It was only the first game of 10, but the U.S. Men's National Team's 2-1 loss at Honduras in the Hexagonal opener Wednesday has made game two a 'crucial game,' according to midfielder Michael Bradley (watch below). And game two is the USA's first home match of the final round of World Cup Qualifying - on March 22 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park against Costa Rica.
Played in the midday heat in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the U.S. team took a lead in the 34' that would only last four minutes. U.S. forward Clint Dempsey's soft right-footed volley off a well timed chip from Jermaine Jones was cancelled out by a fantastic bicycle kick from Juan Carlos Garcia in the 40th minute. Jerry Bengston then gave the home side the lead with 11 to go when he took advantage of a defensive mistake to put Honduras in the driver's seat of the six-team field early on.
“It's not what we wanted," USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said afterwards. "We wanted to start with a positive result. We have to fix that right away now against Costa Rica in March. But we knew it would be really difficult. Both teams play on the same field and there are no excuses. When you lose a game there are reasons for it and the reasons today were too many players performed under their level.”
Later in the day, Costa Rica and Panama played to a 2-2 draw while Jamaica pulled the upset of the night by tying Mexico 0-0 at Estadio Azteca. Honduras leads the round-robin tournament with three points followed by Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Mexico with one point, and the U.S. at zero.
"When points are on the line, you never want to start with zero," Bradley told USsoccer.com. "But you can't panic. There's nine more games to go. We get a home game next...and at this point, the three points in the next game are crucial."
On match day two on March 22, Mexico will play at Honduras, Jamaica will host Panama, and the U.S. will host Costa Rica. Four days later, the U.S. travels to Mexico City, Jamaica will play at Costa Rica, and Panama will host Honduras.