Off the hook: USA survives San Pedro Sula

With two games to play in the Hexagonal, the USA hasn't already qualified for the World Cup like it did at the same stage in 2013.

It isn't even in the top three. But fourth place looks a lot better than fifth, which is where it would have been but for a 1-1 tie at Honduras thanks to a dramatic goal from Bobby Wood with five minutes to play.



1. Sometimes it takes a village.

The USA looked to be headed to defeat for the second game in a row -- just like it did when it opened up Hexagonal, costing Jurgen Klinsmann his job -- when it conjured up an equalizer in the 85th minute.

Seven players had a hand in the goal, beginning with Geoff Cameron, who won a 50-50 ball in the air that fell to Michael Bradley. Christian Pulisic, tired legs and all, came for Bradley's pass and turned on his defender, Alfredo Mejia, drawing a free kick 27 yards from goal.

Kellyn Acosta, who had scored on free kicks for FC Dallas against Pachuca in the Concacaf Champions League in March and Ghana in a friendly in July, lined up and fired a free kick headed for the upper-right corner, where Honduran keeper Luis Lopez stopped it with a flying save.

The rebound looped to the other side of the goal, where Matt Besler lifted it back toward goal with his left foot. Jordan Morris flicked it on to Wood, who chested the ball down and fired the ball into the goal with the outside of his right foot.

After the 4-0 loss in Costa Rica that cost Klinsmann his job, the USA has now gotten a result in all three of its Hex games on the road under Bruce Arena, marking the first time it has done that in 20 years. Those three points have kept the USA in the hunt, making up for the three points dropped at home to Costa Rica on Friday night.

U.S. Hex away results:
YEAR: RECORD
1997: T-L-T-T-W
2001: W-T-L-L-T
2005: W-L-W-L-W
2009: T-L-L-W-W
2013: L-T-W-L-W
2016-17: L-T-T-T

2. On the ropes after Omar gaffe.

Wood's goal wiped out 85 minutes of another game which the USA struggled to gain control of. Arena made seven changes from the team that lost to Costa Rica, 2-0, hoping fresh legs would hold up in the heat and humidity of San Pedro Sula.

But the pace of the Honduran attackers Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Antony Lozano put the U.S. defense under considerable pressure for the first hour. The Catrachos went ahead in the 27th minute when Omar Gonzalez came up empty on his tackle, allowing Quioto to break in alone on Brad Guzan whom he beat to the far post.

Honduras looked like it would get a second goal before the break, but Guzan came up big on a Maynor Figueroa free kick, punching away the FC Dallas defender's fierce free kick in the 44th minute.

3. Cameron, from goat to hero.

The turning point in the game for the USA came not with an offensive switch -- though Wood was a sub off the bench for the quiet Darlington Nagbe -- but a double switch to take off the two tiring outside backs, Graham Zusi and DaMarcus Beasley, and bring on Cameron and Paul Arriola.

Cameron, who struggled in the 2-0 loss to Costa Rica, was a stabilizing force on the backline, while Arriola added energy on the wing.

The moves at least allowed the USA to stay even with the Catrachos until the final push in the last 10 minutes that produced one of the biggest goals in U.S. qualifying history -- and got Gonzalez off the hook.

47 comments about "Off the hook: USA survives San Pedro Sula".
  1. Bob Ashpole, September 6, 2017 at 1:58 a.m.

    I thought that the referee did a good job under challenging circumstances. All I can say about the players is that our Finals hopes have survived. That was the ugliest game I have seen in a long time. There were times when both teams booted the ball up and down the field aimlessly. The result, a tie, only looks good because a loss would have been a disaster.

  2. Kent James replied, September 6, 2017 at 7:24 p.m.

    Well-said.

  3. Dan Eckert, September 6, 2017 at 7:46 a.m.

    The announcers were in the studio - but the audio engineer made a mistake and let the stadium sound in for just a moment - you could hear the sound/chants/horns by the fans and noise in the stadium. Not a friendly place. Sometimes it just sucks to be a visitor. What an awful sound. These boys will have headaches and nightmares for days.

  4. frank schoon replied, September 6, 2017 at 8:57 a.m.

    Poor babies.. tooters, noisy crowds, oh, the humanity of it all...we should apply by FIFA for "Safe Spaces" on the field....How 'bout , players are allowed to wear headphones to drown out fan noise.....

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 6, 2017 at 10:12 a.m.

    The Dutch players won't have to worry about any noise in Russia since they won't be there.

  6. Thomas Cobra, September 6, 2017 at 7:57 a.m.

    Without every player at their best this team is in jeopardy of a short time in Russia. Zusi is fine against slow and unskilled players. He was a complete disaster at right back. Demarus is just getting up in age. You can;t have a back on the team and know from the start he is likelu not going to go the entire 90. THe fact that he is still on the roster at his age is telling us the USA system of developing the best players at all positions is lacking. It is much easier to teach defensive that to teach creative skills. How come after 12 years we still do not have a group of effective backs. YEdlin was hurt but if he did not have super speed his skills are sorely lacking. If brooks were not 6foot 4 and a hulk his skills are even less effective. We need better backs to keep our mid fielders from having to always play more defense instead of linking with our forwards. We are lucky to have to cup cakes games remaining to get to Russia

  7. cisco martinez, September 6, 2017 at 8:19 a.m.

    I think Arena is doing what he needs to do to get us to Russia, remember Arenas record is 2-3-1, while Klinsmann went 0-3.

  8. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 9:44 a.m.

    I saw only 17 minutes of it on Youtube and it wasn't all that good. No surprise ,as Bob stated, that it was one of the ugliest games. LOOK at how we played against Costa Rica, and Honduras, who we usually beat but this time lucky to get a tie out of it. You have to ask yourself are we that much better on the field than 20 or 25 years ago; and take into account the growth of the game, the Academies, the professionalization , the huge amount of licensed coaches, the organizational growth , the pro-league, soccer on TV, everything... Look at the product that we produce out there on the field and ask yourself....IS IT THAT MUCH BETTER..
    Notice the first goal that was scored by Honduras. Look at Zusi, BALL WATCHING, like a typical youth player. A defender should always have the ball and the opponent in his view. And he also , wrongly position himself square with the opponent which gives the opponent the first step or jump . Both Zusi and the right central back employed walkers with tennis balls stuck on the bottom. I'm surprised they allowed the use of walkers on the field. I mean,SERIOUSLY, how bad was the defense at this level considering these are professional players....
    And then Honduras almost scored a second goal but it hit the post. My question is why was Michael Bradley having to chase this attacker down.(watch video). Again poor defense , poor positioning and it left a slow as molasses midfielder, Bradley, to chase down an attacker going through a big open space in the middle lane. All the opponents have to do is play with a false #9 wait till Bradley is alone and has cover this huge gap between the center backs and just run past him...I'm not happy with the two center backs playing square , I prefer a center back and sweeper to cover that middle lane, and who are both capable ball handlers not only to take the ball upfield but switch positions; this would forego having Bradley to go back and collect the ball. It is time for the US to begin to establish a style to play, for every game we play is just nothing but a big hodge podge, of players thrown together who can run all day. There needs to be some huge changes made. And i'm also not impressed with Morris, for he lacks the skills in small spaces. I think his coaches made him lift weights to improve his ball touch. Look at the run and gun crew we have out on the field: Nagby, Woods, Morris, Altidore, even Pulisic but he is better skilled. There is way too much of these types on the field, making our team not balanced, we have too many similar type of players out there...

  9. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 6, 2017 at 10:13 a.m.

    Are we that much better than 25 years ago? Yes. Other countries are too though.

  10. Gus Keri, September 6, 2017 at 9:47 a.m.

    The USA struggled these last two games because they strayed away from what they were doing in the past. World cup qualifiers are battles and there is no place for nice guys here. Bring back nastiness. You can try to play beautiful and possession-oriented soccer all you want in meaningless games, like Gold cup and friendlies. until the USMNT have the players to play nice and win, they should keep playing nasty against CONCACAF opponents in world cup qualifiers.

  11. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 9:51 a.m.

    Gus, you can be nasty and play possession-oriented style.

  12. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:05 a.m.

    TIP 127. ALWAYS MAKE AWARE TO THE YOUTH THE "ACTION AFTER THE ACTION". IN OTHER WORDS , WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT ,FOR EXAMPLE, RIGHT AFTER YOU HAVE PASSED THE BALL. ONCE YOU HAVE PASSED THE BALL, THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOUR JOB IS DONE.....

  13. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:07 a.m.

    TIP 128. SO MANY PLAYERS AND YOUTH THINK THAT SOCCER BEGINS ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE THE BALL, NOT UNTIL THEN.

  14. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:17 a.m.

    TIP 129. THERE TWO KINDS OF ATTACKERS, ONE WHO BENEFITS FROM OTHER PLAYERS WHO CREATE SPACE FOR HIM TO RUN INTO (PULISIC) AND OTHERS WHO CREATE SPACE FOR THEMSELVES, A LA A VAN BASTEN, ROBBEN,

  15. C Stephans, September 6, 2017 at 10:21 a.m.

    The last three goals against us resulted from horrible defensive play and players jogging back behind the play. Zusi or Besler could have stepped in after Gonzalez' gaffe but they both failed to sprint back to help assuming he had it with a man right on him. There is no way these can be the US's best defenders.

    That was by far the ugliest US performance I have seen along with the Costa Rica game.

  16. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:21 a.m.

    TIP 130. IF YOU'RE GOING TO TAKE OUT A PLAYER A MIDFIELDER OR DEFENDER IN ORDER TO INCREASE THE ATTACKING CAPABILITIES, THEN TAKE OUT A DEFENDER.

  17. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:25 a.m.

    TIP 131. IN ORDER TO INCREASE THE TEAM'S ATTACKING POWER IT WOULD BE BETTER, AFTER TAKING OUT A DEFENDER ,TO ADD AN EXTRA MIDFIELDER NOT AN EXTRA ATTACKER FOR REMEMBER THE TEAM THAT CONTROLS MIDFIELD CONTROLS THE GAME....

  18. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:27 a.m.

    TIPO 132. SOMETIMES ,PASSING THE BALL TOO QUICKLY FORWARDS COULD ,AS A RESULT, ISOLATE THE ATTACKER UP FRONT.

  19. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:38 a.m.

    TIP 133. A MIDFIELDER OR WING WHO HAS JUST RELEASED THE BALL, AND NO LONGER DIRECTLY INVOLVED SHOULD, IMMEDIATELY ,TAKE A FEW STEPS BACKWARDS(DEFENSIVELY) TO BE PREPARED IN CASE
    OF BALL LOSS. THIS ALLOWS THE PLAYER TO BE ALWAYS A STEP AHEAD OF THE GAME.

  20. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:40 a.m.

    TIP 134. ALWAYS TRY TO FORCE OR PRESSURE YOUR OPPONENT TO PASS THE BALL INTO AN AREA WHERE YOU OUTNUMBER YOUR OPPONENT.

  21. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:42 a.m.

    TIP 135. DON'T MAKE A PASS UP FRONT TO A FORWARD WHO IS LIKELY TO BE OUTNUMBERED BY THE OPPONENT 1V2.

  22. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:45 a.m.

    TIP 136. A WINGER'S EFFECTIVENESS IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE KIND OF PASS HE RECEIVES. TIP 135. IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE.

  23. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 10:51 a.m.

    TIP 137. SWITCHING THE FIELD OF PLAY SHOULD NOT BE CHARACTERIZED BY A SQUARE PASS, UNLESS IT IS A PASS PLACED AHEAD OF A TEAMMATE RUNNING FORWARDS RECEIVING IT ON THE RUN...

  24. Albert Harris, September 6, 2017 at 11:25 a.m.

    I will mail $20 to whoever can disable Frank's capslock key.

  25. Zabivaka Sobaka replied, September 6, 2017 at 10:08 p.m.

    I would add $20 of mine

  26. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 11:48 a.m.

    Albert, I do it to separate my regular comments. I know the younger crowd today have gone through a Pavlov dog experiment in which caps mean loud ,screaming....
    I do find it amazing how humans can be so influenced, after being told so many times that big letters can effect your emotions...

  27. Kent James replied, September 6, 2017 at 7:29 p.m.

    Frank, we know they're tips because you label them so. You could even leave the TIP capitalized. But all caps does seem like you're shouting at us...

  28. David Mont, September 6, 2017 at 12:44 p.m.

    Frank, I am not part of a younger crowd by any stretch of imagination, but I don't read text in caps. It's much harder on my eyes. Nor am I interested in some meaningless copy/paste. Not sure what your objective is. Are you carrying some kind of vendetta against SoccerAmerica and trying to reduce the number of readers?

  29. frank schoon, September 6, 2017 at 12:56 p.m.

    David, interesting, I do find caps for me as easier to read, I strain less. I never heard of that particular affliction that you have for larger letters... you learned something new. Since you're not interested in my meaningless copy/paste work, simply don't bother with it , others seem to approve. I say , whatever floats your boat....

  30. David Mont, September 6, 2017 at 2:08 p.m.

    Others seem to approve?? That's funny.

  31. frank schoon replied, September 6, 2017 at 2:23 p.m.

    David, like I said, whatever floats your boat......

  32. don Lamb replied, September 6, 2017 at 3:34 p.m.

    Like David, and apparently many others here, I am intrigued by the idea that you think you are doing everyone here a great service by posting these mostly commonsensical, sometimes nonsensical, and always completely random "tips." The game is not made up of random, disconnected tidbits as you seem to suggest. IF you insist on sharing some advice about the game, I would hope that it would have some kind of organization/flow, which would be a prerequisite for it to be any use at all. All caps or not, these "tips" are nothing more than scrambled ramblings.

  33. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 6, 2017 at 4:32 p.m.

    Yes I could do without these "tips" too. Although I did get some amusement when you first criticized Arena repeatedly for not playing a right-footed player at left-back against Mexico (he played Beasley) and shortly thereafter had a "tip" which said that left-sided players should always be left-footed.

  34. Steven SIegel, September 6, 2017 at 4:13 p.m.

    Too many bad passes. We can't string passes together. One good pass and then we deliver a bad ball, unforced. Everyone is doing it.

    Pulisic trying to do too much.

    For the record, I find all caps harder to read.

  35. Kent James, September 6, 2017 at 7:37 p.m.

    Generally, the US played poorly, but the conditions certainly contributed to that (heat, humidity, long grass, noise; all bu the last made it difficult to play the ball quickly and attack at pace, but I thought most players put out the effort (I think Arena starting Dempsey was a mistake; his strengths are skill and guile, not effort and physicality, which I think we needed more of in this game). While he did tire, I thought Acosta played well (and tremendous free kick). We played more one and two touch (less dribbling) than against CR, but we struggled to connect passes (there often didn't seem to be many options, I'm assuming this was due to the heat discouraging a lot of off the ball running, and Honduras did play a very aggressive defense in their half of the field). But the important thing is that everyone persisted, and pulled out an important point (and denied Honduras 2).

  36. ashley collie, September 6, 2017 at 10:16 p.m.

    FRANK: Since you seem to have a coaching sense about you with all the tips, maybe send a quiet EM to Bruce. Or, here's another one — send your resume into the Federation but mark it in CAPS, so they really notice you, mate!

  37. Zabivaka Sobaka, September 6, 2017 at 10:19 p.m.

    Frankie, It looks likes like nobody here cares for your bs TIPS and ignorant analysis. Why don't you find another forum where you will be more appreciated.

  38. Rusty Welch, September 7, 2017 at 2:51 a.m.

    I'm not sure why anybody would get upset about Frank's TIPS (had to) - just scroll by them. In our digitally anonymous fake world we should be courteous to each other more. I think Frank is earnestly attempting to share what is an apparently inexhaustible well of TIPS - about soccer, in a soccer comments section where I bet a lot of coaches or former coaches who love this game go. It's a flick of the finger to scroll, and a bit more time to castigate the man for it.

  39. David Mont replied, September 7, 2017 at 8:57 a.m.

    One problem is that is that people who otherwise would comment and take part in the discussion get turned off by Frank's spam and just move on to a different article. His "tips" act like a repellent.

  40. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, September 7, 2017 at 12:24 p.m.

    Also the point of these comments sections is to discuss the topic of the article. They aren't a forum for Frankie to try to prove how much he knows about the game. Even if the tips were useful, they don't belong here.

  41. David Mont, September 7, 2017 at 1:50 p.m.

    The ability to copy and paste from some manual is no indication of his knowledge of the game.

  42. Wooden Ships, September 8, 2017 at 11:36 a.m.

    Frank, I got your six and I enjoy your analysis of the game. Lately, we have additional-new posters and that's great. I do believe we have the older crowd and the younger crowd, also great. Very few posters here can and do breakdown the more subtle-sublime parts of the game. His frame of reference is Holland, mine is St. Louis (with an almagamation of ethnic influences) and many states and three countries since. We question why are development isn't further along after over 50 years of impressive growth, in both the amateur ranks and professional. I see many, if not all, observations Frank makes. Bob, is another with similar views/insights. Rather than outright disregard for his comments and tips, perhaps an acknowledgement that we can learn from others would be beneficial. Coaching credentials and academies do seem to be missing out on imparting these truisms of the international game, and not until they are addressed will we see vast numbers of players that can benefit the senior team.
    Frank, much of what you point out are things that I learned through osmosis and as a player I didn't even think about, I just did it. That's not to say that I didn't learn from coaches, former players, from Germany, Italy, Poland, Brazil, USA and most notably Yugoslavia. I appreciate everyone's input and the SA forum. Thinking of Florida.

  43. frank schoon, September 8, 2017 at 12:11 p.m.

    Ships, I thought of you and your catamaran next month. I hope Ginger is OK...I haven't heard of her as yet....

  44. Wooden Ships replied, September 8, 2017 at 1:29 p.m.

    Me either and I hope I'm mistaken about her being a Floridian. I'm afraid my sailing into oblivian during our October qualifiers will have to wait. Some of the islands will take weeks, months and years to bounce back, if at all. Terrible.

  45. Bob Ashpole replied, September 9, 2017 at 10:32 a.m.

    The photos of the damage to the islands is startling. People surviving horrific devastation, but then needing food, water, and shelter to survive.

  46. Craig Cummings, September 8, 2017 at 9:01 p.m.

    It is good to see positive posts.

  47. Andrew Kear, September 9, 2017 at 11:49 a.m.

    This has to be the most unpleasant qualifying period in USMNT history. First the team almost does not make the final round, and this is followed by loses to Mexico and Costa Rica 9 months later. Fans then have to wait three agonizing months to see the team redirected in a positive direction. Now there will be another month wait to see if the US can beat Panama. Why can't the US qualify with relative easy like it use to.

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