Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Live Blog: Yanks v Catrachos

Well, we're back at it again for the USMNT's World Cup qualifier v Honduras. I'm getting warmed up with a few Kalibers (it's a school night) and am trying to find some salve some balm some soothing remedy to take the edge off of having to listen to Alexi Lalas do his Devil's-advocate-moral-pedant-smug-I'm-that-much-more-clever-than-you-soccer-Confucius routine. Mercifully, these performances are separated by at least 45 minutes of relative calm, but I'm open to suggestions on what might do the trick. I'm hard on Alexi, but it's because I care.

To me, this photo says, "You know what, Ric Flair!"
Stay tuned! We'll (I'll) be back in about an hour. Come on you Yanks!

USMNT starting lineup: Howard, Johnson, Besler, Gonzalez, Evans, E. Johnson, Dempsey, Bradley, Jones, Zusi, Altidore.

DMB on the ban for accumulation of yellows. No Fab Johnson in the midfield. *Sniff*. I'm beginning to think our left back situation is a little like England's left winger curse. I mean seriously, what do we have to do to get a functional, steady left back? Beasley has been surprisingly good, but he's a stopgap. Fab Johnson always looks much better to me when he's allowed to run on the wings and play with the confidence that he knows there's someone there to put out fires behind him. If you're like 15 to 18 years old and you're somehow reading this and you carry a US passport and you have even an outside shot at being a professional caliber left back, MAKE THAT HAPPEN. In fact, stop reading this. Go outside and work on your fitness and your touch. If you have an older, bigger, faster brother, just try to win the ball off of him over and over again. Do it 1,000 times and then do it again. If this can take place in a misty forest or on a cloud shrouded mountain, all the better.  

Altidore could have a field day against the Honduras center backs. They're inexperienced and not quite the physical specimens Josmer is.

Honduras starting lineup: Valladares, Peralta, Colon, Montes, Izaguirre, Claros, Palacios, Martinez, Espinoza, Najar, Costly.

Side note: How the H do you make accents and tildes and umlauts and whatnot on Blogger whilst using a Mac?! Seriously, I need to know.

Over/under 60% chance the telecast catches Bengston dressed as Elvis in the nosebleeds at Rio Tinto? Also, Gonzalez and Besler cannot allow Costly to find space between them or it could prove...wait for it...costly. I'll be here all night.

What's the general sentiment on the US short sleeved Henley shirts with the stars pocket? Love 'em? Hate 'em? Better than the '94 World Cup kit? I think I could get much more onboard with them if they were paired with these -

Whoa! Twellsy looks decidedly scruffy and weathered. Sort of a Marlboro Man/J Crew model/Mad Men mash up. Don't like the polka dot pocket square with the plaid shirt though. It's just a little too much for me. Other than that, looking dapper, Taylor. Looking dapper.

Just noticed Old Glory is essentially the same thing as Twellsy's pocket square/plaid shirt faux pas. Crap. Is our flag busy?! Do we have a busy flag?!

Here we go! Teams walking out on the field and...holy shit! Manuel Noriega is the center official!

Espinoza must be thinking, "Crap, these jerseys look just like Wigan's."

Well, we're off.

2' Free kick for USMNT. Zusito take. Deuce still hasn't hooked him up with Tottenham's hair guy. I'm beginning to think Zusi WANTS to look like an Omaha soccer mom. His choice, I suppose.

4' Deuce with an insect in his eye? An insect? Y'all, Honduras brought insects. Insects!

5' Honduras is already looking more capable than Panama did. I can't help but wonder how much the absence of Blas Perez defanged them. Perhaps the goalfest v a German C team and the comfortable win over a Panama side lacking a pointy end to its stick have been given too much weight.

8' Of course I say that and then we narrowly miss two decent chances at the other end.

9' That was well done by Bradley, but I don't want to see him have to dribble five guys in the middle of the field very often.

10' You knew that was coming! JJ with the yellow. Looks a little off the pace, but just as ill-tempered as always.

13' Panama's midfield < Honduras's midfield.

I'll be honest, this is an alarming start. Some rash challenges flying in. Bradley had a studs up effort right before Fab wrote his name in the book with what I thought was a lesser offense. Everyone's got a case of the Joneses.

17' Outstanding combination play through the midfield ending in a good Altidore chance. Seeing eye pass from Bradley and a good one touch ball outside to Fab. Shades of Altidore's Panama goal...minus the end result of course.

18' DEUCE! I would have put my house on him getting his head on that and putting it in the net. I would have lost my house. Full disclosure: I do not own a house.

Does Jozy have a touch of Kanye about him? In the face, I mean? Yeezus.

25' There's a sniper in the stands.

Match has hit a bit of a disjointed spell. Both sides have sort of weathered one another's storm and now things have settled into a series of sixty yard passes to no one.

28' Jozy did great work to try to win that back and I love it, but that probably should have been a yellow. Honduras is loving this script right now.

31' Well, they're booing Costly, but it looks like he's legitimately pulled his calf. This is going to be...wait for it...costly for Honduras. I know, I know. You're in stitches.

32' And here's the change. Rojas on for Costly. Is there a way to take back the "Stop being a pussy"chant?

33' JJ with a strong run forward up the right channel and he wins a foul on the edge of the Honduras penalty area. Deuce with the strike but he pings it off a Honduran forehead.

36' The range of passing here is impressive and EJ did well to stay onside and get behind the Honduran defense. However, that seems to be plans A through Z right now and we're playing Honduras at home. Like I said before, the wins over Germany and Panama were awesome, but they may have been more curb appeal and less dry basement. That's a home buying analogy.

40' Jozy's effort is there, but it's being channeled for evil instead of good right now. He's fighting an inner battle between AZ Jozy and USMNT Jozy.

A US goal just before half time would be huge.

41' A short corner? Really? And no service? They know Colon is 5'7 right? Right?

45' Just after Deuce and Jozy narrowly miss combining, Gonzalez blacks out and has his one requisite calamitous moment. Howard bails him out and then eats a chunk of his ass. In fairness to Gonzo, it was a bad giveaway to begin with, but his failure to close is inexcusable.

Well, there's half time. I feel like the Yanks were maybe a little too keen on themselves following the Panama dismantling. Honduras is doing a very good job closing down the passing lanes and hammering whichever US player is in possession nearly as soon as he crosses midfield and certainly when he receives the ball with his back to goal. US has been unlucky on a number of occasions to not connect with the final ball or spring the offside trap with a long ball over the top.

Having said that, Honduras is more than a little bit in this match and should be up 1-0 courtesy of some slack defending.

Takeaways: Gonzo does his best work unopposed. I need my Johnsons in the midfield. Everyone has a case of the Joneses. Twellsy's pocket square and shirt combo still hasn't grown on me.

If I had a red phone to Jurgen (I don't) I leave the side on the field unchanged. I get Cameron and Kljestan moving though and think about bringing Davis on for EJ.

I hate to say this, but I just had a premonition. US red card.

45' Why in Sam Hill did Evans play that ball all the way back? Free in the right channel and had an opportunity to get it in the box.

48' There's that same too long long ball.

49' Good ball in from Zusi, but Gonzo couldn't steer it home. Ian Darke just informed me that Gonzo was a college striker. My world makes so, so, so, so much more sense. Besler is still my horse. He's a little horse. Not quite a miniature pony, but a little guy. Like one of those horses the Comanches rode. Fast, strong, but not much to look at. Yeah, that's it. Besler is a Comanche horse.

I feel like the fans in Utah are the same fans from Seattle, but that they've been up this whole time and now reek of cigarettes, light beer, and NoDoz.

If you're Wilson Palacios and you're a hatchet man and you can't get into the Stoke City side...well, I don't know.

56' Great ball in from Zusi off the set piece and Evans should have buried that. Hit it right at the keeper. Also, did anyone notice Twellsy make zero sense there? Said, "That ball needs to go right back where it came from, the back of the net." It came from the back of the net? Polk dot pocket square and plaid shirt? Those concussions were legit.

And on cue, there's a shot of Davis and Cameron warming up.

59' Goal disallowed for offside on Altidore, but that was bright move.

Dempsey's touch is just on a different level than any other US player. Looks effortless.

61' That was a horribly ill-advised pass from JJ. Could have been a goal for Honduras. Bring on Cameron.

63' Holy shit! Hand of God there! Or at least John the Baptist. This match has that feel about it. And by "that feel" I, of course mean the "it's-just-not-our-day" feel.

Ooh! I figured it out. Graham Zusi is a young Mel Kiper Jr. Hang on, I'll Google a pic...

Add a headband and subtract 20 year. Zusi.

69' Match is starting to get stretched a bit.

70' Remember what I said about "that feel"? Dempsey and then Bradley should have scored.

With Zusi finding so much joy down the left, it seems unlikely Davis will come on now to replace Johnson. I like Davis, but Zusi is having a field day over there and Davis's right foot is just for standing on. Like, literally. He has a handicapped placard in his car because he will literally fall over if he stands on one foot. Scout's honor.

73' ALTIDORE! And it came from Johnson getting forward. Please, please, please, please, please always let my Fab Johnson play on the left wing.

75' Well, what do I know. I'm surprised Zusi is coming off because he's been our fire starter going forward in the second half. I completely understand Cameron for Jones though. Boniek Garcia is on for Honduras as well. Still remember watching the original Boniek play on old VHS cassettes. Cat could ball.

78' Jozy almost had two. Great cut back and then a decent strike forces the keeper into a save.

80' There's my Besler...er, little horse. But like a badass little horse. Don't forget.

Cameron has to be giving Klinsman something to think about. He looks very sharp in midfield and his range of passing, at least in the last two matches, doesn't seem to be too lacking in relation to Jones. I think his versatility is working against him.

83' Cameron started that move with great, calm play under pressure and then a good pass out to Davis who won the corner.

84' Besler. Comanche horse.

87' Castillo on for EJ. Edgar looks like a little kid from a cereal commercial to me. I just can't take the tattoos seriously. I used to use my mom's makeup when I was a kid to paint gruesome black eyes on my face in order to look like I'd been doing some cool, tough, guy shit. In retrospect, people probably either thought I was a future drag queen or, if I'd done an exceptionally good makeup job that day, that my parents were routinely beating the hell out of me. Anyway, what am I trying to say? Oh yeah, Edgar Castillo's tattoos just don't look right. He's like a kid playing dress-up. Or black eye up. Whatever.

93' Cameron again with good play pushing forward.

This should do it.

95' Look at Jozy getting back there and putting in a tackle! Kid could be on the cusp of something HUGE, both for the national team and in his club career.

Well, that was an escape. The first half was poor and I don't think there's any other way to paint that. Team seemed disjointed and half awake. Credit where credit is due, however. The side fought back in the second half and willed its way to a goal and those are the sorts of games that make good teams good teams.

Just listening to the Jozy interview at the end of the match. Hint of a Dutch lisp there? Or have I just never noticed how pronounced Josmer's speech particularities are?

Takeaways: This team can win ugly with lots of miles in its legs. Besler is a Comanche horse and I love him (minus the giveaway). Lil Edgar Castillo is adorable and not at all believable with his tattoos. Zusi has to be the Man of the Match. Minus his God awful hairstyle, he was a terror on the left flank in the second half and it seemed like all the dangerous US moves came through him. I have to believe the Davis substitution was decided upon before the goal and I can't blame Klinsy for wanting to get some fresh legs in there, but Zusi was seemingly at the apex of his purple patch. That's a pretty weak criticism though.

It would be easier to go after the effort, tactics, and general disjointed appearance of the team in the first half, but with all the recent matches, players out with yellow card accumulation, and Jones coming back from a spell on the sideline with a concussion, it would really be just bitching for bitching's sake and no one likes that.

If anything, tonight's match showed how important Fabian Johnson is to the team as a left sided midfielder. When he was able to get forward, it wasn't as noticeable, but without Johnson on the left providing width and a consistent threat with his service, the team looked narrow and far too reliant on Michael Bradley picking out a run from Dempsey, Altidore, or EJ to spring the offside trap. I have to wonder if Altidore's comments after the match, something along the lines of "[Johnson's] been doing that all year for his club in Germany," were intended as kind of an extra nudge to make sure he gets penciled into that spot as a regular. And yes, I know he was playing at left back, but what he provides defensively in no way warrants what you give up going forward if you start him at left back. The "you" being Klinsy. I see no reason why Lil Edgar couldn't have started there and allowed Johnson more freedom to go forward from the first whistle. Especially since the match was a home one and the side was riding a comfortable high, in no small part due to Fab Johnson's contributions on the flank.

I'm splitting hairs now. Three points. Boom!

Thanks for reading and commenting. Come on you Yanks!


  1. Not in the squad. He's fragile, apparently.

  2. Serious question for danger and his constituents: Would the U21 Spain team beat this US team by 2 or 3 goals?

  3. I don't need time with my club team I can dominate on pure hairstyle alone

  4. Lets get some more talk about dry basements

  5. Thanks for reading, Brek. Spray painting shoes? And "dry basement" sounds suspiciously like something that you could look up on Urban Dictionary...and Bob Vila always struck me as the kind of guy who would.

  6. Darin, it's a fair question. I want to get all defensive, grab a 2x4, put on my American flag jorts, daub a little diesel fuel behind my ears, grow a mullet, and kick your commie ass, but it's a fair question.

  7. Not yet, but If JJ gets another foul, it may be too late.

  8. Honduras' coach appears to be wearing some form-fitting Ed Hardy shit that truly accentuates the belly

  9. Nothing looks better on a belly than gothic lettering and big eagle. Power to him.

  10. Hondurans fouling pretty freely so far this half

  11. Love the "you suck asshole" chant from our fans after the goalie boots it

  12. Man of the match so far--Zusi or Besler? Or Altidore?

  13. I will actually go Besler but I might be biased for defenders

  14. Wow, Celo, Shea, and Bob Vila in one night? I have arrived.

  15. I have to go Zusi for man of the match. He was a terror in the second half and got Jozy great service. He's the lynchpin for me.