Posted on: February 26, 2013 4:00 pm

USA vs. Honduras Players Ratings

Like I said, I’ve never done one of these before so here goes nothing…

Players will be graded on a 1-10 scale though I guess zeros and elevens are possible if someone plays that poorly or awesome. This is just
on the individual contributions of the player to the game/team and are completely my opinions though I will try to as fair as possible to everyone,
including guys that I’m not fond of (Danny Williams) or who are in bad form with the USA (Jozy Altidore).

Also, for those who didn’t read my full entry on the game, I missed the first 30 minutes due to a small broadcasting error. My local
establishment did not have BeIN Sports as part of their DirecTV package (but they did in 2012) which left me scrambling to find an alternative viewing spot. According to my sources, I didn’t miss much. On to the rankings…

GK #1 Tim Howard – (7) – Had several good saves in the first half. Spent most of his day trying to organize his disastrous backline and
probably cursing. Loved his reaction to the first Honduras goal which was somewhere between shocked, impressed and WTF is my defense doing.

LB #23 Fabian Johnson – (4) – After stabilizing the problematic USA left back spot last year, didn’t really have a great impact on
the game at either end, especially in the second half as Honduras consistently pressured the US goal.

CB #5 Omar Gonzalez – (3) – Generally an ineffective day for the young LA Galaxy back, and that was before he failed to mark Bengston on
Honduras’ winner. You might be able to get away with that in MLS Omar, but certainly not against international competition.

CB #20 Geoff Cameron – (4) – I know that Cameron has all of 12 caps at 27 years of age, but that made him the elder statesman of this
makeshift back four of the future. He needed to step up and lead this bunch and clearly wasn’t ready or didn’t want that responsibility. Harsh, but in my opinion true, Tim Howard isn’t the only guy who can get on defenders.

RB #2 Timmy Chandler – (3) – Timmy, when Steve Cherundolo takes his job back next month, I want you to watch everything that he does and then copy it. As far as you’re concerned, Steve Cherundolo is God. Jurgen Klinsmann is the personnel officer who hired God. The fact that Cherundolo [just underwent knee surgery ]does not change this. (Anyone who knows that reference is my hero, leave the guesses/answer in the comments.)

LM #18 Eddie Johnson – (6.5) – My first reaction to Eddie lined up on the left: What is Klinsmann doing? Thirty minutes later I was sad
to see him get subbed off. Great energy and pace on the left on both ends and easily could’ve scored the opener if Duece wasn’t there.

CM #4 Michael Bradley – (6) – Spent too much time picking up what little clearances the defense gave him. Very poor day from set pieces
generally although he very nearly set up the equalizer in stoppage time with a corner. Did he ball watch on the equalizer? Possibly, but not nearly as bad Omar did on the winner so I wasn’t as upset with it…it’s a perfect overhead kick, you can’t defend a world class strike.

CM #13 Jermaine Jones – (6.5) – Very solid first half, filled the center of the midfield very well and was the only player to consistently create movement, especially on the attack. A perfect pass to Dempsey for the opener and another player I was sad to see subbed off.

RM #14 Daniel Williams – (3.5) – I don’t want to keep saying that Danny isn’t an international starter, but until he proves me wrong I’d
rather see him come off the bench where he might be able to impact a game for 15 minutes because he just doesn’t do it for the first sixty. Rightfully first man subbed off and that’s saying something with the way the backline was all day.

ST #17 Jozy Altidore – (5) – Just didn’t get to see enough of the ball because he doesn’t have anyone to get it to him and he doesn’t come
back enough to get it. I’m okay with Jozy getting starts, he’s killing it for AZ, but he’s a pure striker, always facing goal. He needs someone who can play off him better like Gomez or Dempsey/Donovan on the wings. He just gets lost out there when the US doesn’t give him a chance to run onto the ball and the few half chances he does get are few and far between.

ST #8 Clint Dempsey – (7) – Amazing finish though sadly only the second best goal of the game. Still don’t know why he started up front
instead of at right mid but either way, didn’t get the ball enough and when he did couldn’t do much with it.

Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann – (3) – Terrible lineup, no fluidity to the formation, but I actually thought that the three early subs were aggressive and attack orientated but at the end of the day nothing can save him from that disastrous backline performance with Bocanegra sitting on
the bench.


MF #7 Maurice Edu – (6) – Had an immediate impact coming in for Danny Williams, mainly because of his predecessor’s performance. His energy
level  alone between the boxes should be enough to see him featured in the next set of qualifiers.

MF #16 Sasha Kljestan – (5.5) – Tried to make an impact on the left side but didn’t have enough opportunities in the thirty minutes he was
on the field but his playmaking ability in the midfield can’t be denied, when his team can actually gain possession.

MF #19 Graham Zusi - (4.5) – Spent most of the time fouling on the right wing and was in my opinion lucky to escape a yellow on multiple
occasions. Almost assisted on the equalizer off a corner late in the game.



Category: Soccer
Posted on: February 26, 2013 3:51 pm

USA Drops WCQ to Honduras

Oh boy, here we go again…

Yes, I’m back, first blog entry in a while (since when do 6000 people read my MLS Power Rankings?) and I know that you’re all excited to read my soccer entries.

I’m not. Just months after the US MNT won their semifinal qualifying group by the skin of their teeth, Jurgen Klinsmann and his boys get
thumped 2-1 at Honduras to start the final CONCACAF WCQ round, also known as “The Hex.” I want to write about happy things. Good games where I write about things the USA can improve on, not awful things that need to be blown up…like our defense.

I’ve never done one of these before, but I’m posting a separate player ratings entry with to give a little more info on the how the individual players did, because this entry is going to focus on a broader problem with the US MNT.

For starters, I’d like to thank BeIN Sports/TV or whatever the hell you call yourselves for making it nearly impossible to watch USA away games. I understand you have the rights to the CONCACAF stuff due to a very complicated broadcasting system for international soccer (basically each country/federation only controls their home games). Dear FoxSoccer / ESPN, if you guys ever lose a bidding war (ESPN’s Alexi Lalas says there was never an offer to do the USA away games from anyone but whatever, I think I heard this from his Twitter feed which I’m not counting as a source) to a station that is not even in this hemisphere again, I hope you both go bankrupt. Seriously, ESPN can get all of the Mexico qualifiers but not USA? Spare me your excuses, this stuff matters to some of us and it’s a joke that I have to leave my house and miss the first thirty minutes of the game trying to find an establishment that has DirecTV.

Secondly, the actual game itself wasn’t terrible. I’m actually a fan of the USA dominating the midfield and building up attacks with possession. Not that they did either of those effectively against Honduras, but when it did happen there was good soccer, capped off by Jermaine Jones’ brilliantly weighted ball that sent Clint Dempsey (and Eddie Johnson) through on goal with an equally brilliant first time volley to the back corner of the net. It’s hard to say what the USA did wrong on the Honduran equalizer. It’s a corner that’s so bad it ends up on the other wing, it’s re-centered and
bicycled in past Howard very quickly. Sure the cross could have been contested better on the wing but Geoff Cameron/Michael Bradley were marking their men well enough that the bike/overhead kick was about the only thing Honduras’ Juan Carlos Garcia could do. The winner however is a completely different story. Where to begin…Gonzalez is watching it, Cameron has no idea what to do with it, Howard doesn’t help anything, Gonzalez is still watching it and Jerry Bengston has a tap-in. Ugh. Then after that goal, the USA actually shows some life and energy and tries to scrape an equalizer but it’s too little, too late, game started at 4PM EST guys, it’s almost 6PM.

Third, if these are the results that Klinsmann is going to give us, then I’m going to say this: If Bob Bradley can get fired for making the Round of 16 at the WC, when does Klinsmann get canned for having us at the bottom of the table? I’m serious. I’m putting about 70-75 percent of the blame for this loss on Klinsmann. His defensive back four selections for this game was laughable and ineffective at best. Tim Howard spent most of his day bailing them out, watching them get beat and failing to clear the ball out of the defensive third. If my boy Jerry Bengston (NE Revolution, MLS DP) put any shot on goal other than the winner this could’ve been 4-1 Honduras. But that’s okay, Carlos Bocanegra was on the bench for reasons that elude me. I understand that Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron and the now cap-tied Timmy Chandler are the future defensive unit. That’s for Russia 2018, not Brazil 2014. That means Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo (who missed the game with an injury) are in the starting
lineup. Period. For more on Timmy Chandler and the rest of the defense, you’ll have to go to my player ratings entry, they’re kinda the focal point of my angst.

This game (and the qualifying cycle in general) proves just how badly the USA misses Landon Donovan. There was no wing play today for several
reasons, mainly because USA didn’t have any wingers. Clint Dempsey apparently is now a striker, Brek Shea was too injured to join the national team (but he can transfer to Stoke) and Landon is MIA. Fine, Eddie Johnson did a decent job on the left side for a guy that normally plays striker and he was clearly more effective than Danny Williams who continues to get caps despite never doing anything. And I like Danny, but he’s not a starter at this level yet. I didn’t have a problem with Jozy Altidore up front but he didn’t have a good strike partner. I would have rather seen Herculez Gomez up front with Dempsey on the outside mid. Michael Bradley was rendered ineffective because of the complete breakdown of the USA formation, which should ALWAYS be a 4-4-2. PERIOD. This is America, let’s not try to be something that we’re not. We play defense, have
box to box midfielders and we don’t have silly miscommunications that lead to soft goals because our center backs are sleeping. By the way, Omar, Jerry Bengston is behind you.

Here’s how the formation should have been at the start of the game, reading left to right: Howard; F. Johnson, Cameron, Bocanegra,
Chandler; E. Johnson, Bradley, Jones, Dempsey; Altidore, Gomez

Am I crazy? I understand there were limits to this particular USA roster and it’s a very odd, one time game on the road with a roster than came together apparently on Monday? Why though?

 I didn’t post anything on the USA-Canada friendly because it was pointless. Essentially, a USA MLS All-Star team played the Canadian Olympic team (U-23 with De Rosario and Dunfield) in a scoreless draw that Klinsmann used to fill out his bench and third keeper spot (Chicago Fire keeper Sean Johnson had a solid game in net though). You know what might have been a good idea coach? Trying to figure out who’s going to start at defense in the opener against Honduras. That means calling up Chandler and the rest of the European based players into camp and working on communication and chemistry. I don’t give a hoot if that pisses off their clubs, this is WCQ on FIFA international dates. If you know that you’re
starting right back (Cherundolo) isn’t playing, why not see who can replace him? I’m all for getting a lot of guys capped and bringing up the MLS guys to see who can hack it with the A-Team, but not for qualifying. You have to have your best players in camp for two weeks, European clubs be damned. This isn’t politics, it’s soccer, no playing nicey-nice with the Euros because they don’t like our qualifying schedule. Tottenham will just have to find someone else to score goals in the spring while Clint Dempsey scores for the USA. Clearly the tail end of last year proved that the USA has dropped back to the pack. You just can’t show up at Honduras and Jamaica and Guatemala and just expect to win anymore without anything less than your full side. You’re going to play games on crap fields, during a monsoon or 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity against teams that are gunning for you.

So for the love of Sam’s Army act like you want to be there. Or stay in Germany. Yes, that was directed at you Chandler, welcome to the US
MNT. Now park your butt on the pine and thank Jamaica for a scoreless draw at Azteca against Mexico. Because the USA sits only one point behind Mexico…

And El Tri have dropped two points at home.

Category: Soccer
Posted on: June 18, 2011 3:30 pm

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011 - Quarterfinal Preview

Of the four quarterfinal matchups this weekend I am confident in predicting only one winner, and those who have been following the tournament probably know who that is. Mexico is by far the favorite to win the tournament and there isn’t another team playing anywhere near the level the Group A champions displayed in the group phase.

With that said, let’s preview the weekend quarterfinal matchups…

SATURDAY, JUNE 18 – New Meadowlands Stadium, E. Rutherford, NJ
[A2-CRC] Costa Rica vs. Honduras [HON-B2]

The soccer gods are particularly cruel to these two teams in this matchup. These two sides battled it out for the third spot in “The Hex” for the 2010 World Cup with Honduras advancing and Costa Rica losing in a playoff to Uruguay. Both teams have been less than impressive so far in this tournament and both had identical results in the group phase by blowing out the fourth place team, drawing the third and losing to the winners, while finishing second over the third place team on GD.

I’d have to give a slight edge to Costa Rica here. All of Honduras’ seven goals in the tournament so far came against Grenada in a 7-1 blowout. Costa Rica hasn’t been impressive by any means, but they did score against Mexico in their last game while Honduras was shut out for second time in the Gold Cup by a reserve laden Jamaica squad. Don’t be surprised if this one gets chippy and makes it to extra time and/or penalties.

[A1-MEX] Mexico vs. Guatemala [GUA-B3] 

The only true mismatch of the quarterfinal stage in my opinion mainly because Mexico is on fire. Javier Hernandez can’t stop scoring and Guatemala doesn’t have the horses to stay with El Tri. With that said, Mexico needs to open the game up fast. If they allow Guatemala to hang around into the second half, Carlos Ruiz, Marco Pappa and the Guatemala attack might have just enough to punch home a goal. If Mexico gets out to an early lead and forces Guatemala to press more men forward, the counter attack will be wide open and this game could over after an hour.

SUNDAY, JUNE 19 – RFK Stadium, Washington D.C.
[B1-JAM] Jamaica vs. United States [USA-C2]

Another cruel matchup pits the streaking Reggae Boys of Jamaica against the USA. Jamaica rolled through a relatively weak Group B and its reward is a struggling USA side that slogged its way to a runner up finish in Group C. If the USA has their act together and shows up for all 90 minutes, this will be a great game I think. Lucky for the US, they’re hosting this tournament because if this game was in Jamaica tomorrow I don’t know if the USA wins it.

There are two keys to this game; First, how will the USA left match up against Dane Richards and the Jamaica 3-5-2 formation? Landon Donovan and the US left back (likely Steve Cherundolo) will have their hands full with the speedly NY Red Bulls winger and Donovan will also have to spend a lot more time up front, where he’s been MIA all tournament. If the USA can win this matchup, it will likely free up a ton of chances for Dempsey, Altidore and the rest of the USA but that brings me to the second key to the game…
Can the USA finish inside the 18? Somehow the USA defeated Guadeloupe on a thunderous strike from Jozy Altidore at the top of the box. But it’s the USA’s finishing inside the area that has been atrocious. I know Bob Bradley has been giving a lot of players looks up front at striker/forward due to lack of performance, but maybe it’s time to stick to one player next to Altidore up front.

[C1-PAN] Panama vs. El Salvador [SLV-A3]

This is another interesting matchup despite the differences in the two teams standing in their respective groups. El Salvador’s shining moment came in their near upset of Costa Rica, but a last minute equalizer by the Ticos meant that game finished in a draw. Panama pulled off a stunning upset of the USA, but have otherwise been largely unimpressive in my opinion.

Without sounding like a bitter USA fan, Panama was lucky to win Group C. They allowed Guadeloupe back into a game they were up 3-0, lucked out that the USA couldn’t buy another goal in the second half and got a last minute equalizer to draw and eliminate Canada. I still think that Panama’s striker duo of Perez and Tejada will be able to push the Red Tide into the semi-finals.

Posted on: June 6, 2011 8:26 am

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011 Group B Preview

Grenada [GRN] – Rankings (FIFA – 98 / Elo – 134)
Nicknames – Spice Boys
Qualification – CFU (Carribbean) – 4th Place
CONCACAF Gold Cup – 1 Appearance, Group State in 2009 

Grenada took a huge blow to their chances at advancement to the knockout stages when New England Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph stayed with his club team. The Spice Boys roster consists of largely domestic and lower-tier English league players. Craig Rocastle of Sporting KC is the only MLS player on a roster that in any other group I would say is definitely outmatched. But aside from Honduras, I think Grenada should be fighting for points in their other matches against Jamaica (who beat them 2-0 in qualifying) and Guatemala.

 Guatemala [GUA] – Rankings (FIFA – 126 / Elo – 105)
Nicknames – Los Chapines, La Bicolor
Qualification – UNCAF (Central America) – 5th Place
CONCACAF Championships – 1967

Another minnow looking to make some noise in the shark tank is Guatemala. Another roster of largely domestic based players, the two you should know are MLS’ Marco Pappa (CHI Fire) and maddening striker and all time Guatemala scorer Carlos Ruiz (PHI Union). If they want to advance out of the group, they’re going to have to figure out how to get points from either Jamaica or Honduras and beat Grenada.

Honduras [HON] – Rankings (FIFA – 38 / Elo – 37)
Nicknames – Los Catrachos
Qualification – UNCAF (Central America) – Champions
CONCACAF Championships – 1981

 Like Costa Rica, Honduras is an emerging regional power in CONCACAF, qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They are the clear favorites of the group, and boast a roster mix of experience and youth as well as domestic and international players, including players from the EPL and Bundesliga and Scottish PL as well as MLS’ Roger Espinosa (Sporting KC). Keep an eye on the likely starting strikers up top, Carlo Costly and Walter Martinez, who have a combined 28 goals in 88 caps between them. This is a group that plays a lot together as a lot of guys in their mid-20s have already been capped 40 times or more. If you’re looking for the first non-North American team to win the Gold Cup, this year’s Honduras squad should be your pick.

Jamaica [JAM] – Rankings (FIFA – 55 / Elo – 47)
Nicknames – Reggae Boys
Qualification – CFU (Carribean) – Champions
CONCACAF Gold Cup – 7 Appearances, 3rd in 1993

 Another team trying to break out into a regional power is Jamaica. They’ve been one of the best teams in the Caribbean in recent years, but that hasn’t translated into success in the CONCACAF region yet. For a nation of its size, Jamaica boasts a roster largely dominant of international players, including nice from MLS and six from Norway, including the squads leading scorer, striker Luton Shelton (Valerenga, NOR), who has 30 goals in just 55 caps. LA Galaxy’s starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts will likely be in goal for the Reggae Boys as well.

Standings (W-D-L, Pts, GD)                                                     Results
HON - (2-1-0, 7pts, +5                                                              JAM 3-1 GRN
JAM - (2-1-0, 7pts, +3                                                               HON 2-0 GUA
GUA - (1-0-2, 3pts, -2                                                                JAM 2-1 GUA
GRN - (0-0-3, 0 pts, -6                                                               GRN 0-3 HON
                                                                                                         GUA 2-1 GRN
                                                                                                         HON 1-1 JAM

Another group that has the best matchup last means another group where the top two teams have likely already qualified for the knockout rounds. I think Guatemala has a chance to advance as they are currently ahead of Cuba in the third place tiebreaker on goal differential and I wouldn't be suprised if they pick up a draw against Jamaica. I think Grenada is just between a rock and a hard place, despite the fact that this could be the best group for them to advance in. For either Grenada or Guatemala to advance to the knockout, they have to win their matchup and steal a point from probably Jamaica. I don't see Honduras losing in their first two matchups.

Posted on: June 16, 2010 8:16 am

World Cup 2010 - Group H Preview

Unfortunately had to finish this one during the Chile-Honduras game, but luckily for me I did those two teams last night and finished Spain and Switzerland’s previews just now to finally wrap up my World Cup previews. God I wish I could get paid to do this instead of working a real job, but alas…and now, the final World Cup preview with Group H.

Group Previews - [A] / [B] / [C] / [D] / [E] / [F] / [G]

Chile [CHI] – Rankings (18 FIFA / 7 SPI)
Qualifying – CONEMBOL – Finished Second
Recent Matches – W 3-0 vs. Zambia; W 1-0 vs. N. Ireland; W 3-0 Israel

If you’re looking for a sleeper team in the World Cup, look no further. They’re favored to come out of the group behind Spain and since only teams from Europe and South America ever win this thing, why not? A potential knockout round match against Brazil could be looming, and Chile lost both games by a combined scoreline of 7-2. But this is a team with talent playing all over the world and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Honduras [HON] – Rankings (38 FIFA / 32 SPI)
Qualification – CONCACAF – Finished Third
Recent Matches – T 2-2 vs. Belarus; T 0-0 vs. Azerbaijan; L 0-3 vs. Romania

Honduras has certainly not looked good heading into the World Cup and might be one of the coldest, out of form teams in the tournament right now. Combine that with their qualification, gaining the final automatic berth when the USA scored a late goal to tie Costa Rica and this could be a recipe for disaster. Also, this is a roster that is full of domestic talent that will be facing the best in the world, and you have to wonder if this team can hold up.

Spain [ESP] – Rankings (2 FIFA / SPI)
Qualification – UEFA – Group Five Winners
Recent Matches – W 3-2 vs. Saudi Arabia; W 1-0 vs. S. Korea; W 6-0 vs. Poland

Say what you want about Spain and their lack of success in big international tournaments (see 2009 Confederations Cup), but this team has what it takes to go the distance. They have one of the most talented rosters in the world, they’re experienced and they’re in-form, something that can’t be said about all the favorites coming into this World Cup. Plus, they have a relatively easy draw and should have no problems in the Group Stage.

Switzerland [SUI] – Rankings (24 FIFA / 35 SPI)
Qualification – UEFA – Group Two Winners
Recent Matches – L 0-1 vs. Costa Rica; T 1-1 vs. Italy

Another relative unknown here is the Swiss, who won a rather tame qualification group that included Greece, Latvia and Israel. Featuring a roster full of European talent, this is a team that probably can compete with the best on any given day, but since they lack a lot of experience in major tournaments, they could be overlooked. Regardless, this is a team that could surprise some who are unprepared.


Sorry lads, but since the best game in the group should be meaningless, not much to see here.

PREDICTIONS                                     STANDINGS

HON 0-2 CHI                                       ESP 2-0-1, 7 pts, +4 GD
ESP 2-0 SUI                                         CHI 2-0-1, 7 pts, +3 GD
CHI 2-1 SUI                                          SUI 1-2-0, 3 pts, -2 GD
ESP 3-1 HON                                       HON 0-3-0, 0 pts, -5 GD

Spain [H1] and Chile [H2] move on to play Portugal [G2] and Brazil [G1] respectively.

I really think that by the final group of games this group will be finalized I don’t see any other teams threatening unless there’s a draw somewhere, probably by the Swiss. I fully expect to see the second teams for the Chile-Spain fixture and also expect a poor tournament from Honduras.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com