After the historic highs of Dos a Cero, the US traveled to Honduras for their first away qualifier of the Hex. Earnie Stewart captained a US side plagued by injuries, and joined Clint Mathis, Chris Armas, and Tony Sanneh in midfield.
In a sequence that encapsulates his career, Armas recovers his misplaced long ball, makes a tackle 25 yards away from goal, and distributes a 5 yard pass to Stewart. Stewart finds David Regis on the left flank, and the US proceeds with a triangle clinic. Regis to Mathis, Mathis to Armas, Armas back to Mathis, Mathis square to Stewart. In hindsight, it all looks so simple. With six passes and effective movement off the ball, Stewart has the ball 35 yards away from goal, with acres of space and Josh Wolff, Ante Razov, and Sanneh as options ahead.
And then the thunderbolt.
Stewart sees the keeper favoring the near post and uncorks a 30+ yard shot. The generous deflection from a late-arriving defender takes nothing away from the positive intent – the ball arrives violently in the upper corner side netting, seemingly as Stewart intended. The ease of the build-up belied the outrageous finish, and the goal remains one of the classic US long-range efforts.