Ryan O'Hanlon will file dispatches from Honduras, where he is covering the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team's opening World Cup qualifying match, all week.
The players took a similar tone after the game. You’re bummed when you lose, but Tim Howard, today’s captain, talked about how there are nine more games to play and there were always going to be bumps in the process. And this bump surely gets amplified with this being the first game.
The U.S. came here, and they left soon after the game with just as many points as before. It’s not all that much different after this loss; there’s just some more pressure. For Honduras, it’s a similar situation: a great start, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. They expect to win all of their games in a place like this anyway.
In short, it was just like every first-game-of-a-tournament there ever was.
When the game ended, a row of fans turned around and shook hands with some of the journalists behind them. One woman chanted U-S-A in my face while I walked through the stadium down to the press conference, and another guy smiled at me and said, “Sorry, sorry.” For The Murder Capital of the World, I should’ve been shanked in broad daylight, my laptop and phone stolen, body dumped onto the walkway outside the stadium among the Little Caesar’s boxes that one guy was collecting and stacking up to recycle later on. (I’ve been choked by an English fan after trying to shake his hand when his team tied the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup. And we left a Mexico-Guatemala game early because a Mexican spilled a beer on my brother and then threatened to kill him.) That didn’t happen, though, as the existence of this thing you’re reading would suggest. And hell, a guy apologized to me.
After talking with some of the players at a less-full, more-depressing mixed zone, we got on the coach bus for the last time and rode back to the hotel behind the escort. No one was dead, which was good. And no one outside the bus really paid any attention this time. Some people yelled, while most did nothing and just sat on their cars or stood on the grass in the middle of the street, presumably headed somewhere, eventually, but not right then. Things will get better and they’ll get worse, but Honduras had just won a soccer game.