So, that happened. The United States dropped a chance to get off to a really strong start in World Cup Qualifying last night, squandering a first-half lead to get dropped 2-1 by Honduras. Thanks to a pair of draws in the other games, the Yanks aren't rooted in last place too badly, but it was still pretty awful to see Los Catrachos come back and win, even in a tough road qualifier at San Pedro Sula.
Of course, for New England Revolution fans, the loss was a little bittersweet. On the one hand, most of us are USA supporters, and losses suck. On the other hand, we got to see Jerry Bengtson score a quintessential poacher's goal and earn his national team a win. Hey, when he's having trouble scoring for the Revs, it's nice to at least see him scoring, right?
Then he went off injured. He was stretchered off the field, and it looked bad. Never fear, however; it wasn't!
Bengtson update: appears to be no cause for concern. Due into Boston tonight, will join #NERevs at training Fri & travel to Tucson w/ team— NE Revolution (@NERevolution) February 7, 2013
With that out of the way, here's a couple of things I took away from last night's debacle:
The whole performance was flat - I think that can go without saying. Even the usual up-tempo energy guys were pretty lackluster, with Jermaine Jones having a confusingly low-key day and Michael Bradley looking, at times, like he wasn't all the way there. It just felt as though the Yanks had their minds elsewhere, but the pitch conditions and extreme heat could have contributed to that.
That back line was just awful - I don't know what happened, but no one on that back line was good. Omar Gonzalez was slow and at least partially responsible for both goals, Geoff Cameron was slow, and both Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler had moments where they were switched off and had poor giveaways. Especially with the fullbacks, I'm used to seeing better, and it needs to improve fast for both the guys in the middle.
Danny Williams had a surprisingly poor game - Williams is pretty savvy on the ball when he's in the middle, and it looks like he's caught Klinsmann's eye as the future at holding midfield in the US team. That said, if he keeps disappearing in matches the way he did last night, he won't have that job for long. Williams needs to be able to mix it up in these rough games, and he was subbed out for Maurice Edu because he wasn't doing that.
The second-half midfield was much better than the first - When Edu entered the game, the midfield immediately began enforcing its will on the game. It wasn't enough, but it was both encouraging and puzzling. It makes you wonder what Klinsmann was thinking with his initial midfield choices.
The good takeaway is that Clint was still dangerous - Clint Dempsey was Clint Dempsey, and it was nice to see that Deuce wasn't flat in this match. He scored a great goal and there were stretches where it seemed like he was the only guy on the field who wanted to play. Especially with Donovan missing for an undefined period of time, it's going to be important to see the nation's best player step up and lead by example like that.