In thrilling fashion, the USMNT defeated Honduras 3-2 to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Despite poor refereeing, they were the first CONCACAF team this qualifying campaign to do so away against the Hondurans. The Americans had their flaws, but overall, put forth an good, encouraging performance heading into next summer's tournament. Here are the player ratings...
Conor Casey: 10… The unlikeliest of heroes, Casey was the man of the match Saturday night. He put the United States on the scoreboard with a gritty, workmanlike goal, and capped off his evening with the classiest of finishes. His relentless work rate and runs up front kept the Honduran defense on their heels all night.
Landon Donovan: 9.5… Pure class. Notice how every time in attack, each member of the USMNT immediately seeks out Donovan; he is the artist of the offense. He recorded one assist and the winning goal on the night.
Stuart Holden: 6… Delivered pinpoint service to Charlie Davies’ head in the first half, but settled to cross too often, and his hand ball late in the second half gave Honduras a potential game-tying spot kick.
Charlie Davies: 6… Should have scored in the first half when his header was denied and the subsequent rebound then sent high. His flick off Onyewu’s long ball, though, became the assist to Conor Casey’s first goal.
Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark: 6… Bradley and Clark mirrored each other’s performances in the center midfield, so why not group them together? Bradley’s usual runs forward were absent and he was restricted to a Clark-like defensive role. Both were unimpressive, but sufficient.
Jonathan Borenstein: 5… Losing his mark was Borenstein’s theme for the night and he was lucky the Honduran attack failed to punish him for it. While he was consistently involved in play out of the back, he lacked any punch coming forward.
Oguchi Onyewu: 5.5… The Hondurans exposed Onyewu’s two biggest weaknesses as a defender, capitalizing on his tendencies to foul and lose his mark. His rash challenge in the second half gave the home side a free kick just outside the box, which they scored.
Carlos Bocanegra: 8… The back four was shaky Saturday night, but Bocanegra’s efforts alone held them together. He was aggressive, yet precise with his tackles and he made up for his partner’s man-marking mistakes.
Jonathan Spector: 4.5… Provided nothing coming forward, was inconsistent in his markings, and was absent from play most of the night.
Tim Howard: 9… This guy is relentless. Howard is consistently near-flawless in goal.
Jozy Altidore: 7… Immediately upon his arrival, stretched the field and brought a physical nature of play to the game.
Benny Feilhaber: N/A, but should have scored late in the game after cheekily turning a Honduran defender into an on-goal opportunity.
Steve Cherundolo: N/A
Roberto Moreno: 0... The Panamanian has become a regular for USA World Cup qualifiers and his desire to slight the United States is well beyond agitating. Moreno twice ignored clear red card-worthy fouls by the Hondurans against the USA on breaks on goal. His crew also missed an offsides call, and subsequent play lead to the second Honduras goal. The USA has gotten used to playing with a three man disadvantage.