USA vs Honduras – Friday 7:30 PST/10:30 EST Avaya Stadium – San Jose.
It will be a must-win scenario when the United States national team entertain Honduras on Friday night in San Jose. The US started the Hexagonal with a 2-1 defeat at home against Mexico, and then were convincingly beaten 4-0 by Costa Rica away.
In the end, the two defeats meant the end of long-serving head coach, Jürgen Klinsmann. The former German national team player and World Cup winner was replaced by Bruce Arena. With Arena in charge, the United States has said goodbye to their reform process and has appointed a back-to-basics head coach.
Bruce Arena had already coached the national team from 1998 to 2006, and was in charge when the USA reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. But times have changed, and Arena will have to show that he has what it takes to lead the USA from last place in the Hexagonal to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Arena will have to start this difficult mission without several legionnaires. Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood, DeAndre Yedlin, and Eric Lichaj will miss the game due to injuries. Timothy Chandler and Jermaine Jones, in the meantime, will miss the game due to suspensions.
There is also a question mark behind Seattle Sounders’ superstar, Clint Dempsey. The attacker missed much of last season with a heart problem. He was given the green light at the beginning of this season, but whether his match fitness is enough for the international level remains to be seen. Arena will have to rely on Dempsey, as the attacker will likely replace Bobby Wood in the starting eleven.
Honduras, on the other hand, enter Friday’s encounter in fourth place in the Hexagonal. The Los Catrachos opened this qualification stage with a 1-0 home defeat to Panama. They then went on to defeat Trinidad & Tobago 3-1 at home.
Located in Central America just north of Nicaragua and west of El Salvador, Honduras has recently been in the news due to the deteriorating political situation in some areas of the country. The country has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and several countries have issued travel alerts.
The difficult economic times have meant that many Hondurans have begun to emigrate north to Mexico and the United States, as well as south to Costa Rica. Football is seldom excluded from political events and, increasingly, Honduran players have left the country to play abroad with some of the most important players playing in Major League Soccer.
Coached by the Colombian, Jorge Luis Pinto, Honduras’ squad includes five players from MLS. The most important will be the Houston Dynamo duo Alberth Ellis and Romell Quioto, who have been playing well in the still young MLS season.
In general, Honduras will be looking to grind out a result against the United States. Always a plucky side, the Los Catrachos will be sitting deep, trying to absorb the pressure, as they know full well that the United States needs the three points more than they do.
USA vs Honduras – Player to look out for:
Christian Pulisic will be the player to look out for. The young Borussia Dortmund star has been magnificent for die Schwarzgelben in the Bundesliga and the Champions League this season with five goals, and nine assists in 31 games.
Sporting Kansas defender Roger Espinoza will be the key man for Honduras. With Honduras likely going to sit deep, and waiting for counter attacks, the central midfielder will be crucial for breaking up any attacking play by the United States.
USA vs Honduras – Match Stats
- The US is 15-4-4 all-time against Honduras, scoring 39 goals, while conceding 22.
- The countries last met in July 2014 in the opening game of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The USA won the game 2-1.
- In World Cup qualifying, the US is 5-2-1 against Honduras.
- The United States also has a 2-1-0 home winning record against Honduras. Their only defeat came in 2001.
Prediction: USA vs Honduras 2-1
Howard – Villafaña, Gonzalez, Brooks, Zusi – Bradley – Pulisic, Dempsey, Nagbe – Morris, Altidore
Manager: Bruce Arena
Escobar – M. Figueroa, Izaguirre, H. Figueroa, Beckeles – Espinoza, Claros – Quioto, Martínez, Najar – Lozano
Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto