There is life in the US Men’s National Team after all. They looked reenergized in Bruce Arena’s first match in charge during the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying match against Honduras, and brushed them aside, winning 6-0.
Stars of the night
Two men stood out tonight: Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic.
Dempsey returned to the USMNT for the first time since he was sidelined with an irregular heartbeat last August and put on a show. The Seattle Sounders’ man scored a hattrick in his first Hexagonal match this cycle which included a sensational free kick early in the second half.
Borussia Dortmund’s Pulisic is continuing to put in big performance after big performance, and tonight solidified his rise to stardom by bagging three assists and a goal to boot.
It did not take long for the first goal of the night to be scored, with the Americans breaking the deadlock in the fifth minute. Jozy Altidore sent a superb pass over the Honduran defense to Pulisic. The Dortmund kid had his close range attempt stopped, but Sebastian Lletget was right there to put the rebound into the empty net to give his country the dream start.
Unfortunately, Lletget’s night ended early. He took a knock after Ever Alvarado got him on the foot late. Lletget tried to carry on, but in the 18th minute, Alejandro Bedoya came onto the pitch for the injured winger.
The American captain, Michael Bradley, double the home side’s advantage 22 minutes later. He dribbled in space from about 30 yards away from goal. There was no defender near Bradley and promptly took a shot from long range, beating Donis Escober from distance to make it 2-0.
In the 32nd minute, Dempsey got on the score sheet to make it 3-0 before halftime to put this game to rest. Pulisic found a Dempsey streaking into the box, trying to shrug off a defender. As he was falling to the ground, the veteran striker still managed to get off a sensational strike to beat a helpless Escober.
The goals kept coming in the second half including a quick fire double right after the restart.
Seconds after the break, Pulisic scored his first goal of the night catching the Honduran defense a little flat footed. After winning the ball back in the final third, Altidore threaded a pass between two defenders, and the 18-year-old calmly slotted one at the near post.
The scorer turned provider three minutes later for the American’s fifth goal of the night. Pulisic played a deft pass into space for Dempsey who proceeded to draw Escober off his line before converting from close range.
To round off the night, Dempsey stood over a free kick, which Pulisic won, in the 54th minute. Dempsey expertly found the lower bottom corner of the far post.
Dempsey’s night could not have gone any better, and it looked like he sparked the rest of the side too. It started off slowly, not getting a whole lot of touches, but it wound up a lot better by the time the final whistle blew. He will be an integral part heading towards the rest of the qualification process, tonight, though, was a good start.
The USA will look to carry this momentum into next week when they go on the road. Central America is always a tough place to play soccer and they will look to beat a tough Panama squad.