MIAMI – It wasn’t quite a breakout performance for the US national team under Jurgen Klinsmann, but Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Honduras was at least a step forward after going winless in the new coach’s first three games.
The US dominated large stretches of the match and would have increased the scoring margin if not for two wasted chances by Brek Shea and Oguchi Onyewu. While a bigger result was warranted, the Americans are happy to leave Miami with a win that was a relief for Klinsmann and a confidence builder for his players.
“I think the transition for the team might be easier when you win and get the right results,” Klinsmann said in the postgame press conference.
There were a number of positives to be taken, most notably Clint Dempsey’s preternatural poise in front of goal on his game-winner and Tim Howard’s ongoing development as a world-class keeper. Those are almost givens.
What’s new is perhaps finding a permanent left back in Timmy Chandler and his growing partnership with Shea, the FC Dallas playmaker and MLS MVP candidate.
“We saw a continuing of a partnership with Timmy Chandler and Brek Shea,” Klinsmann said. “We saw this in Belgium and they are feeling more comfortable each time we play. This partnership is something they enjoy. Brek continues to grow into a better and better player and he’s really maturing.”
Real Salt Lake defensive midfielder Kyle Beckerman, playing in the No. 6 slot alongside Maurice Edu, provided cover for Chandler’s regular forays into the Honduras final third.
“We want to continue to encourage him to keep doing that and not worry about what’s behind him,” Beckerman said. “We’ll take care of it.”
Shea missed two difficult chances in the first half on passes from Chandler. He flubbed a gimme in the second half from striker Jozy Altidore that would have provided some breathing room. He did, however, provide the skipping cross that found Dempsey for the game winner.
“I just tried to put it into the danger zone,” Shea said. “The field was wet; let’s see what happens.”
With their first win under Klinsmann now behind them, the US fly Sunday to New Jersey for Tuesday’s friendly against Ecuador at Red Bull Arena.
“We’re happy to get our first win for the manager,” Dempsey said. “You get more confidence from games that you win. We want to keep moving forward as a team.”