Bruce Arena’s first significant game in charge was a success, with the USMNT handing Honduras a 6-0 drubbing. Sebastian Lletget, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Christian Pulisic all netted goals for the US. Tim Howard kept a clean sheet in his first game back with the national team since his injury against Mexico.
USMNT vs. Honduras: Three Key Statistics
However, the victory did not come without a cost. John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget exited the match injured, and will be unavailable for the game against Panama. With that in mind, here are three key statistics from the game. (All statistics from MLS Soccer unless noted)
The USMNT scored six goals, and accomplished that tally with only nine shots. In contrast, Honduras scored no goals on 11 total shots and four on target. The USMNT had more goals than Honduras had shots on target. Honduras also had several good chances, but they lacked the ruthlessness the USMNT, especially Clint Dempsey, brought to this game. If the US can keep this ruthlessness up, it will be very hard for them not to qualify for the World Cup.
The New No. 10: Christian Pulisic
Bruce Arena took a big risk in this game by starting Pulisic as the primary creator beneath the forwards ahead of veteran Sacha Kljestan. But, his risk paid off because Pulisic contributed one goal and three assists. This wasn’t the first time he started as a No. 10 for the USMNT. However, it was the first time he was put had the pieces around him to succeed. To his left was Darlington Nagbe, a player talented in possession. To his right was Sebastian Lletget, a strong two way winger. Finally, behind him and in-front of him were experienced veterans Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore. Overall, the difference this time was Arena put him in more of a position to succeed than Jurgen Klinsmann did.
By the time ten minutes passed, the USMNT scored once and were hunting for another. Ten minutes after halftime, they had scored three more goals, and put Honduras away for good. These quick goals deflated the confidence of Honduras while inflating the US’s confidence. The quick goals also get the crowd into the match, which always is a benefit when at home.
Under Klinsmann, the last time they scored early was against Costa Rica in the Copa America. Especially in big games, an early goal can be crucial. Also, the ability to keep the lead, which the USMNT often struggled to do with Klinsmann, wins important games. However, in this game, they were able to keep the lead safe. Hopefully Bruce Arena’s tactics will help the USMNT stay defensively strong going forward.