Another functional victory

USA 1-0 Honduras

Eddie Johnson (45)

USA: Joe Cannon (Kevin Hartman 46) - Chris Albright, Chad Marshall, Pablo Mastroeni (Kerry Zavagnin 85), Nat Borchers - Pat Noonan (Bobby Convey 63), Clint Mathis (Kyle Martino 63), Steve Ralston - Eddie Johnson, Brian Ching. Subs not used: Jon Busch (GK), Brian Mullan, Taylor Twellman.

Honduras: Junior Morales - Milton Reyes (Mauricio Sabillon 46), Maynor Figueroa, Sergio Mendoza, Erick Vallecillo - Ivan Guerrero, Carlos Moran (Mario Gomez 56), Elmer Marin, Walter Lopez (Elkin Gonzalez 74) - Denilson Costa (Wilmer Velasquez 69), Milton Nunez. Subs not used: Henry Enamorado (GK), Cristian Garden.

Well, this doesn't prove much other than to say that our B-teamers can pretty effectively smother theirs. While I think it's only very recently that our boys could legitimately claim to have any strength in depth, it's quite obvious that we're lucky compared to Honduras. The visitors' starting XI would give anyone in the region a tough game, but their lack of depth - especially in terms of attacking options - is pretty thin. They're decent in defense...and if this Morales isn't their starting goalkeeper, maybe he should be. Other than that, though, they almost never seriously threatened a rather makeshift American defense.

However, to be fair, I refer back to my old rule that "Just because you've never heard of them doesn't mean they're not good." And, I certainly haven't heard much about guys like Marshall and Borchers. But, surely, it's not like we had a backline out there of Bocanegra-Pope-Gibbs-Cherundelo.

That said, our guys controlled most of the ball, and at times scythed through the Honduran defense with relative ease. I'll tell you what...this kid Johnson is for real. He's got 7 goals in 6 caps now (20th on the all-time list, the all-time leader is Eric Wynalda with something like 34), and despite the lack of truly quality opposition, I think he's going to really be something when he hits his prime. He's got great instincts, and most importantly, he always wants the ball. He wants and even seemingly needs to score goals, something you can't always say about guys we've had up top before.

The goal came a bit unexpectedly, though. With halftime looming, the ball pinballed out to Clint Mathis, about 30-35 yards from goal. Now, I've seen ol' Cletus sleepwalk his way through enough Metrostars matches to not expect much from him at this point. However, he proved people like me wrong with an absolute thunderbolt from that range...and, his dipping effort cruelly hit the crossbar. However, Morales had dived for it and missed (as would any other human on this planet), and was out of the play...Johnson got himself in the right place and made no mistake in tucking away the rebound for the game's only goal.

Other than that, it was continual domination with a somewhat disappointing level of finishing. It seems almost churlish to say, but Johnson should have had at least another, and I'm sure Ching should have had one as well (I didn't take paper notes for this game...sorry). Actually, I'd go so far as to say this was a snoozer...I watched most of the last 15 minutes in fast-forward.

So, the USMNT have two big WC qualifiers ahead, including The Big One...against Mexico at the Azteca Stadium. Realistically, a draw would be a fantastic result, and then we can worry about seeing off Guatemala three days later (a game we should win, but you never know with these things). For European readers of my blog, you have to understand just how bitter the USA-Mexico rivalry is. For a long time, we were kind of like the Austria to their Germany. They always beat us, and they always made sure to revel in it just that little bit more.

Now, I have no problem with Mexico or the Mexican people. Hell, most of my favorite boxers are Mexican. But, while those 11 footballers are out on the pitch, I fucking hate them with all the fury you can possibly imagine. I really want to stick it to them, just like we did in WC 2002. We've never beaten them at the Azteca, and I really, really, really hope that this is the time that we do it. All the big names for us should be there, so I think we have a real shot.


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