They put themselves in a hole again, falling behind early against a rival with the overwhelming support of the crowd -- even though the U.S. soccer team ostensibly was playing a home game before 55,647 fans at Soldier Field.
This time, though, the United States overcame its problems instead of compounding them, and the result was a 2-1 victory over Honduras that put Team USA back on solid ground halfway through the final qualifying round for the 2010 World Cup.
"If we didn't win," Landon Donovan said, "we were going to be in a bad position."
Instead, after a dismaying 3-1 loss Wednesday in Costa Rica, the U.S. now has a 3-1-1 record and remains second to the Ticos in the six-team group, from which three teams are guaranteed spots in South Africa next year.
And it was Donovan's play from start to finish that had a lot to do with the first time a U.S. team had rallied to win a World Cup qualifying match in 24 years.
Donovan tied the game on a penalty kick in the 43rd minute, then set up the winner with a perfect corner kick to the far post that Clint Dempsey leaped and headed back to where a diving Carlos Bocanegra could head it home in the 68th minute.
"It means a great deal to the team when Landon is active physically," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "He really pushed when he had chances with the ball, and he can still step back and make great passes."
The corner kick was one of several excellent services Donovan gave, and he obviously had taken Bradley's advice not only to use his passing skills but attack with the ball at his feet.
"The guys did a good job of getting me the ball in good spots," Donovan said. "Not every play came off, but I felt I put them under a lot of pressure."
Bradley had moved Donovan from forward to midfield as part of the four lineup changes he made, one by necessity after his midfielder son, Michael, was suspended with a second yellow card in the qualifying round.
The coach benched both outside defenders who had started and played poorly against Costa Rica, DaMarcus Beasley and Marvell Wynne, as well as midfielder Jose Torres. Jonathan Spector of Arlington Heights took one of the defensive spots and acquitted himself well in his first national team action this year.
"The most important thing is how we responded after giving up that first goal," Bradley said.
It came after Wilson Palacios intercepted Dempsey's ill-advised backheel pass and moved it to Carlos Costly, whose shot beat goalie Tim Howard in the 5th minute.
"I probably should have kicked the ball upfield, but I feel I made up for it with the assist," Dempsey said.
So a U.S. team that was jeered upon taking the field gave some 35,000 Honduran fans something to cheer. Once again, the U.S. effectively was a visitor -- no matter where it plays in CONCACAF matches.
"I'm sure that goes through a few players' heads, but at the same time it's a packed stadium," Bradley said. "It is what it is."
Their next qualifying match is Aug. 12 at Mexico, now fifth in the six-team group after Saturday's 2-1 loss at El Salvador.
Fan support or not, the U.S. is 16-0-1 in home qualifying matches since a loss to Honduras in 2001.
WORLD CUP QUALIFIER UNITED STATES 2, HONDURAS 1