The US is currently in fourth place for the Hexagonal or the Fifth round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers. Now, that is a good place to be in coming into the last two weeks of the qualifiers, but the level of play isn’t there. If anything in Weeks 7 and 8 shows is that the defensive level is not there.
Lets go back to the Costa Rica game, in the first goal, there are 4 US players in the vicinity of Bryan Ruiz and there was no preasure whatsoever. One of those four is right there next to him, and later on the play there were two in the end of the play covering Marco Ureña. So Ruiz kicks the ball between the two center defenders to Ureña and he dribbled the ball a little to get open. Tim Howard the Goalie for the United States didn’t pressure Ureña, and left the other side of the goal wide open. So, Ureña profiled his shot and then kicked it to the open area for the goal. This isn’t that much of a big deal if it happened once in a match but this was the first of many wide openings for Costa Rica. In the 82nd minute, Cameron the right Center back, kicked the ball up where Costa Rica intercepted the ball to produce another opportunity. Gamboa, the Costa Rican midfielder, took the ball and kicked it up the field to hit Ureña in mid-stride to beat Cameron and Bradley. This time around Howard did pressure but too little too late, when Ureña hit nearly hit the post to the opposite side of Howard.
FIRST GOAL: USA vs COSTA RICA 9/1/17 (all photos are from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKWSclIGJgU)
Here is the beginning of the play of first goal, note how many white shirts (USMNT) are around the ball and the few red shirts (Costa Rica)
Here is when Ureña got the ball and how easy he can move to the side then move in to set up the shot
The shot of the first goal, note that Tim Howard doesn’t move any further or to the center when the ball is in the air, more on that in the next image.
SECOND GOAL: USA vs COSTA RICA 9/1/17
Here is the beginning of the second goal, note the space to the end line, but the ball was kicked up field
The interception and the genesis of the play
No pressure, moved up without any resistance, same for the next line of photos.
Left: ball was being kicked to Ureña, Right: The ball in the process, one white shirt could of stop the pass but did not do so
Left: Ureña receives the ball and in the Right: starts his run and profiles to score
Ball goes between the legs of Tim Howard sealing the game.
HONDURAS vs USA: 9/5/17 (Images from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biLsLkRR3XI&)
Here is the beginning of the Honduran goal, from now on White=Honduras, Red= US
This is a classic play where the midfielder kicks the ball up and the striker or winger receives it, and goes up the sideline and then crosses it
Here is when typically a cross will happen, but seeing that the player in white isn’t in the vicinity the Honduran goes a little more up
The defense is better than a game ago but the winger decided not to open the field but take the shot himself
Left: The start of the shot. Right: how the ball got passed by Brad Guzan
HONDURAS vs US: US GOAL 1-1 9/5/17
In this case, the Honduran wall wasn’t made correctly and there were more US players so that the rebound would be favorable for the US
There were more US players were able to get the rebound and start the play again
There are 3 players in front of the goal just to rebound and at the center left and right to cover all of the possible outcomes
Here is the cross to Bobby Wood so that he could score and equalize the game.
The Shot that equalized the game from Bobby Wood
As for my opinion, I think that the US is in a moderate chance of not going to the World Cup. I am not convinced that the offense and defense is up to par with the level of play that Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras possess, but their schedule isn’t as hard as Honduras’s. For the last two matches, the US plays Panama in Orlando and in Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras must play @Costa Rica ( a nation that has only drawn twice this round-Mexico and Panama) and against Mexico in San Pedro Sula. For Panama the remaining schedule is @United States and vs Costa Rica, out of all three teams vying the 3rd and 4th spots would be most likely Panama and the 4th spot WILL be decided in Week 10, either by the United States or Honduras. In order for the USMNT to make it out of the Hexagonal they must hear Alexi Lalas, a former USMNT player and implore on what he says.