Tough, tough loss. The USA suffered from a stunning loss of creativity. What does it tell you when Jermaine Jones is the catalyst of the attack? His on the money chip found Clint Dempsey who had all kinds of time in the world to volley the ball home in the 35th minute.
The USA looked distinctly surprised when they went ahead against the run of play as Los Catrachos was clearly in the ascendancy and probing Tim Howard and the US defense hard with all kinds of close calls. The lead lasted just 5 minutes when Juan Carlos Garcia pulled a Wayne Rooney unleashing a stunning acrobatic bicycle kick after a cross was pinged back to him with the defense in disarray. That bit of sublimity was better than that of the Man Utd striker because he was clearly under pressure. But because he's Garcia from Honduras and not Rooney, epicentre of football, it will be referred to in two years time in a Rob Smyth article about bicycle kicks.
Honduras could have gone ahead for good when a goal by Carlos Costly was dubiously ruled offside. That decision fortunately did not prove costly as the New England Revs's Jerry Bengtson took advantage of some really poor defending to bang home the winner. Former MLS player, Roger Espinoza now at Wigan was a constant thorn testing the US defense with his twisting runs and snap shots.
The US desperately needed to stretch out the pitch. There was little of it given that Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson are the sort of bombing full backs that should have fed Jozy Altidore a steady diet of crosses or used cutbacks for Clint Dempsey or Michael Bradley to follow up. Which makes the lack of strategy even more remarkable. Instead the USA chose to go down the centre very, very slowly as Honduras capitalized on that predictability with some choice defending.
Klinsi was also playing safe with three holding midfielders. A draw would have been ideal but that pre-condition lay on the defense doing its job. Who knew the US back four would imbibe Arsenal with such vengeance? There is little that Tim Howard could do to legislate against such rank incompetency. Then there was the distinct lack of ambition with his substitutions. Leaving out Jose Francisco Torres and Hercules Gomez on the bench, two players who could bring something a little bit different.
All of this does not make the next round of fixtures any easier. The only saving grace is that El Tri were held to a goalless draw in the impregnable Azteca against Jamaica. Hey, Reggae Boyz, that was some great karma. Panama and Costa Rica fought to a two all standstill. The US has a very good chance of getting to Brazil but somehow even after more than a year and a half of Klinsi in charge, the most frustrating thing; we still don't know what works for the national team.