United States unconvincing, but advance to Nations League final

The United States didn’t exactly live up to the hype surrounding their first competitive match in 572 days, but managed to find a late winner to beat Honduras and advance to the final of the Concacaf Nations League.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter didn’t turn too many heads with the starting lineup. Holding midfielder Tyler Adams was apparently unfit to start, giving San Jose Earthquakes midfielder a start at the base of midfield. He also opted to bring in Antonee Robinson, a naturally left-footed defender, at left-back, allowing Sergiño Dest to return to his preferred position on the right.

This match can be looked at in one of two ways.

On one hand, a U.S. side featuring players playing at the highest levels of European competition struggled to beat a Honduras side consisting of 13 domestic-based players. The midfield struggled to break down a packed defense, their forwards were disconnected, and they were wasteful in front of goal. Berhalter’s substitutions were reactive and altogether too late, and the result papered over the cracks of a mediocre performance.

On the other hand, a U.S. group that hasn’t really played together in the last year and a half played a competitive match against an organized and smart side of experienced Concacaf players.

They created plenty of scoring chances, and had they finished one of their early opportunities, the match would have opened up and allowed them to really take control of the match. They’re a team with plenty of questions at striker, and Josh Sargent didn’t answer any of them against Honduras, but with the type of finishing you should expect at the international level, the match would have felt very different.

I tend to think the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, there were issues, especially in midfield. But there were also really good moments in possession, and the U.S. created enough to score more than a single goal.

Three things should be taken away from this match. One, this is a young team with almost no meaningful games together. Two, Concacaf is really hard.

And three, the United States will need to be significantly better against Mexico or Costa Rica to take home a trophy on Sunday.

Lineups

Honduras: López; Álvarez, Pereira (García 74′), Figueroa, Rodríguez (Alvarado 65′); Rivas (Benavídez 74′), Flores, López (Acosta 64′), Rubio (Rodríguez 63′); Elis, Lozano

United States: Steffen; Dest, McKenzie, Brooks, Robinson (Cannon 78′); McKennie, Yueill (Acosta 83′), Lletget; Reyna (Aaronson 78′), Sarget (Siebatcheu 78′), Pulisic (Miazga 90+4′)

Stats

Possession: HON 40% – 60% USA
Completed passes: HON 235 – 407 USA
Shots: HON 7 – 10 USA
Shots on goal: HON 4 – 4 USA
Goals: HON 0 – 1 USA
Fouls: HON 14 – 11 USA
Yellow cards: HON 3 – 2 USA
Red cards: HON 0 – 0 USA

Highlights

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