The United States kicked off its quest for CONCACAF Gold Cup glory with a tough 2-1 victory against Honduras. Honduras played a 5-4-1 and it seemed as if they would park the bus and play for a point, but this was not the case. The Hondurans came flying out of the gate and absolutely dominated the first 20 minutes of the match.
The U.S. was lucky not to concede early as Brad Guzan was forced to make a challenging save, off an Anthony Lozano shot, just 3 minutes into the game. Guzan was quickly forced into action again in the 7th minute, as Andy Najar ripped a shot from just outside the eighteen. Honduras then had multiple shots off target as it continued to press the U.S.
Finally, against the run of play, Clint Dempsey scored in the 25th minute. DeAndre Yedlin played a short corner to Bradley, who sent a cross into the box that the Honduran goalkeeper tipped into the air. Dempsey pounced on the ball heading into the back of the net and giving the U.S. the spark they desperately needed.
After Dempsey's goal, the U.S.A finally was able to possess the ball and create attacking chances. For the next 20 minutes the U.S. and Honduras traded shots and it wasn't until first half stoppage time that either team was able to create a truly great chance, as Andy Najar fired a shot just over the bar.
The second half kicked off with the USMNT still looking underwhelming, but performing better then they had in the match's opening 20 minutes. An unmarked Clint Dempsey doubled the U.S. lead in the 64th minute as he powerfully headed a Michael Bradley free kick into the back of the net.
Honduras then scored its lone goal of the night in the 69th minute after Carlos Discua simply glided past a mistimed Ventura Alvarado tackle at the top of the box and then slotted the ball near post to the right side of the net. Honduras pressured the U.S. as it looked for a late equalizer and had a golden opportunity in the 84th minute that just went wide of the post.
Despite a rather underwhelming performance, the USMNT was able to hold on for the 2-1 win giving it three points and the Group A lead. The team will look to perform better in its next match against Haiti on Friday.
The U.S. survived a terribly slow start to this game. For about the first 20 minutes, Honduras absolutely dominated the USMNT. Brad Guzan was forced to make two tough saves early in the match before the U.S.A even had a shot on target.
The team was quite lucky to avoid conceding a goal in the game's opening 20 minutes and while the U.S. did not concede early, it gave Honduras far too many chances. If a better team, such as Costa Rica or Mexico, is given as many chances as Honduras was given, the U.S. would surely be punished.
Set pieces played a big part in this match as both U.S. goals were scored off such plays. The balls Bradley played into the box on the short corner and free kick that the USMNT scored off of were excellent and his service makes the team a threat to score on almost any set piece in the attacking half. The U.S. will need to create better chances during the run of play but being able to score on set pieces is hugely beneficial to any team.
The U.S. not only was good at attacking set pieces, but was also highly effective on defending set pieces (particularly corners). Despite the team's proficiency at defending them, conceding nine corner kicks is not a good sign. The U.S.A has to work harder to prevent corners because as the players know set pieces can be deadly.
One player who clearly had a poor performance was Ventura Alvarado. Alvarado is certainly a talented player, but his inexperience on the international level was quite apparent. His partner in central defense John Anthony Brooks looked far more composed and Alvarado's inconsistent play made Brooks look like a seasoned veteran.
Alvarado was missing tackles all night and was beaten by his man 1v1 far too often. On Honduras' lone goal Alvarado was beaten on the edge of the box and as a defender you simply can't allow that to happen. If I were Jurgen Klinsmann, I would start Omar Gonzalez over Ventura Alvarado Friday against Haiti.