Samuel's Soccer Safe Space for Stoolies
Hello dearest haters,
Did you miss me? I know you didn’t but that’s okay. I’m back to pinch off another soccer blog directly into your eyeballs and there is nothing you can do to stop me – except not click… but if you’re reading this, welp, too late.
Anyway, the Summer of Soccer has officially arrived so you can expect a few blogs from me here and there previewing things like Euro 2020 [yes, it’s still called that] and Copa America… but for right now let’s turn our attention a little closer to home: USA versus Honduras in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinal.
No, this is not a friendly. Yes, this one actually matters.
Let’s start by quickly cleansing our palate and brain of…
USMNT 1-2 Switzerland (friendly)
Whatever this was on Sunday afternoon.
THE GOOD: Nothing… other than perhaps Evan Horvath, and it is NEVER a good thing when your only bright spot is a friggin keeper.
THE BAD: Just about everything. I am not handing out player grades because I don’t like failing people and I’m not really going to say much other than it was a bad performance against a good-but-by-no-means-great opponent. The US team has a lot of talent so perhaps our expectations were a little too high but long story short they looked disjointed on offense, mostly overrun in midfield and defense was a total mess.
That happens when you get a bunch of guys who haven’t played with one another together, ask them to train for a few days then play a decent opponent with plenty of experience.
In the end that game doesn't matter. It was a friendly. A lot of guys were playing together for the first time. Christian Pulisic was not there. Tyler Adams was not available. There are plenty more excuses but in the end they are just excuses. That's enough lipstick for this pig. Let's chalk it up as a learning experience and move on.
CONCACAF Nations League
"What the hell is it?"
It is a complicated competition that matters more to smaller countries that can move up and down in various groups, and was put in place a few years ago to minimize the number of “friendlies” that teams play and increase the number of “meaningful games”… but none of that matters to you and me.
For countries like the US, Mexico and Costa Rica the only thing that matters is CNL represents another secondary trophy to win that is less prestigious than CONCACAF Gold Cup. Winning it is better than not winning it. Period.
Also, more importantly, this competition gives us a chance to officially cap-tie guys like Yunus Musah (big dub) and will be our first legitimate chance to begin rendering judgment on The Gregg Berhalter Era.
USA vs Honduras
The roster is the same as was available against Switzerland – with the notable additions of Champions League final combatants Pulisic and Zack Steffen.
There are not too many questions about who is going to be out there for the US (barring Berhalter doing something wild). This is the XI that I would like to see:
DEFENSE: is more or less set… though Berhalter could go with Robinson at LB and move Dest over to RB. I’d also be okay with Miazga in for McKenzie but if GB starts Ream he should be fired on the spot.
MIDFIELD is a question mark. Adams’ health is the big unknown. If he is not ready than the obvious choice is either Jackson Yueill or Kellyn Acosta… unless GB wants to put McKennie in the DM spot, which is not out of the realm of possibility. Sebastian Lletget starting over Musah is also an option, as much as it would piss off the MLS haters in our midst.
FRONT THREE: also likely close to set, though there may be an outside shot that Weah could start in place of Reyna.
Honduras – Scouting Report
Honduras is always Honduras. They are like a hanger steak. They will never be filet mignon, and they know that, and can get the job done when asked. Hondruas work hard and have some speedy wingers who, if left to their own devices, can cause some problems. Anthony Lozano (Cadiz) and Alberth Elis (Boavista) are their two most dangerous players, but we have the speed on the edge to keep up with them. The biggest issue is the lack of communication we saw between CBs and DM in the Switzerland game. Hopefully another few days of prep work – and ideally the addition of Tyler Adams – could sort that out a bit. As much as I like John Brooks, he’s not going to win a foot race with Lozano or Ellis so it is up to his CB partner and the wing defenders to make sure that situation does not arise.
We are too godamn talented to lose this game. Period. This ain’t Mexico. This ain’t even Costa Rica. This is Honduras. I know it is not a real possibility that Berhalter job’s is on the line today but if we lose this game it would be a massive disappointment – more disappointing but less painful than not qualifying for the Olympics (if that makes sense) – and he would deserve every last bit of criticism that he would be getting on the twitters.
Thankfully we don’t gotta worry about that. My only question is whether we can keep the shutout. I am not so sure after the performance I saw against Switzerland (which could have finished 5-1 or even 6-1) but I’m no commie so….
Prediction: USMNT win 3-0
So there we have it. GO MERICA. More soccer to come. Euros and Copa America start next week. Preview coming soon(ish).