Americans Abroad Review: Cameron aids Stoke shock, Johannsson brilliant as usual

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The busiest Yanks were in England, though Holland saw Aron Johannsson’s star continue to rise and Stu Holden suffered another setback. Let’s dive right into this weeks Americans Abroad Review.

Jozy Altidore had even less reason to enjoy his club’s 3-1 loss to Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final, as the American striker was left out of the Match Day 18 altogether. While he’s been lauded for his work holding up the ball, his lack of proficiency as a striker is alarming for US and Sunderland fans alike.

Tim Howard picked up his 10th clean sheet of the season, but first in a month and a half, as Everton stymied West Ham by a 1-0 score at Goodison Park. The 10 shutouts match his total last season.

Brad Guzan didn’t keep it tidy early, allowing a Wes Hoolahan goal in the third minute thanks in large part to poor marking from his defense. But Aston Villa roared back with Christian Benteke leading Guzan’s Villans to a 4-1 win and moving them even closer to safety.

What else can be said about Geoff Cameron at Stoke City? As steady as you’d like, Cameron played 90 minutes in the back as the Potters shocked Arsenal 1-0. Cameron has now played the duration of all but one Premier League match for Stoke this season.

By the time Brek Shea subbed on for Barnsley in the 55th minute of their derby match against Huddersfield Town, the Tykes were down 3-0. It didn’t get any better with the blonde-haired speedster in the lineup, as Barnsley fell 5-0 and dropped in a precarious 23rd place in the Championship. And then… there’s the matter of his alleged obscene gesture toward his own team’s supporters.

Danny Williams played 90 in the back for Reading as they pulled to within a point of sixth-place Wigan in their fight for a spot in the Championship playoffs by drawing Duane Holmes (73 minutes) and Yeovil Town. Nottingham Forest was beaten soundly by Wigan, 4-1, and Eric Lichaj came out of the game with injury.

Birmingham City fell to Ipswich Town by a 1-0 margin, but Yank defenders Will Packwood and Jonathan Spector each played the entire contest, with Spector picking up a yellow card for a bad foul. Oguchi Onyewu played a strong match for Sheffield Wednesday in its 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Tim Ream also got 90 for Bolton, and almost opened the scoring with a header in the 4th minute before the Wanderers cruised to a 4-0 win over Blackburn. The Wanderers are now nine points out of the relegation zone, but the trouble more Americans will be concerned with has to do with Stu Holden. He suited up for Bolton’s U-21s on Monday in an attempt to comeback from his myriad injuries… and left after 22 minutes with an apparent knee injury.

Aron Johannsson was your proverbial man on a mission in AZ Alkmaar’s match against RKC Waalwijk. He upped his assists to 14 on the season by picking up two in the match. While he didn’t add to his goal total of 25, Johannsson was credited with attempting seven shots. Yes, seven. Altidore beware. This was all on the heels of playing 74 minutes in the Europa League tie against Slovan Liberec… so he’s got that whole “valuable” thing going for him.

Staying in the Eredivisie, FC Utrecht kept Juan Agudelo as an unused substitute in its 1-1 draw with Twente. In Belgium, Sacha Kljestan also didn’t play after making the bench for Anderlecht in a 2-0 win over Genk.

It’s two goals in three matches for Terrence Boyd, though the tally came in Rapid Vienna’s 6-3 loss to Red Bull Salzburg. Boyd played 62 minutes in the loss. Ale Bedoya played 67 minutes in Nantes 2-0 defeat at Evian, while Jermaine Jones finally got on the pitch Besiktas, playing 58 minutes in the Turkish club’s scoreless draw against Antalyaspor.

It wasn’t as busy as usual for Yanks in Germany as Steve Cherundolo and Timothy Chandler continue to fight injuries. Fabian Johnson played the first 87 minutes for Hoffenheim in its 6-2 win against Wolfsburg, and was at right back yet again. John Anthony Brooks did not play for Hertha Berlin in a 0-0 home draw with Freiberg.

Last but not least: watch DaMarcus Beasley turns on the jets to score Puebla’s winner this weekend.

Hernandez, Araujo score in 1st half, Mexico beats Costa Rica

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Javier Hernandez and Nestor Araujo scored in the first half, and Mexico overcame the absence of half a dozen players to beat Costa Rica 2-0 on Friday night in a World Cup qualifying match.

Hernandez scored on a cross from Carlos Vela to open the score in the seventh and Araujo added a goal on a header in the 45th.

[ USMNT: Recap & videoPlayer ratings ]

Hernandez scored his 46th goal with the Mexican team and tied Jared Borgetti as the all-time leading scorer.

With the win, Mexico remains undefeated and has seven points after three rounds to take sole command in the six-nation tournament. Costa Rica stays on six points and is second and Panama is third with four.

The top three teams qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Mexico beat Costa Rica for the first time since September 11, 2012, when they prevailed 1-0.

Running Away With It

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Christian Pulisic scored and played a part in three other goals as the United States rained goals down on Honduras in a 6-0 win at Avaya Stadium in San Jose early Saturday morning.

Clint Dempsey scored two goals, and Michael Bradley and Sebastian Lletget also scored as the U.S. moved into fourth place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Their next match is Tuesday in Panama.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Three things ]

The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes got off to a flying start.

Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal. Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.

The Yanks didn’t stop, and Lletget drew a yellow card when he beat Ever Alvarado down the right flank and forced a take down from the Honduran defender.

Alberth Elis slipped John Brooks’ mark, and the Houston Dynamo man turned to fire on goal. Tim Howard was well positioned to scoop it up.

Lletget turned out to be injured by the Alvarado foul, and Bruce Arena turned to Alejandro Bedoya in the 17th minute.

Geoff Cameron was given a yellow card in the 25th minute for a foul on Roger Espinoza. That gave a free kick to Honduras from 30 yards out, and Romell Quioto fired right at Tim Howard.

Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.

It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.

What. A. Pass. Kid.

Honduras then took a bigger hit: the loss of star attacker Romell Quioto (Houston Dynamo) to an apparent shoulder injury.

Brooks bailed out an out-of-position Gonzalez just before halftime to keep the lead 3-0.

The Yanks needed 15 seconds to make it 4-0, with Dempsey winning a 50-50 tussle and finding Altidore for a flick to Pulisic. He netted his fourth USMNT goal. He’s 18.

Pulisic then won a free kick 25 yards out from goal by embellishing a foul, and Dempsey’s free kick tricked Escober. 6-0. For real.

A scary moment late as a dazed and wobbly John Brooks was forced off despite no apparent injury. Fox’s Jenny Taft said he was dehydrated, which is a relief.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks (Ream, 70′), Cameron (Zusi, 58′); Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.

Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′, 49′, 54′), Pulisic (46′)

 

Player ratings from USMNT’s pounding of Honduras

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Battered. Throttled. Eviscerated.

Pick your verb of dominance, the United States likely fit it well in a 6-0 destruction of Honduras at Avaya Stadium in San Jose.

[ MORE: Recap + video | Three things ]

The win boosts the U.S. in World Cup qualifying after their 0-2 start, but how did the individuals fare? Obviously well.

Starting XI

Tim Howard — 7 — The team just feels in a safer place with the veteran back there. If the U.S. goes to the 2018 World Cup, Howard remains their No. 1 (and there probably never should have been a question. Sorry Brad).

Jorge Villafana — 7 — Tidy passing and a low-risk game from the Santos Laguna man.

John Brooks (Off 70′) — 7 — An early error before recovering to be his usual free-clearing, athletic self. Scary injury took him out late, as he looked dazed. Fox’s Jenny Taft said he was dehydrated, which is a relief.

Omar Gonzalez — 5  — He wasn’t bad, but Gonzalez is still a positional question mark. Bailed out a couple times by Brooks.

Geoff Cameron (Off 59′) — 6 — Out of position and a bit hobbled, he wasn’t at his best.

Michael Bradley — 7 — One of his better USMNT games in a long time.

Sebastian Lletget (Off 17′) — 8 — Scored, then got hurt on a roasting run down the right.

Darlington Nagbe — 6 — One or two electric moments in the first half, but overall a quiet enough night for the Timbers man.

Christian Pulisic — 9 — Hard to not to hand the kid a 10. He’s quite frankly the most exciting American talent in the history of the program.

Clint Dempsey — 10 — Along with Howard, the sort of player you knew would make sure this game ended with three points. The fact that he nabbed three goals, too, is just a bonus.

Jozy Altidore — 7  — Pretty darn good night holding up the ball, and passed as well as ever, but did he drop a bit too deep too often? The answer is probably, “Who cares? They won 6-0, dude.”

Subs

Alejandro Bedoya (On 18′)  — 6 — Typical high energy, space eating job in the middle of the park from the Union man.

Graham Zusi (On 58′)  — 6 — Good late clearance preserved the shutout.

Tim Ream (On 70′)  — 6 — Interesting to note that Arena went to him over Walker Zimmerman or Matt Besler.

Three things to take away from USMNT 6-0 Honduras

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The United States men’s national team pulled a Leicester City.

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That’s a joke with truth wrapped around it, because the Yanks have had plenty of time and even a pair of friendlies to respond from the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann.

But in their first serious match without their old coach, the U.S. looked a team renewed and unleashed. Now the Americans may find themselves back in an automatic World Cup qualifying spot with a win on Tuesday in Panama.

Things change.

Vindicated

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and all of the USMNT players waited months and months to get the chance to answer their critics following a pair of embarrassing losses to open the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Sure, having Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron, and Tim Howard back helped a whole lot, and the seasoning Christian Pulisic is getting at Borussia Dortmund is unquestionably good for an 18-year-old.

But there’s little doubt Michael Bradley and Co. were fired up to silence their critics. Whether they admit it or not, this is a bunch that was stung by those who said they failed their old coach.

Most expected the U.S. to get a point or better against Honduras, but to do it the way they did is an unexpected bonus. A win in Panama on Tuesday would boost them into the Top Three.

And don’t worry, the old boss was pleased for his former charges.


The future is now…

I Tweeted the following after a late second half pass from Pulisic, and there was little disagreement.

Pulisic won’t be credited with an assist for his shot which rebounded to Sebastian Lletget for the opener, but he will walk away with his fourth international goal and two proper assists.

One was an absurd scoop to Clint Dempsey’s chest, and the other was a long avenue that shouldn’t have existed. Still, Pulisic found that street and provided an absolutely dynamic force all over the park.

There have been U.S. teens at big European clubs, and U.S. teens who’ve made impacts on the national team, but never both at the same time and never both at this level. Pulisic is for real, and finding his ceiling is an adventure we’re all undertaking with great enjoyment.


…But the legends sure helped

Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard will go down as two of the most important players in United States men’s national team history.

Actually, they may be duking it out for Nos. 1 and 2 when it’s all said and done.

Dempsey’s hat trick was his career in a nutshell. The first saw him body off a defender while collecting a Pulisic pass off his chest, then lashing a shot with power despite said defender dragging him down.

The second was a burst of speed to run onto Pulisic’s through ball and classic calm in the face of an onrushing keeper, holding onto the ball before sliding it home from an acute angle.

The third was this free kick. A bit aided by goalkeeper Donis Escober, but such is life.

And don’t sleep on Howard’s early performance as Honduras tried to find some sort of foothold in the match. Always well-positioned, the team just feels safer with the Colorado Rapids man between the sticks.