Bobby Wood makes impact, Matt Besler impresses as U.S. ties Honduras
With its back against the wall following a home loss to Costa Rica on Friday night, the United States men's national team fell behind only to find a late goal off a free-kick scramble that helped Bruce Arena's side salvage a point in Honduras on Tuesday.
Nothing improved for the Americans following Friday night's defeat, when they largely controlled proceedings but made crucial mistakes that cost them the game. Against Honduras, the conditions dictated a very different performance. Christian Pulisic responded relatively well to the battering he took against Los Ticos in another game where he was seemingly singled out for physical play. Bobby Wood deserves credit for getting an opportunistic goal as a substitute.
The Americans were slow of both body and mind in Honduras. Maximizing their advantage with the weather and field, the Hondurans used the conditions to make the U.S. lethargic throughout the match. The U.S. could not keep possession and with Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey starting up front, the direct style of play led to few chances. Defensive issues were again a problem, with both starting full-backs abused repeatedly by Honduras' speedy wingers.
Manager rating out of 10:
4 -- Arena found himself forced into a number of lineup changes given the short turnaround and trip to a difficult environment. Starting DaMarcus Beasley looked to be a poor decision with Honduras's dynamism on the wings, and the forward combination did very little. Tactically, the Americans gave Los Catrachos way too much freedom to play into space, with little help from the midfield at the defensive end of the field. A deep defensive line and low energy led to little pressing, which played into Honduras' hands.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Brad Guzan, 5 -- Not at fault on the goal. Made a few simple saves without looking overly confident in net. Distribution was generally poor.
DF Graham Zusi, 3.5 -- Part of a rough night on the flanks for the United States. Beaten for speed on numerous occasions, poor in one-on-one moments.
DF Omar Gonzalez, 2.5 -- Made the inexcusable mistake that led to Honduras' goal. Played the ball to the opponent consistently even though the Americans needed possession.
DF Matt Besler, 7 -- Quietly the best player on the night for the U.S., all told. Smart with his positioning and popped up with clearances and tackles when needed.
DF DaMarcus Beasley, 3.5 -- Repeatedly beaten by Alberth Elis into space up the American flank. Spent most of the match scrambling and was unable to add to the attack.
MF Christian Pulisic, 5.5 -- Willing to take on defenders, something the Americans needed. Struggled with the conditions but responded better to physical play.
MF Michael Bradley, 6 -- Did his usual work on both sides of the ball. At times, he was the only midfielder willing to track back and help cover defensively. Not great but far from the worst on the night.
MF Kellyn Acosta, 4.5 -- Missing for large chunks of the game. Failed to keep up with the speed and intensity of play -- added little to the possession needs of the Americans. Hit the free kick deflected off the bar that led to the U.S. goal.
MF Darlington Nagbe, 4.5 -- Mostly anonymous on the wing and was slow to make decisions when opportunities to impact the game presented themselves.
FW Clint Dempsey, 6 -- Provided most of the creativity the Americans displayed over 90 minutes, which wasn't much. Struggled to get on the ball. Added a few moments of competent hold up play.
FW Jordan Morris, 3 -- Anonymous beyond an off-target shot in the opening minutes of the game. Made few good runs but was broadly indecisive.
DF Paul Arriola, NR -- Added energy on both sides of the ball when the Americans' legs were heavy.
DF Geoff Cameron, NR -- Mostly competent after the Americans switched to the back three. No major errors.
FW Bobby Wood, NR -- Scored the goal that saved a point for the United States on a night that looked headed for disaster.
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.