The Sweeper: USMNT Qualifies for the World Cup
There was something for pretty much everyone yesterday, an all-day footballing extravaganza that began with Germany overcoming her many doubters by beating Hiddink’s tactically astute Russia in the Luzhniki Stadium, and ended with the United States overcoming a lethargic start and a forty-seventh minute goal by beating Honduras 3-2 in front of a hostile crowd of forty thousand at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.
The game, which saw the US go up 3-1 only to have brace-scorer Julio Cesar De Leon make it 3-2, followed by a miraculous penalty miss by Honduran oldster Carlos Pavon in the eighty-seventh minute, was, amazingly, not the only epic spectacle of the day (more on the others below).
Yet it meant the USA qualified by beating Honduras on the road, which hadn’t been done in the Hexagonal. While political turmoil within the Central American country initially put this fixture in doubt, and despite a few notable pre-game shenanigans (Grant Wahl getting robbed at gun point, for example), the game was played out in a great spirit.
Too bad then many Americans had to scramble to find a bar that would show the game, as rights were sold to Spanish outlet Mediapro by the Honduran federation, relegating the match to CCTV. Perhaps after missing out on what might turn out to be an historic classic, the USSF will ensure games of this import in future are shown on channels people might legally watch.
- Speaking of epic matches, Maradona’s rain-soaked Argentina, while still far from the classic form we’ve come to expect from the South American powerhouse, a form we have yet to see under Diego, managed to beat Peru 2-1 at home to keep their World Cup qualification hopes alive. The game played out on a terribly soggy pitch and featuring a last minute equalizer and a last minute winner, could go down as an all-time classic, especially if it sees Argentina push on to the World Cup. Even more poetic was that the result came against that team.
- While Canadians may not have had much to cheer about in the WCQs (or MLS for that matter), we did have an all-Canadian first leg final between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Montreal Impact that made USL-1 look downright sexy despite ongoing front office turmoil. If you don’t take anything else away from this match, you should remember the name Marcus Haber, the twenty-year old who dragged Vancouver back into this fixture after equalizing in the second half.
- Would something as stupid as throwing flares on the Wembley pitch during yesterday’s WCQ 1-0 win by Ukraine over England (available exclusively online!) be enough to “embarrass” the 2012 European Championship co-hosts? The FA is banking that the answer is yes.
- Ireland and Italy draw 2-2 at Croke Park, meaning the Irish will have to endure FIFA’s seeding reversal, a decision insidious because of its timing according to Ian King.
- Sunday Mirror fail: rumours swirl around hidden Toure sibling, Carlos, who is looking to move to Manchester City.
Richard Whittall lives and writes A More Splendid Life.