Clint Dempsey is Mr. Clutch and USMNT's greatest-ever player
- Author: Julie Sanders Mar 31, 2017,
Mar 31, 2017, 7:07
How you're going to perform.
In dire need of a win, the United States scored goal after goal in a World Cup qualifying rout of Honduras in California.
The U.S. have gone 11-1-1 in their last 13 games against Honduras on home soil, dating back to March 2, 2002.
The game was a must-win for an American team that was buried in last place in the six-nation World Cup qualifying group after being humbled by Mexico and humiliated by Costa Rica by a combined score of 6-1. Not everything flowed, and it didn't feel right in the moment. "There are a lot of things we can improve on and we're going to try and bring that tomorrow".
The frenzy part comes after the American team lost its first two matches (vs. Mexico and at Costa Rica) in the Hexagonal, the final round of regional qualifying that will send the top three finishers to Russian Federation next year and a fourth to a playoff for another spot in the 32-team field.
"It was all about the team", Dempsey said afterward. With zero points after two matches and things looking grim, tonight's clash in San Jose is probably the most important Qualifying match since the Snowclasico four years ago this week.
From Hershey, Pennsylvania to the biggest of stages, Christian Pulisic's rise to stardom has come quicker than most imagined. Alejandro Bedoya and Jozy Altidore also assisted.
Panama, with four points in three games, now holds the last automatic bid for the 2018 World Cup. I'm not surprised that they played well together.
From last November, when Pulisic started for the U.S. against Mexico and Costa Rica, to today when he is poised to earn another cap in his burgeoning national team career, Arena has been impressed with the youngster, but he warned that Pulisic still has a ways to go before he reaches his potential on the World Cup qualifying stage.
New manager Bruce Arena has selected 24 players to make up his player pool for the two games. "In last couple of months with his club team in Germany, he's been good". He was given the green light at the beginning of this season, but whether his match fitness is enough for the global level remains to be seen.
Though he wouldn't admit that it's his preferred position, Pulisic's response about playing through the middle may have provided a hint of where he will be used on Friday. "Yeah, it's a big game". "I think his situation with heart probably leads to a lot of reflection about life in general and not just football".
"Absolutely, yes", said Pulisic. We told them at half-time that Honduras was going to come out and be all over us, and we wanted to play the opening kickoff at their end of the field. But times have changed, and Arena will have to show that he has what it takes to lead the U.S. from last place in the Hexagonal to the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation. Then a 20-year-old talent with loads of confidence, he was an important member of the US team that reached the quarterfinals of the tournament.
"He does remind me of Landon".
So how did Arena land on Dempsey to get the start despite preferring him off the bench just a week earlier? "I said 'I'll give you all the minutes I can'". When you write about players, you can't help but jot "the 34-year-old Dempsey" and "the 18-year-old Pulisic".
High praise from Arena, especially for an 18-year-old, but the longtime club and national team coach of Donovan certainly knows of what he speaks.
There is also a question mark behind Seattle Sounders' superstar, Clint Dempsey.
"He was an idol of mine so obviously it's an honor", responded Pulisic, "but I'm my own player as well".