Steve says:

    I know that the 2 goals against were defensive mistakes but tell me how with such poor possession in the midfield and lack of quality in the final 3rd, how playing 90% of the game in a defensive tactic would translate into anything else? When is the USA going to do a better job of just holding onto the ball?

    • Earl Reed says:

      It will take a coach to look at his tactic and decide he needs a possessor at the base of that midfield, rather than a purely defensive specialist. This country seems hellbent on developing guys who fit the latter mold, when the countries with success are bringing forward players who can dictate the tempo.

    • Pio Poma says:

      You have to also understand the difference between playing on the road than at home. In soccer home field plays a bigger role than any sport i know. The same two teams can play tomorrow in the U.S and it would be a completely different game.

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