Yessir, USA defeat Honduras in what was a splendid match from start to finish!
It was closer than many would have expected, but the USA was able to advance to the CONCACAF Nations League Final after defeating Honduras 1-0 Thursday in Denver, Colorado, and will take on Mexico this Sunday to determine the champion of the competition.
The Nation’s League
The Nations League was established in 2017 and combines the usual excitement of international competitions with the battle for promotion and relegation seen in domestic leagues, creating a unique experience for all countries involved.
Every team is split into one of three tiers, labeled A, B, and C, each comprised of four groups, eventually allowing the group winners in Tier A to compete in a four-team knockout tournament while teams in Tiers B and C must fight to move up or keep their place within the tiered system.
The USA is by far the largest country in the CONCACAF but has failed to capitalize on this advantage and allowed teams such as Mexico and Costa Rica to establish power in the area.
Times Are Changing for Team USA
For all of the disappointment that Team USA has produced, their golden generation appears to be forming right in front of their eyes. Players such as Christian Pulisic of Chelsea, Gio Reyna of Borussia Dortmund, Weston McKennie of Juventus, Sergino Dest of Barcelona and Zack Steffen of Manchester City are some of the brightest young stars in world football (soccer) and have the potential to lead a sweep of participation and admiration in the American system.
The United States are now 6-1 over their last seven games dating back to November 2020, though they have not faced a team as powerful as Mexico during this stretch; if they play the way they did against Honduras on Sunday, the match should be Mexico’s for the taking.
USA Defeat Honduras | A Short Recap
The USA dominated the possession stat 65% to 35% but was unable to convert this advantage into clear opportunities, finishing with the same amount of shots on target (four) as Honduras.
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Gio Reyna had one of the best looks at goal during the 10th minute after slaloming past a couple of defenders inside the 18-yard box but pulled his shot wide, much to the disappointment of his visibly frustrated coach, Gregg Berhalter.
The red, white, and blue also had a few well-worked set pieces but could not convert any of these chances either, showing the clear disparity between them and the more seasoned team in the world.
Christian Pulisic is the most seasoned finisher on the side at just 22 years of age, and although he looked lively down the left-wing, he could not produce any real moments of magic. Pulisic was crowned winner of the Champions League six days ago and made an impact after being brought on as a substitute in the 66th minute.
Josh Sargent was quiet up top but had an important goal-line clearance in the 27th minute after a square header put the ball in the danger area with the goalie Steffen nowhere to be found. Honduras soon got a second crack at a teasing ball inside the six-yard box, but Anthony Lozano’s stretching effort failed to make any noticeable contact with the ball.
Lozano caused quite a few problems for the high line of the USA defense in the second half, mixing in runs behind the back four with some great link-up play. If the Honduras players had any more composure in front of goal, they could have easily scored three or four goals, all of which would have been justified.
The breakthrough moment for Siebatcheu, who did not start the game, came when defender John Brooks chipped a pass to the right side of the Honduras box, at which time Weston McKennie looped in a header towards the penalty spot, finding Siebatcheu all alone after he had wriggled free from his defender.
Siebatcheu managed to power a header into the top right corner of the attacking net and sealed the USA’s place in the final.
Defeating Mexico will be a tall order for this USA squad: they will need to rely on more individual artistry from their wingers, and the backline cannot be penetrated so easily by a much more potent Mexican attack.
Midfielders McKennie and Sebastian Lletget must drop in deep and support the defenders, or else they will be overwhelmed by Mexico’s aggressive 3-4-3 system that encourages overloads on the flanks and allows midfielders the opportunity to make runs through the channels on either side of the center-backs.
This could be a momentous victory for the USA and the development of their talented young core and would be a warning sign of potential danger heading into the 2022 World Cup.
Grant Mitchell is a sportswriter and multimedia contributor for the Sports 2.0 Network dealing with basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports: you can connect with him on Twitter @milemitchell to stay up to date with the latest sports news and to engage personally with him.