Three things we learned from USMNT - Honduras
Super-sub Jordan Siebatcheu delivered a match-winning moment and claim to the striker’s role on the day he was cup-tied to the USMNT as the Yanks overcame a poor performance to beat Honduras 1-0 in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinal on Thursday.
Gregg Berhalter got his team to his first final with the win, and the Yanks will meet Mexico on Sunday for silverware after Tata Martino’s El Tri outlasted Costa Rica in penalties through a terrific GuilIermo Ochoa save.
[ MORE: USMNT player ratings versus Honduras ]
John Brooks and Weston McKennie helped set up Siebatcheu’s goal on a day Honduras frustrated and -- at times -- out-played a heavily-favored USMNT.
The midfield around McKennie was quiet, the young bucks occasionally intimidated, and most of the gents looked rusty at best.
But they won. Bring on Sunday.
Three things we learned from USMNT - Honduras
1. Welcome to CONCACAF, young ones: Christian Pulisic has been here before and is fouled plenty in the Premier League, but the amount of fouls on Sergino Dest and Giovanni Reyna might’ve made both wonder what in the world was going on. But that’s the reputation of Honduras, and both will wake up plenty sore after their first proper and serious CONCACAF match at the senior level. Good experience, especially as they got an up-close look at the time-wasting of a confederation underdog away from home.
2. Whole squad unnerved: Here’s the thing, though -- all of Honduras’ play-acting, hard-fouling, and stretcher-requesting seemed to unnerve the USMNT, who lost their patience in the final third and in the build-up. The center backs and deep-lying mids all had bad giveaways. Lletget went playground futsal tricks with a free kick and sprung a counter, and that was another sign that things were messed up as the LA Galaxy man has been quite good in a U.S. jersey. One thing’s for sure: Mexico and maybe Costa Rica would’ve won this one.
3. Stars, Siebatcheu step up to deliver winner: John Brooks is a borderline elite passer of the ball as a center back and his entry pass to Weston McKennie on the goal was as good as the Juventus’ man’s header into the channel. Brenden Aaronson did well to lay off the ball and Young Boys striker Siebatcheu proved an inspired sub with his diving header finish to save the USMNT after an absolutely pitiful 15 minutes and, if we’re honest, hour-plus of nothing.
Man of the Match: John Brooks
The Wolfsburg center back had a terrible giveaway and was a bit too adventurous with the ball, but he also stepped up early and often when the young Yanks came out of the gates with very little. He’s at-worst the second most important player in the pool, he has been for some time, and those who tried to write him off for the latest flash-in-the-pan should raise their hand.
USMNT v Honduras recap
Giovanni Reyna looked refreshed early, the Borussia Dortmund winger getting a shot off in the seventh minute.
Los Catrachos delivered their message early, too, and a Jackson Yueill rescue tackle saved a terrific chance and delivered an eighth-minute corner to the visitors.
Reyna was back at it in the 11th minute, dribbling before hitting a terrific outside of the boot pass to release Pulisic. The Chelsea man won a corner, but Weston McKennie headed the service over the goal.
Pulisic scooped a pass to Lletget deep in the box and Sargent ran into space for the cutback, but a pair of shots were blocked leading to a corner and a second when Dest saw shot blocked.
Then came a proper scrap in the 27th minute after Steffen made a huge error and Sargent a huge goal line clearance that cued up a Honduran dive in the box and a shoving match.
Sargent then saw a solid header saved by Luis Lopez, who then closed his legs in time to stop a Pulisic nutmeg bid.
Anthony Lozano then showed skill to win 50:50 battles with Brooks and Antonee Robinson, but Mark McKenzie cut out the Honduran’s cross.
Honduras broke on the counter again off a bad Brooks pass in the visitors’ end, and McKenzie did not bail out his center back partner as a cross went absent receiver to keep it 0-0 into stoppage time.
[ MORE: Nations League schedule, scores, stats ]
The second half began with Reyna winning a free kick that was poorly taken by Lletget and led to a Honduras counter, and Dest stepped up his defending from the first half and stymied Los Catrachos.
Steffen then redeemed himself when a delayed offside led to a 1v1 with Lozano and the Man City keeper got big to make a splayed stop.
Elis then drove past Dest and blazed a shot over the bar in the 65th.
Yueill then took his turn to make a bad giveaway but Brooks and Co. were in place to neutralize the threat.
Siebatcheu bailed out the Yanks after two good plays from U.S. veterans Brooks and McKennie, the Yanks delivering on a day that Christian Pulisic was mugged and marked into the shadows.