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Stock falling: Which U.S. men needed to be better …

Feb 6, 2013, 7:50 PM EDT

FBL-WC2014-QUALIFIERS-HON-USA

This is where we typically post a “Stock Up, Stock Down” piece, assessing which players’ personal standing rose, and whose fell during an important U.S. international match.

Clearly, an opener in final round World Cup qualifying deserves ear-marking as “important.”

Trouble is, as the United States picked a terrible time to deliver a real clunker, it’s hard to see any stock rising from Wednesday’s 2-1 loss in San Pedro Sula.

A few might have held serve. Clint Dempsey, scorer of the lone U.S. goal, comes to mind. Otherwise …

Let’s look at who needed more out there at Estadio Olimpico.

Omar Gonzalez: In his first World Cup qualifying start, Gonzalez’s defending was usually good enough, that killer case of ball watching on Honduras’ game winner (we talked more about it in the previous post) as the obvious exception.

The bigger problem was in his passing from the back. Looking somewhat nervous initially, the LA Galaxy man completed just four of 10 passes before halftime, and that’s simply not good enough.

Meanwhile, for all his physical ability, Gonzalez’s game just lacks that little bit of maturity. He’s got to find it fast, or he will lose Klinsmann’s trust.

(MORE: Further discussion of the Gonzalez/Carlos Bocanegra choice)

Danny Williams: If the young German-American is going to be Klinsmann’s holding midfield go-to, he’s got to raise that game a notch. Williams simply was not assertive enough, unwilling to scramble some eggs in there, to apply a little more selective midfield pressure and, generally, make that area a real SOB for the home team.

The heat surely had something to do with timid tackling and an outing that lacked the intensity and the bite commensurate of the moment. (It’s final round World Cup qualifying!) He has to find a way to impact the game, if not through clear distribution, then through knocking a couple of guys on their Honduran backsides.

Perhaps it was sheer fatigue, but Maurice Edu came in to replace Williams early in the second half; we seldom see changes in the holding midfield spot when things are going well.

Michael Bradley: The Roma man actually did OK. The problem here was in his effectiveness compared to Roger Espinoza, the engine room of Honduras’ busy midfield. Espinoza delivered the kind of commanding, driving, leave-it-all-out-there performance we usually see from Bradley, probably the most important figure in a U.S. shirt now.

Bottom line: We’ve seen better from Bradley, and will again.

(MORE: U.S. Man of the Match – by default – Michael Bradley)

Eddie Johnson: Stationed on the left wing last fall against Antigua and Barbuda, and then again at home against Guatemala, Johnson was adequate as a left-sided attacker, one who worked inside frequently. But I warned back then that it wasn’t a solid plan against tougher competition ahead in the final round of regional qualifying. Sure enough …

He just isn’t strong enough in possession to play that close to his own goal. And he certainly isn’t a creative influence in there. Sacha Kljestan’s introduction for Johnson in the 65th minute was surely about improving the non-existent U.S. midfield possession.

That was a bad choice by Klinsmann and a tough ask for Johnson, so we should probably limit his personal demerits.

(MORE: What we learned about the United States from Wednesday’s match)

Sacha Kljestan and Graham Zusi: Both players came in as second half subs. We think. Let me check …

Yes! The box score says so.

If this is to be their role, as second-half game-changers, they’ll need something a little more zippy than what we saw Wednesday.

In fairness, the heat and humidity had zapped so much life from what was a pretty messy, shapeless match all along. And with such humble U.S. passing out of the back, combined with the fact that neither U.S. outside back dared get forward (they probably wouldn’t have had the legs or lungs to get back) there were limited chances for either man. Still, it’s on them to find a way.

Tim Howard: As mentioned in the previous post, if he comes flying off the line for a through ball, he has to get it. That’s it.

  1. mkbryant3 - Feb 6, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    And Chandler? Holy Schneikies! He totally laid a turd. Where was that marauding presence we knew from before? The dude was lethargy with a kapital L. I remember him getting toasted in the corner just before that sweet bike.

    The whole game was kind of strange. The US team looked super tired from very early in the game.

    • Steve Davis - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      I kind of want to give Chandler and Johnson a pass. I don’t believe they were told to make attacking a priority here. They were surely instructed to be conservative, and were probably afraid of running out of gas too quickly if they tried sprinting up and down.

      • mrstev - Feb 6, 2013 at 10:27 PM

        Chandler…A PASS?
        Those Honduran attackers worked him like a shift. Yes, he may have been told not to push up too often, but his defennding was miserable. He’s not gonna fill Cherundolo’s boots.
        I actually thought Eddie Johnson looked dangerous at times and Jones put in fair effort.

        Altidore was draggin’ an anvil around from the opening whistle. He didn’t look like he wanted to be there…but in fairness he wasn’t the only one.

        Passion lacking all around. Guess it was the humidity (ha!).

      • wfjackson3 - Feb 6, 2013 at 11:01 PM

        I don’t know mrstev. I thought Altidore worked pretty well. He made good runs, he didn’t jog much until the final 15. I saw lots of work from him.

  2. pensfan603 - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Omar has never played with Cameron before and Honduras freakin made it to the Semis of Olympics scoring 3 goals a game they had one huge mistake get over it.
    Daniel Williams, i agree i dont know why klinsman put him in
    Micheal Bradley played what you expect him to, if you think he was going to be a play maker you obviously dont know this team, graham Zusi or Sacha Klejstan are here for that.
    Eddie Johnson- Remind me the formation he normally plays in?
    Sacha Klejstan- Ya put him in a outside mid position where he is mainly told to cover for Johnson the whole time real smart Klinsman, Zusi or Adu should of been where he was it would of gave defensive stability so Johnson could attack.
    Zusi- I think someone brought up in the broadcast that Klinsmann thinks Zusi needs to be making bigger players more often instead of just burst at certain points, id agree, he disappears sometimes, but part of that is because he is better at defensive mid role or mainly just in center mid, but when you look at the roster ahead he probably wont be playing there.

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