To a large extent, Saturday night's game against Honduras was a waste. Jimmy Conrad's red card in the 17th minute distorted the rest of the game and reduced its value in assessing potential World Cup aspirants. Yet even before the red card, the US looked woeful.
The Yanks looked disjointed and complacent from the get-go. It looked as if it was a pick-up game filled with players who had never played together (probably because they hadn't). In fact, the whole team looked very rusty, with loose touches and passes more the norm than the exception (this is also probably due to most of the players hadn't played together in a number of months). That however doesn't excuse the performance and I think just shows how important it is to 1. Have a settled squad that has played together and 2. Have players that are in form. The intensity and speed that Honduras brought definitely caught the US off guard and while I bet if Conrad had not been sent off the US would have settled a bit and adapted to the game's pace, the fact is that in a World Cup we can't have guys on the field who are rusty and not used to the pace of international soccer.
Finally, in some ways this was good preparation, since the fact is that the US frequently finds itself playing a man down. The response on Saturday night was mixed. Some players demonstrated character others didn't quite look up to the task. I think overall more players hurt their chances than helped.
Players who hurt themselves:
Jimmy Conrad: He did himself a lot of damage. A cynical and deserved yellow in the first 10 followed by a stupid pull down in the 17th was interspersed with some nervous defending and bad distribution. I think he was on the outside for making the squad; this game only confirmed that.
Chad Marshall: Chad did not help himself. While his appeal is his size and strength, his lack of pace was frequently exposed after Conrad was tossed. He was completely at fault on the goal, as he failed to pick up Palacios - the only one in the box and someone who Bornstein instructed him to pick up. He had trouble coping with the pacey Hondurans.
Marvelle Wynne: I think I was wrong about Wynne. I had Wynne in my World Cup squad on the grounds that while his touch is horrendous, it is no worse than Bornstein and his speed and athleticism could be of great value trying to kill off a game. However, on Saturday Wynne showed his limitations. Offensively, his pace was neutralized by a lack of touch. Defensively, he showed poor positional sense, as he was frequently caught up field. He can use his speed to recover in MLS, but in the international game that is far less certain. He also frequently lost out when making challenges.
Robbie Rogers: I am definitely not sold on Rogers. To me he is a one-trick pony. He attempts to use his speed to push the ball wide past defenders. The problem is that if he is not faster than he defender, he's got little else. However, he did hit the post with a wonder strike.
Jeff Cunningham: This is a bit harsh on him since he got no service, but Cunningham looked lethargic and reluctant to chase defensively. I still think a blistering MLS start will put him on the squad, but Saturday didn't help him.
Players who helped themselves:
Jonathan Bornstein: He was the man of the match for the US but, I am not ready to eat crow yet. He was MoM because of his hustle and defensive effort not for anything he did with the ball. Bornstein impressed defensively and showed that he doesn't just have speed, but has an improving positional sense and an ability to make a tackle. That said, Bornstein's passing is atrocious. It seemed like every pass he made upfield ended up going right to a Honduran. He had more interceptions than Brett Favre. After this performance, I think he makes the squad as the 8th US defender, but I maintain that he cannot be our first or second choice at left back.
Robbie Findley: He didn't really have much to do offensively, but he showed a good work rate and we saw flashes of his pace. Left me wanting more.
Conor Casey: He still has that lazy striker problem, which was apparent toward the end of the game, when he demonstrated his version of chasing defenders by walking in a circle. But he definitely upped the threat level when he come on and gave Honduras problems with his strength.
Alejandro Bedoya: Brought energy off the bench, again didn't do much, but he didn't look out of his element and in his first cap he left me wanting more.
Clarence Goodson: He scored the lone US goal. He also looked a bit sharper and quicker than Marshall. He may have edged out Marshall a bit.