SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras -- Three thoughts after the U.S.' 3-2 victory against Honduras in Saturday's World Cup qualifier:
• The U.S. is World Cup-bound for the sixth straight time. In one of the most remarkable halves in U.S. Soccer history, the Americans overcame a 1-0 deficit and scored three times to silence 45,000 Hondurans who were hoping to celebrate the country's biggest win in nearly three decades. Granted, Honduras isn't Brazil, but the U.S. could have folded after giving up a brutal goal in the 46th minute much like the one it allowed to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final (a 3-2 loss). Instead, the Yanks found the resolve to keep pushing and run off three unanswered strikes by Conor Casey (two) and Landon Donovan (one). If you were ever going to question the U.S.' heart, this World Cup-bound team answered those questions tonight.
• The Hondurans are the chokers of CONCACAF. Amazingly, the Catrachos could have tied the game at 3-3 in the 87th minute, but Carlos Pavón sent his penalty kick over the bar after a Carlos Bocanegra hand-ball penalty in the box. If Honduras fails to reach the World Cup and it's now in fourth place headed for a playoff against perhaps Uruguay, this failure on its home field will be remembered here for decades. You might recall that Honduras was on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup on Matchday 9 at home in 2001, but it somehow lost to lowly Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 to miss a World Cup berth by three points. You have to feel for the Honduran fans, who could have used a night of exultation after their country has been going through a political crisis.
• Man of the Match: Casey. There were a lot of raised eyebrows here in the press box when the U.S. lineup came out and Casey was listed at forward instead of Jozy Altidore. But Casey made Bob Bradley's gamble pay off, scoring the first two goals of his national-team career in the most important of circumstances. After a rough start dealing with aimless long balls from the U.S. back line, Casey recovered to play an important role holding the ball in the latter part of the first half. Then he lit it up in the second half, beating Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares to a high-ball for the 1-1 equalizer and finishing Donovan's brilliant through-ball for the 2-1 lead. Casey put an exclamation point on his breakout evening by earning the free kick that Donovan sent into the upper-right corner for the decisive goal.
What are your thoughts on the game? Please post below. This is all from me tonight since I have to write a magazine story on deadline for tomorrow.