Gold Cup: USA vs. Honduras (A look ahead)

USAvsHaiti (ISIphotos.com)  

                                                                         Photo by ISIphotos.com

We are a day away from the U.S. national team's Gold Cup semifinal against Honduras and if you're feeling a bit concerned about the U.S. team being able to beat Honduras for a third time this summer, you have reason for concern.

The Hondurans are coming in off a confidence-building victory against a very tough Canada side, and while the referee helped the Hondurans in the quarterfinals, the Catrachos still did their part to win that game.

Meanwhile, the United States is faced with a roster that seems to lose players every game, either to Europe or, in the case of Jimmy Conrad, to injury. Bob Bradley has stuck with his initial group and has been rewarded with some impressive comebacks and individual performances.

Will the Americans have enough to beat Honduras for a second time this tournament?

It will be up to players like Stuart Holden, Brian Ching, Davy Arnaud and Chad Marshall to step up and pick up the slack for the departures of players such as Charlie Davies, Benny Feilhaber and Steve Cherundolo.

Will Bradley turn to Clarence Goodson to replace Jimmy Conrad (who I don't believe has been ruled out yet but who I can't see playing after that nasty concussion vs. Panama). Michael Parkhurst seems like the more likely replacement in the lineup because you would think Bradley wouldn't call in Parkhurst just to have him on the bench.

Whoever plays will have his hands full against a Honduran attack that had some chances in the first meeting between these teams, and it must be said that shutting down Carlos Costly for two matches is asking a lot. If Chad Marshall can pull that off then he will continue to climb up the centerback depth chart (where I currently rate him just behind Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra and Jay DeMerit).

One player to watch for Honduras is Kansas City Wizards midfielder Roger Espinoza, who has quietly enjoyed a stellar tournament. His growth as a player in the past two years, and performance in the Gold Cup, is just as much a testament to Major League Soccer's ability to develop talent as are the tournaments of players like Holden and Beckerman.

For those of you who didn't see it, here is my preview of the match for ESPN.com.

What do you think of tomorrow night's match? Are you worried about Honduras, or have you grown confident in this young group of Americans? Who do you see stepping up this time? Who are you hoping to see in the Gold Cup final?

Share your thoughts below.

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57 Responses to Gold Cup: USA vs. Honduras (A look ahead)

  1. sean says:

    Honduras gave our best team a good run, but i think we have a young talented squad that can atleast stay with the hondurans for 90 mins, its going to be important that Ching and Arnuad if he gets the start have to take advantage of the chances they get because with the stiff defense of honduras we might not get to many.

  2. Jerry Garcia says:

    FIRST!

  3. cbr says:

    im confident we can beat any team in this tourney with our C team except Mexico. If we make it to the finals we really do need a reinforcement or two

  4. dena says:

    Actually, second

  5. Kartik says:

    Honduras has more good players missing that we do- I love how few people even point out that in that game in Chicago, Rambo and Suazo were missing. (Ives has written well on the region especially for ESPN, but many others in the American press seem to know nothing about the rest of CONCACAF. I personally would be doing a diservice to the readers of my blog if I just followed the US or MLS in a vacuum.)

    Now in this game, Costly is the only European based player Honduras has. Just like us they are going with domestic players. That means no Suazo, Palacios, H. Thomas, M. Figeroua, Rambo, Guevara, etc.

    This is a game between two B teams, or maybe even C teams, so even speculating about what happened in the June game is immaterial because both teams are missing so many players.

  6. Ben says:

    Well, we will be starting these guys: at best 4th choice GK in Perkins; Pause and Heaps are so far down the pecking order it is ridiculous. The only truly ‘B’ choice guys the U.S. will be starting are Pearce and Ching, maybe Holden and Marshall. Everyone else is third choice at best. Thus, the Honduras players are much farther up the relative pecking order than the U.S.

  7. Kevin says:

    Can DC United have Tino back, please? Obviously, Bobo is finished with his services, and we could really use him right about now, with a couple players out to injury.

  8. einar says:

    ben u dont know what your talking about how is perkins 4th? who is third? robles? hahnemann? ridiculous. Pearce, ching, rogers, holden, marshall, and beckerman are real B choices.

  9. Jeremy says:

    anyone know where to catch the game at Dulles airport tomorrow night?

  10. Ben says:

    Hahnemann is the third choice keeper based on experience (it can be argued otherwise, but it is not ‘ridiculous’ to say so); Rogers, based on a lack of experience, not on skill, is still third choice, but he will soon be second behind Landon, so I will kind of give you that one; players ahead of, or that will be ahead, Beckerman: Bradley, Edu, Clark, Feilhaber, and Jones, thus making him third choice. I was never implying anything negative; but, it as a testament of our depth that players like Holden and Beckerman are having to fight to even be considered as ‘B’ team type of guys.

  11. sean says:

    einar, Perkins is very far down the peaking order, dont forget Luis Robles was invited to The confed Cup, not perkins. Beckerman is behind R. Clark , P. Mastereoni, Kljestan Maurice Edu, Feilhaber and michael bradley, so they are not b choices, but i will say stu holden has moved up the pecking order. Pearce was playing for a low level german side, but not there 1st team, there reserves so he isnt very good either.

  12. CT says:

    What are you guys talking about?! Except for when he was unavailable due to injury Ching has been a starter in every qualifying match this WC cycle and he will start on August 12 as well. You might not like it or understand it, but Ching is on the A team.

    Hear me now and listen to me later, barring injury you will not see Altidore and Davies on the same WC qualifying starting XI until
    the US has definitively qualified for SA2010. Who else you got? Cooper? Really?

  13. Fulham Pete says:

    Thirteenth!

  14. Ben says:

    CT, I think you make great points considering Ching, and I will not be surprised to see him get the start in Azteca. But, man, the attack that Bradley essentially lucked into (because your first paragraph is essentially dead on) in the Egypt, Spain, and Brazil games had some serious mojo working. Maybe Ching in Azteca, but at home, it would be nice to actually play attractive and effective soccer and thus start Altidore and Davies.

  15. Ben says:

    By the end of the 2009 calendar year, their will be 5 central midfielders ahead of Beckerman: Bradley, Jermaine Jones, Edu, Feilhaber, and Clark. I have really liked Beckerman in this tourney, but I still think all of those guys are clearly better than him at that position.

  16. Supsam says:

    this will be a tough match as im sure this will be another home game for the Hondurans. I dont know why MExicans keep saying that we win Gold Cups due to the fact that we have home field advantage when in reality its more like by having the gold cup in America, the other teams have less of a home advantage. Thats the way i see it.

    If we are going to win, we will need a hero. I have a feeling a player will step up and have an immense impact for the USA.

  17. Ben says:

    Supsam, if there is a particular player on this U.S. roster that can create a moment of brilliance, it would have to be Stuart Holden.

  18. CT says:

    Ben, all bets are off for SA2010. After another year of seasoning, I could easily see Altidore and Davies being the first choice strikers a year from now. The Confed Cup result has me really fired up for next summer. But then I was really fired up going into the Czech Republic game in 2006, so what do I know.

  19. sean says:

    Ben, I think Tino can create moments of magic to, but there really isnt any flair on this team.

  20. Ben says:

    Sean, Holden is raw, but his two outstanding long range bombs in the Haiti game show me that he has at least some shock and awe factor to his game.

  21. sean says:

    True, but hes more like a Lampard type, Tino’s more of a fancy skill player

  22. nico says:

    Should be a an evenly matched game, but I don’t think Honduras has the players to finish in front of goal. They insist on playing Pery Martinez, but he is weak in front of goal, even if he is fast. Costly is a good player and has his moments, but he tends to put more energy into defending than attacking…tends to get lost on the field.

  23. mb says:

    is Harksey calling the game?
    i love his espn promo photo: link to tinyurl.com

  24. Kevin says:

    link to youtube.com

    Watch the cross on the first goal. WHO exactly, even on the A team, can cross like that?! NO ONE!!! Please, Bradley; play Tino. Or at least send him home so United can have him. Keeping him on the bench behind the likes of Pause and Rogers is insulting and ridiculous.

  25. chg says:

    Fans of Mexico don’t count it as HFA unless they can pelt the other team with bags of urine and intimidate the CONCACAF ref into more egregious calls than usual.

  26. Kevin says:

    By the way, that cross is from the run of lay, not a set piece.

  27. Tim says:

    I really want to see the same lineup the US had against Panama, with the exception of Holden in the middle with Quaranta on the right. And Clarence Goodson replacing Jimmy Conrad if he isn’t fit.

  28. Gracos says:

    USA please destroy Honduras 6-0, that would be great

  29. jloome says:

    “and while the referee helped the Hondurans in the quarterfinals, the Catrachos still did their part to win that game.”

    Uh how’s that Ives, by burying one penalty kick? They were dominated for two-thirds of the match and got through on a jobbed call. Don’t give them credit for that.

  30. Jose A. V. says:

    US can beat them, just down put in ther Pause becaus it will slow down the US attack. Put Cronin in instead.

    ——–Ching——-Coope———–

    Rogers—Beckerman—-Cronin—Holden

    Pearce—Marshall—-Goodson—Evans

    ————–Perkins—————

    this should be enought to beat them

    subs:

    Arnaud for Cooper or Ching

    Quaranta for Cronin, slide Holden in.

    Clark for Rogers when he gets tired

  31. Adam R. says:

    Quaranta sits for one game, and “Bobo is finished with his services”

    I understand it’s getting harder and harder to take cheap shots at Bob…but try to come up with something remotely legitimate next time.

  32. christian says:

    I really wanna know where US fans buy their fanboy glasses.

    That’s some nice tunnel vision ya’ll got there.

    Of course playing the Gold Cup in the US in an advantage for the US national team.

    The fact there are only 25k US fans nation wide and they can’t get enough support to fill stadiums isn’t anybody else’s problem but the USSF.

    We’ve already seen how well the US’s “B” (or C team, insert played out excuse here) does while playing on the road.

    See Copa America 2007.

    Homefield advantage isn’t about having the most fans in the stands.

    Ohhh by the way, US wins 2-1 on Thursday and goes on to face Costa Rica on Sunday.

  33. Neeskens13 says:

    I am down in the Outer Banks this week with no access to FSC or the Spanish stations. Does anyone know any good sports/soccer bars in the area that will be showing the match? Thanks in advance!

  34. RLW2020 says:

    so did parkhurst fly to denmark only to return a few days later? thats got to be exhausting

  35. Kevin says:

    Quaranta sits for one game, and “Bobo is finished with his services”

    I understand it’s getting harder and harder to take cheap shots at Bob…but try to come up with something remotely legitimate next time.

    Posted by: Adam R. | July 22, 2009 at 07:48 PM

    One game? You mean the quarterfinals? It’s not like he just sat him for a group game (which he did anyway); he sat him in the all-important knockout rounds, where you presumably play only your best. This, to me, says that Bradley has no interest in Quaranta’s services, especially when he didn’t sub him in after Robbie Rogers had a mediocre (at best) performance against another mediocre (at best) opponent.

    As long as you shine against Grenada, you get some leeway, is what the message is.

  36. pking says:

    ummm…as far as playing Gold Cups in the U.S. and the homefield advantage involved. Don’t you think this is essentially a foregone conclusion because of economics? They can charge a lot more for a ticket here than anywhere else, except perhaps Canada. Many teams (Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, etc.) play friendlies in the U.S. rather than their countries for this same reason.

  37. georgia says:

    So, every USMNT must check out this quote from Logan Pause in the US soccer blog interview!

    LP: “I’ve known Kyle for years since we’ve played for the U-23s in 2003 and 2004. We’re good buddies and we get along well. All that helps when you get on the field. It’s been nice to reconnect with him and be able to spend some time with him over the last three weeks. We definitely enjoy playing with each other.”

    Source: link to mnt-ussoccer.blogspot.com

    Haha, childish, I know…but i needed to share that one.

  38. Isaac says:

    We may not even know the reason Bradley decided to sit Quaranta, Kevin. Quaranta hasn’t been in the national team system for a good 2-3 years so he may not be used to the more intense training regimen. Also, why is it automatically assumed that Quaranta is our best? He did well against Honduras but had some shaky moments as well. He then followed that up with a pretty much invisible performance against Haiti. I’m not saying Quaranta isn’t good, I’m just saying you’re giving him too much credit and you’re jumping on his bandwagon a bit too early. I wouldn’t be surpised if you were a DC fan which is why your playing the, “Put him on the pitch or put him on the next flight home” card.

  39. Franky says:

    Jose, I’m glad someone recognized that Cronin would be a definite upgrade over Pause. His ability to possess the ball would be huge for us against Honduras

    Second, I just do not understand how Bradley could start Ching against Mexico. We scored 7 goals against Brazil, Egypt and Spain with Davies and Altidore. Those two showed that they could hold the ball up top well against the two best teams in the world. Whenever Ching plays for us we revert to playing long balls to his head and hope to run onto a 50-50 second ball. It kills our attack and our possession.

    I know Bradley is not the best judge of talent, but even an idiot would be able to see that Davies and Altidore are the better duo up top. For heaven’s sake, even Spain recognized that Davies caused them all sorts of problems.

  40. Jerry says:

    IMHO I think that if Honduras were to pull an upset it would be in this game. as ives mentioned all the notable absences for this US will be a huge facto. lets be honest folks Im a Honduran NT fan but you guys werent exactly killing us in the 1st game during group stage. Until Davies and Feilhaber came on the game was pretty close with the exception of the US MF which seemed to be getting a good grop on the game. I hope the Honduran striker can take their chances and finish accurately I think that this will determine the game whoever finishes their chances, sound cliche but I beleive it will hold very true for this particular encounter.

  41. Joe Quake says:

    In my dream last night, the US lost 2-1. Brian Ching played horribly, and people were upset that Beckham decided not to play in the game.

    Hey, it’s a dream – plus I probably got the Ching part right.

  42. Army of Dad says:

    As long as you shine against Grenada, you get some leeway, is what the message is.

    Posted by: Kevin | July 22, 2009 at 11:27 PM

    Or some “shine” against Sweden ala Sasha? That is Bob Bradley for you.

  43. Isaac says:

    Second, I just do not understand how Bradley could start Ching against Mexico. We scored 7 goals against Brazil, Egypt and Spain with Davies and Altidore. Those two showed that they could hold the ball up top well against the two best teams in the world. Whenever Ching plays for us we revert to playing long balls to his head and hope to run onto a 50-50 second ball. It kills our attack and our possession.

    -Franky-

    Wrong. Davies and Altidore were useful for goals and there is no doubt about that. However, when we really needed a player who we could count on to hold the ball and kill the other teams momentum, we got two strikers whose touch with their back to goal are awful and were more interested in trying to take players on. That cost us dearly against Italy and in the second half against Brazil. We had the lead in both those games and if we had Ching in either I thik it would have been a different story. We got caught up in trying to be a “total football” side, something we’re not, and it cost us the tournament. Ching isn’t a goal-scoring machine, but his abilities extend beyond the 18 yard box people.

  44. ThaDeuce says:

    USA USA USA USA USA USA USA

  45. Isaac says:

    Second, I just do not understand how Bradley could start Ching against Mexico. We scored 7 goals against Brazil, Egypt and Spain with Davies and Altidore. Those two showed that they could hold the ball up top well against the two best teams in the world. Whenever Ching plays for us we revert to playing long balls to his head and hope to run onto a 50-50 second ball. It kills our attack and our possession.

    -franky-

    Wrong. Listen, Davies and Altidore are very good for goals, yes but we needed more than that against Brazil and Italy. When we took the lead we needed a striker like Ching or Casey where we could put the ball into his feet and he could hold onto it and kill the other teams momentum. What we got was two strikers with an inadequate touch with their back to goal that were more interested in trying to take players on and that was what truly killed our possession. We got caught up in trying to be a “total football” side playing the sexy way, which is something we’re not. That kind of play cost us our first FIFA final. You have to accept the fact that, against bigger teams, we’re a counter-attacking kind of team. You may not like that but thats who we are and the second goal against Brazil shows that. The thing that makes Ching so special is that his abilities extend beyond the 18 yard box.

  46. Isaac says:

    Allow me to finish my argument by saying this is possibly the worst team photo, I’ve ever seen. At least of the USA.

  47. Franky says:

    Isaac,

    How did we get the leads in those games? It wasnt Ching or Casey. If you want to hold a lead with 15 mins left, fine, bring on Brian Ching. But if you want to have any chance to possess the ball and if you dont want our tacticts to revert to serving long balls to Ching’s head then I would suggest not playing him. Ask Brazil and Spain who they would rather face: Davies or Ching. Its a no brainer.

  48. Jose A. V. says:

    Isaac,

    where in this tournament, has Ching held the ball so well, as you are asserting. Davies has held the ball better underpressure than Ching, as of late. And Plus, he is more dangerous on one on one situations.

  49. Isaac says:

    Franky, I addressed the goal scoring thing saying Ching was not a goal scoring machine. It’s about holding the lead. Against the bigger teams it’s going to be about more than holding the lead or tie for just 15 minutes. We’re going to be under fire for the whole match against the biggest teams. 1v1 ability is great and all but there are going to be times when we just need to hold the ball, kill time, kill the other teams momentum, we don’t need to be the total football team in every game.

    You, as well as a lot of people, seem to dislike the long ball tactic. While using it for a full 90 minutes is a poor idea, there is nothing wrong with it. We’ve seen that we can play the beautiful football, but when we tried to push the envelope and do it all the time we got our butts handed to us.

    Davies has never been about holding the ball. He’s always been one to take the ball and go at players and think about his next move after that. There’s nothing wrong with that either but we just need a forward where we can take the pressure off the defense, let them catch their breath, someone who redistributes the ball well and has a good soccer IQ. That’s Brian Ching. Sorry guys, but Ching is the best forward in the pool by far for me.

  50. Kevin says:

    We may not even know the reason Bradley decided to sit Quaranta, Kevin. Quaranta hasn’t been in the national team system for a good 2-3 years so he may not be used to the more intense training regimen. Also, why is it automatically assumed that Quaranta is our best? He did well against Honduras but had some shaky moments as well. He then followed that up with a pretty much invisible performance against Haiti. I’m not saying Quaranta isn’t good, I’m just saying you’re giving him too much credit and you’re jumping on his bandwagon a bit too early. I wouldn’t be surpised if you were a DC fan which is why your playing the, “Put him on the pitch or put him on the next flight home” card.

    Posted by: Isaac | July 23, 2009 at 05:31 AM

    I have openly expressed being a DC fan. Being a DC fan, I have observed him for quite some time, and can tell you he is easily our most talented player- both on DCU and with this version of the Nats team (maybe Holden has him beat).

  51. CT says:

    Franky, you’re assuming that since you’ve seen the combination of Altidore/Davies have success that the Altidore/Davies combination is the best possible combination. Have you considered either Ching/Altidore or Ching/Davies? If you recall, the Ching/Altidore combo scored 3 goals against Costa Rico in a WC qualifier. Ching is sufficiently dangerous as a goal scorer to keep the defense honest, but his true value is as a facilitator for other players. I don’t have the stats at hand but I’m willing to bet the following in WC qualifying this cycle plus Confed Cup: 0 assists for Altidore, 0 assists for Davies, 4 or 5 assists for Ching. Many times the assist is what makes the goal – the assist is so skillful that a caveman could finish the goal. But don’t take my word for it – look at how much attention Ching gets from opposing center backs when he is on the field.

  52. Franky says:

    While I completely agree that having a guy who can hold the ball up top and distribute to set up goals is incredibly valuable, the fault in your logic is that Ching is NOT that guy. Have you watched the Gold Cup? How many goals has he set up? That would be 0 other than the easy header he had against Honduras. But we were already up 1-0 in that game b/c Davies came on, instantly added spark, and SET UP the first goal to Quaranta.

    And while I dont have a high regard for Ching, it is really the tactics of playing Ching that I deplore. We are a much more dynamic team when we can possess the ball and create an attack through possession. When Ching is on the field (it was the same as with McBride) we revert to playing long ball. England has proven over the years that the playing very direct tactics is not effective on the international stage. Its too predictable to defend. If you’ve ever played the game at a high level then you know that. Now England has Capello, they play a more possession oriented game, and they are winning.

    When we play against CONCACAF teams we should be able to possess and create. We are superior to every other team and reverting to a very direct style hurts us. We NEVER would have scored those goals against Egypy, Brazil, and Spain with Ching on the field. And the fact that Ching can score a couple of goals against CONCACAF opponents is a result of their inferiority, not CHing’s ability.

  53. Isaac says:

    Listen, Ching doesn’t have the flair of a goalscorer like Davies but his play has a ripple effect on the team. Ching definitely is that guy. It’s not like Ching hasn’t set up chances either. He set up Cooper with that left footed miss against Panama. He’s had a hand in so many goals for the USA in Qualifying as well. Dempsey’s goal against Cuba, Donovan’s goal against Cuba, Altidore’s first goal against Trinidad and Tobago, Altidore’s goal against El Salvador. He also helped in the build up to Quaranta’s goal against Honduras and Holden’s goal against Haiti( That was pretty lucky so discount that one).

    We can be a dynamic team sure but do you see what happened when we played against a team who plays the possession game better than us and we tried to beat them at it? We lost. If you can’t beat them at the possession game you need to switch to a different style. We NEED a striker like Ching against those teams so we can whether the storm. The reason he’s a great striker is, like I said, his effect spreads throughout the field/game/team, rather than the 18 yard box.

  54. Franky says:

    Look at all the games you are mentioning for Ching….they are against low level CONCACAF teams. Eddie Johnson can even score against those guys.

    I agree that our inability to put together possession in the 2nd half against Brazil cost us. But look what we did in the 1st half. Had we not conceeded a goal 45 seconds into the 2nd half it would have been a different story. And look what we did against Spain. The fact of the matter is had CHing been in the whole time we NEVER would have had either of those leads. So bring him on for the last 20 to help us kill the game, fine. He may be marginally better than Davies and Altidore and holding a guy off and laying the ball back, but he has zero ability to create anything. And when he is on the field we dont try to play his feet, we try to find his head, which is not intelligent soccer

  55. JKlins31373 says:

    Not sure on why the comparisons on Rogers and Holden. Rogers as had 2 assist (actually a third because first goal against Panama was from his cross)and 1 goal. Holden has had 2 goals and 1 assist. Rogers has played clearly superior defense the entire series (Holden cost the USA a goal). Rogers has had about 4 times as many completed crosses as Holden. Rogers is slightly ahead on completed pass ratio.

    Therefore, not really sure how you can compare the two but I know where they can be most helpful. Holden is a Dax type player that will be most helpful if he stays active and causes some linkage with the center mids. Rogers can be most helpful if he continues with his excellent defense (it gives Pearce confidence to attack) and opens space for the strikers and mids with his attacks-this also forces the opponent to double team.

  56. JKlins31373 says:

    I would like to see one of these from Robbie though:

    link to web.mlsnet.com

  57. andrew in tampa says:

    anyone know of a place in Tallahassee to watch the game tonight? I am marooned far away from my Verizon fios