The USA Men's "Road to the Subs Bench 2010 Tour" played Honduras last night with Bob "I'm Going to the World Cup So Suck It" Bradley firmly in command.
Los Catrachos are, of course, a credible side and promised to give the US a better idea of how our guys stack up than did Grenada. Not to denigrate the latter, as I'm sure they're a wonderful "country", although besides running a med school for people who get turned down by every program in America I'm not at all sure what else goes on down there.
Look at it this way: Grenada has a population of approximately 110,000 people, meaning that last Sunday the US Men's National Team beat up on the functional equivalent of Beaumont, Texas.
So Honduras presented a much more realistic, real world challenge to a collection of mostly younger players who would love to watch the 2010 World Cup from a seat next to Bradley. Realistically, most of them will end up disappointed but it's a nice looking group for Brazil 2014.
That said, the odds were against Honduras from the start, particularly with the match in RFK. I figured the only wild card was if they came in totally pissed off at the US for taking so long to wake up to the fact that they didn't have a military takeover of the government but rather a constitutionally prescribed and entirely legal replacement of a guy who was trying to join the Chavez, Ortega and Castro President for Life club.
Apparently though they don't hold it against us. At least they didn't look mad.
The action itself was forgettable enough, really. The US looked oddly out of sync in the first half and Honduras came close to scoring a couple of what would have amounted to counterattack goals but in the second half Bradley reached into his bench and came up with some spark and the US won rather easily.
Of course the Davies/Feilhaber for Pause/Adu sub is much discussed this morning as being either an example of Bradley finally waking up and getting his head out of his ass or Bradley making a shrewd and brilliantly timed tactical substitution.
And it may well be one of the two, but personally I suspect that he chose not to start those guys on purpose. He knew he had the hammer if he needed it - which as it turned out, he did - but he wanted to see if the other guys could get the job done.
Adu in particular, has looked good in a couple of cameos, had a nice goal against Grenada and - you can look it up - had any number of people clamoring for an expanded role for our little Fredua. I'm betting we won't hear much from those guys this morning. He was simply a non-factor.
Maybe it's a lack of quality time at his club, I really don't know. It's certainly hard for a young guy to grow his game while sitting on his ass but, on the other hand, that's not Bradley's problem. Bruce Arena established a hard and fast rule that it was the player's responsibility to get into a situation where you get regular time. If you don't, tough.
Call it the Jovan Kirovski rule.
What's becoming more and more clear is that guys keep doing Bradley's job for him. Beasley played himself off the team in South Africa If we never see him again there won't be much argument. It may very well be that Freddy hurt himself last night (although in fairness I suspect that Bradley will give him another start).
Meanwhile a bunch of guys are making a hell of a strong case, starting with an astonishing performance from Chad Marshall who simply owned Carlos Costly all night long. Quaranta may not make it this time around but he's not giving up without a fight. Feilhaber is close to punching a ticket. Davies is pretty much a lock.
Robbie Rogers shows flashes of brilliance and although he didn't have nearly the impact on this match as he did against the Grenadians (Grenadiers?), on the other hand it was clear that Honduras had seen the film, Rogers scared the crap out of them and he drew a lot of defensive attention every time he had the ball. Winning seven corners says a lot all by itself.
He's somebody that Bradley would love to have around if he can deliver (as a late game offensive insertion, guys like him and Davies could really cause some problems for leg-weary defenders going on 75 minutes) but he's going to have to prove it. Expect to see him trotting out there a whole lot for a while. Ideally you'd like to see him in a meaningful game with a lot at stake, facing a world class right back, but it's going to be hard for Bradley to give him that kind of an audition.
Overall, a pleasant evening with some real positives. There's no cause for wild celebration of course but I figure it's OK to enjoy it. The guys done good.