The US did themselves a huge favor by taking all three points in Honduras and avoiding any last day scenario that could have seen them in a all-or-nothing playoff against what is certain to be a good South American team. Honduras and Costa Rica's hides are now on the line instead, meaning Coach Bob Bradley has some decisions to make regarding his lineup for Wednesday night's final hexagonal match-up in Washington DC, which is still meaningful - just not for the Americans.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a lineup for this final match, and my guess is Bradley will err on the side of caution when deciding who to run out.
What a surprise I got when I was sorting through the referee assignments for this afternoon and saw that the central judge for tonight's crucial US-Honduras would be none other than Roberto Moreno. It seems like a bad joke, but apparently there are only four or five international referees in the region right now, and the one permanently assigned to important US games is Moreno.
For those of you who don't know why this assignment is a bad one for the US, just think back to August in El Azteca. The Panamanian was so intimidated by the Azteca crowd and atmosphere that he might as well have Mexico's twelfth man. Think things will be any different when this homer refs in front of a packed house in San Pedro Sula tonight? There's no reason to.
After experiencing further problems during the rehabilitation of his left leg, Schalke midfielder Jermaine Jones will be forced to miss another six weeks following surgery.
Having originally suffered a hairline fracture in his left tibia in as the team began training camp in June, the dual-citizen defensive midfielder had twice briefly resumed full training with the Gelsenkirchen-based team before being ultimately forced out for another three weeks of rehabilitation in mid-September when he felt discomfort arising from the metal plate inserted to stabilize the fracture.
Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey will miss out on Saturday's World Cup Qualifier against Honduras due to a shoulder sprain.
The US sits in first place in qualification in the tight hexagonal finals, and face third place Honduras, who are three points behind, on Saturday night in San Pedro Sula. Dempsey is the Americans' second leading goalscorer in qualification with five goals to his name.
A big, but winnable match for the Americans today against a Korea team in much the same shape as the Americans. The US is suddenly on a high after Tuesday's big win over Cameroon, and this South Korea match looked all along like the easiest of the three group games, though the Americans are not overlooking a team that has caused them plenty of trouble in the past, and had enough to tie the German team that wreaked havoc on the Americans on the first match day.
Through the first two games for the American team in this current FIFA U-20 World Cup, one player which has already stood out amongst the rest is defensive midfielder Bryan Arguez. Recognized as one of the factors which kept the baby-Nats' opening game loss against Germany in-check after his introduction in the second half, and also serving as the most visible anchor of a dominant midfield performance in the 4-1 followup trouncing of Cameroon (and nabbing the opening goal for good measure), the irony of the matter is that the Miami native is lucky to even be in Egypt.
What a difference a day makes. All Thomas Rongen had to do was turn back to the pros and things changed ever so drastically overnight. While many are prone to now praise Rongen for the changes he made to right the US ship, the more pressing question is why was it not until the second game - after months of training and two friendlies in Cyprus before the tournament - that he put a passable lineup on the field?
The Americans seem to think they match up better with the Cameroons than they did with Germany. The African side is fast and athletic as they have been described, but they are no push overs in back either and they are not nearly as disorganized as the Americans looked in their first match, so that is really no encouragement.
Hertha Berlin's Bryan Arguez was one of the few who didn't look out their league
The US put in a half-baked performance in Suez yesterday and a professional German team thoroughly punished them for their effort. The result was predictable and unsurprising - nor is it surprising that fans have jumped all over Rongen and the team.
True, this may not be the greatest US Under-20 team ever, but some of the commentaries I have seen are ridiculous. The failure of this team in one game does not mean that the development of US Soccer, or the game in the US, has failed. This team is not going to be the full national team tomorrow.
The 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup is underway, without too much fanfare even in the host country. The opening game last night saw Egypt knock off Trinidad and Tobago, 4-1, in the opening match at a packed El-Borg Military Stadium in Cairo. It will now be interesting to see how much support is given to the other games.