Wednesday’s soccer news starts with the USMNT in action tonight against Honduras (10pm ET – Paramount+) to close out the September international window. Two points from two games so far are causing issues for the program, already dealing with unmet expectations. A result in Honduras might stifle some of those complaints, but it’s a safe assumption that they’ll carry into the October window.
As for what that means today, US coach Gregg Berhalter and his technical staff are past the point of expectation management. Instead, they need to show how their ideas will work against a motivated opponent on the road in Concacaf. It’s worth the reminder that Honduras has also taken two points from two games against the same two opponents and by the same scores.
That makes this another opportunity for at least a partial proof of concept. Show that things are working at Honduras, and it also suggests that they should’ve worked better in the earlier games. That points to progress, closing out the window on a high that should also carry over into the next international window.
All of those reminders about the degree of difficulty work both ways. Getting a road win shows that a setup is working. It shifts the conversation away from a point at home. The United States getting three points at Honduras means production. That’s getting forwards in positions to do their jobs while keeping the defense ready for a counterattack. Call that Concacaf 101 in a region where a strong forward scoring off the counter regularly decides games.
Speaking to the media, Christian Pulisic said, “We know we are good enough to get three points. That’s it. That’s our mindset. We’re going in to win the game, and we’re going to have to fight, though. We have no excuses.”
That’s the extent of the situation right now. The United States can’t play its way into another 90 minutes that requires explanation. Pushing Honduras should create chances. The skill in the US squad should be able to capitalize on that.
Elsewhere in Concacaf, Canada is also in a situation where a result may send a bigger message. Hosting El Salvador, they also need to make up for drawing at home in their first game. Canada’s response to drawing at the United States was to stress their opinion that the game was theirs. Deciding that Canada left two points on the table takes some work, unless the focus is solely on the last half hour. Now, Canada has the chance to prove their point against a team that hasn’t scored or given up a goal.
Mexico is on the road at Panama with the expectation that they finish September with the full nine points from three games. Both of their wins were close. An 89th minute goal was the difference at home against Jamaica. They won at Costa Rica from a first-half stoppage time penalty. At some point, it makes sense that Mexico’s attack will find its rhythm and punish an opponent. Panama did that in their last game, beating Jamaica 3-0 away. As is almost always the case, there were specific circumstances. Regardless, Panama had to score the goals. That’s becoming the theme across the region right now.
Costa Rica hosts Jamaica after drawing 0-0 at Panama and losing 1-0 at home to Mexico. Recovering under a new coach, Costa Rica isn’t the same threat they once were. Results change that, but it’s going to take impressing on the rest of Concacaf that this is a different team. They beat Jamaica 1-0 in the Gold Cup group stage on a second-half goal and playing a man down from the 72nd minute. Gold Cup results will only tell us so much, but Jamaica is struggling after looking competitive against Mexico.
In the soccer news, ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle on the situation with Weston McKennie. Marca’s Pablo Polo reports on the Kylian Mbappe situation at PSG. Football Italia’s Susy Campanale looks at the financial situation at Juventus.
🗣 “We do not want or need more World Cups.”
🌍 National fans’ groups from across the 6 football confederations have issued a joint statement opposing plans to hold the World Cup every two years.
— Fans Europe (FSE) (@FansEurope) September 7, 2021
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