It looked as if it was going to be one of those games for the US last night. The scoring was just not happening and the attack was moving at an annoying slow pace. Neither the US or Honduras was able to muster up a goal in the first half, with the Honduran defense definitely making things difficult for the US. The US defense was making sloppy mistakes that could have easily created easy opportunities for a goal, had the Honduran offense been more on point (and less injured).
This was not the US team performance that we’ve been accustomed to seeing in the past three games. And with the first half ending 0-0, it was clear that the team needed to pick up the tempo and fast. It was not until the 58th minute of the game, an offside call on Jozy Altidore, who was half a yard to early on a ball up from Eddie Jones that the US attack seemed to suddenly get a burst of energy. From the hands of US goalkeeper Tim Howard to Jones, who took the ball with speed up the field, passing it up to Altidore. The tempo of the entire play was exactly what the US should have been doing all along.
And then you saw the spark.
The US was realizing they needed to keep things at this speed and started playing with a bit more purpose. At one point even, Clint Dempsey was heard yelling to his teammates, “faster, faster!” in getting the ball up the field. The chances were presenting themselves now, with midfielder Graham Zusi coming up big in the second half for the US, feeding countless crosses into the box. Dempsey was likely kicking himself post-game after the number of headers he missed.
Even as the US was pushing hard on the attack, you could see the frustration growing over shots missed. But then in the 73rd minute, Jozy Altidore added to his June goal tally, scoring the game’s only goal. Fabian Johnson crossed a ball into the box, from the left side, and Altlidore just nailed it in the back of the net perfectly. It was Altidore’s fourth in four games, and ties him for the longest goal scoring streak in US history. The announcer put it best when he spoke of the once struggling forward, “This is the Jozy Altidore the US has been waiting for the last two years.” Yes, that is how a center forward should be playing.
The win puts the US at the top of the North American FIFA World Cup qualifying group with 13 points, a two-point lead over Costa Rica, who beat Panama 2-0 yesterday. Even before the whistle was blown, Salt Lake City fans were chanting, “We are going to Brazil!” Then again, no team with 13 final-round points has ever failed to advance to the World Cup from CONCACAF qualifying. But fans will have to wait till the end of summer to see the final results, as qualifying resumes on Sept.6, with the US hosting Costa Rica.