Lock it in: South Africa, June 2010

It's a good thing I didn't write that final preview for the US v Honduras game as it definitely would not have come close to foreshadowing that type of result. Overall it seemed more like Honduras were intimidated at home and the US was able to capitalize when opportunities presented themselves.

I though the inclusion of Stuart Holden worked out pretty well, as he showed flashes down the right hand side and defended pretty. His handball late could have been disastrous but he got lucky. Hopefully he this valuable experience helps him to keep improving. His service from the right is more often than not, exceptional.

Speaking of which, a great ball into Charlie Davies midway through the first half really should have been finished. Improving as a striker means those are the chances that must be taken calmly. Davies didn't seem to be a threat at any other time although his pace clearly makes opposing defenders nervous.

His striker partner, the surprising inclusion, Conor Casey is the headline stealer as the US secured their 6th World Cup birth in a row. Never a threat with the ball at his feet but who can argue with two goals. The first one is the type I hate as it reinforces that kick and pray type of soccer which is so often associated with Americans. It is rarely effective and Casey got lucky that the Honduran GK was indecisive enough to allow him to get there first. The second goal was the product of a great ball from Donovan but did require a clinical finish; never underestimate the importance of clinical finishing from a striker and this is was Casey brings to the game. He will not create chances on his own but give him a chance and he is excellent at finishing.

Speaking of Landon Donovan, the Man of the Match IMO, for the US. He is the energy and vision going forward and he seems to be embracing the role of offensive leader for this team. As Donovan goes, so goes the US. His free kick, which turned out to be the game winner, was a blast but benefited slightly from more suspect Honduran GK'ing. His celebrations could also use some work, maybe talk to Davies and Altidore about that buddy. Will he get a shot to make a move to Europe in Jan? Does he want to? It might serve him well going into next summer but his form is so good right now that I am not sure you want to make such a drastic move.

Michael Bradley wasn't present for much of the game but did make some very good runs going forward. He also has a wicked right foot and isn't afraid to take his chances from outside the box, something you have to like to see.

Jonathan Spector and Jonathan Borenstein both provided some quality going forward, an important part of helping cohesive forward progress, but were definitely suspect in the back. I like the potential that Spector brings but his final ball never seems to be on the mark or direct enough. Borenstein sometimes seems to get lost out there and while I like his desire, he still has a way to go before being a threat.

In the center, Carlos Bocanegra was a beast. He was in position and came up with multiple key blocks. Maybe his role for the US is in the center but only if BB can find a valid solution on the left I think. Edgar Castillo, donde esta?

Oguchi Onyewu didn't seem to be at his best. From an early turnover followed immediately by a bad foul, his lack of playing time in Milan seems to be hurting. He did get in during Milan's latest CL debacle so hopefully that is a sign of things to come. His form going into next summer is as important as anyone in the back.

Overall it was an excellent way to guarantee a place next summer and avoided the must-win scenario that wouldn't be fun for anyone on Wednesday. The next step is putting together a win on Wednesday in DC, guaranteeing first place in the CONCACAF hexagonal stage, and making their case for being in one of the top 2 pools for the WC draw.

For those of you who didn't get to see any of the game....

US vs Honduras Highlights - 10/10/09

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