The calendar has taken its sweet time getting back to Concacaf Nations League action, and the US national team did exactly the same thing before grabbing an 89th minute Jordan Siebatcheu winner to shove aside semifinal foe Honduras on Thursday night.
It was not a flawless performance by any means, but the home side eventually punched their ticket to the inaugural Nations League title match on a play ignited by John Anthony Brooks. The defender capped a strong night by picking out Weston McKennie with a clever ball, and he relayed it along for Siebatcheu to finish with aplomb.
United States Men's National Team Player Ratings
The netminder's first prominent episode saw him misjudge a cross, an error that required a line-clearing rescue. Steffen held down the fort from there, though, including a massive smother save rushing off his line.
There's been a lot of talk about Dest's defensive deficiencies, but he did quite well whenever isolated against Alberth Elis. However, the Barcelona man was guilty of a major line hold lapse that Steffen cleaned up with the stop mentioned above. The wide back made a few solid advances, but can do more driving attack.
It was a lukewarm showing from the Genk center back. McKenzie had his aerial game on lockdown, but he was burned once in the open field and there were the odd nervy moments with the ball.
Unfazed by some early to-dos with Elis, Brooks imposed himself on the game from the back line. Other than a couple of flubs near intermission, the Wolfsburg center back was in control with and without the ball. He made some strong plays defending in space and shipped some marvelous passes. One of those passes, a long diagonal, had the crowd ooh-ing. The last one of those doozies set up the winning goal play
The Fulham left back did have a couple of hiccups tracking runners, but was largely solid at the back. Robinson also served a cross that was good enough to make one wish he got himself in that position more often.
Other than failing to get over an excellent header chance, the Juventus midfield buzzer was fairly quiet in the first half. McKennie picked up his socks after the break, helping the team in various ways. Best of all, he expertly flicked on for Siebatcheu to bag the last-minute winner.
Nothing mucked up the Honduras defensive work as much as Reyna on the dribble. He was a constant nuisance, single-handedly (or is it double-leggedly?) putting the visitors on alert even if his end product generally missed the mark.
The Werder Bremen youngster looked eager and after it early, with some physical hold-up work and a solid header on goal. Most notably, he pulled off an awkwardly difficult line clearance as good and important as any goal he could score. The last half of Sargent's 78 minutes were seemingly on mute, but he'd already made what was arguably the play of the game.
Some of it is his fault and some of it is the team's fault, but Pulisic needs to get on the ball more often when the chips are down. And when he does get on it, decisions need to be up to his usual speed.
Not to lay it all on the boss, but the US often looked off on their approach patterns and tentative once able to move to the final third. One could say some of Berhalter's adjustments helped take the points ... but then you start to wonder why they didn't come sooner.
The most noteworthy event of his dozen minutes was an overly aggressive challenge that afforded Honduras a late free kick deep in US territory.
With the proper urgency and focused technique, the substitute striker nodded the US into the final when penalties looked inevitable.
The Red Bull Salzburg attacker pressed well, as usual, but wasn't able to get on the ball.
We don't normally rate seven minute shifts, but the Colorado midfielder was present enough to clear the US box of some late danger.
Just a quick stoppage time howdy for the defender.