Reaction to the United States 1-1 Tie with Honduras in World Cup Qualifying

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The United States displayed no ability to pass the ball well or keep possession against Honduras on Tuesday, and only a handful of U.S. players looked like they were trying to win. The performance was so devoid of collective passing or positives that analysis of the game is virtually pointless.

Christian Pulisic, Clint Dempsey, and Jordan Morris played very direct from the beginning, and Kellyn Acosta was also looking to build up a passing rhythm and advance the ball with incisive forward passes.

Darlington Nagbe and Michael Bradley were not involved enough or impressive.

Pulisic was certainly direct and aggressive against Honduras, and the Borussia Dortmund midfielder pulled off at least two nutmegs while most of the team looked disinterested.

Dempsey and Acosta were involved and looking to keep possession and attack the goal, but Nagbe was virtually invisible without any trademark dribbling bursts. Morris starting at first striker was the other U.S. player who played like he wanted to win.

Where the goals came from

One again a defensive mistake caused a goal. Omar Gonzalez missed a tackle close to goal that allowed Honduras to score an easy goal at the far post, and he either didn’t have the pace to get down fast enough on his slide tackle or he just mistimed or whiffed his slide tackle. Bruce Arena still has Graham Zusi playing right back despite not really equipped to play the position at the international level, as Zusi is after all really a midfielder.

With some five minutes left, Bobby Wood brought a ball down off his chest and stabbed the ball off the bounce into the back of the net. It was a composed and cool finish off a bit of a melee after an excellent Kellyn Acosta free kick where Matt Besler kept the ball alive after a richochet.

Final Thoughts

All in all, not being able to keep possession and create more scoring chances against Honduras or any CONCACAF opponent for that matter is still unacceptable. The United States has the players to play better soccer, but there wasn’t enough urgency and directness against Honduras with the exception of several players. Nagbe was pretty flat for a player of his ability, and the outside backs didn’t provide much in the way of attacking down the sidelines.

Once again a 4-4-2 was used by the U.S. and there was a big gap between the midfield and the attack where Pulisic tried to fill the hole by attacking people off the dribble.

The United States had a formation that work, and it was an attacking formation where Bradley featured as the lone defensive midfielder behind three attacking midfielders and two forwards. Certainly, using a 4-2-3-1 would also work well with the U.S.’ talent pool, but reverting back to the 4-4-2 is causing the U.S.’s play under Arena to regress.

 

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