ARLINGTON, Texas -- His team may have been eliminated in the semifinals, but Honduras head coach Luis Fernando Suarez left the CONCACAF Gold Cup feeling upbeat.
He was able to give a number of young players international experience, while also continuing to build depth in a squad that is now looking forward to the resumption of World Cup Qualifying in September.
"We've played lots of games," he said after the Central American side dropped a 3-1 decision to the United States at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday night. . We got a lot of games for a lot of player who hadn't had a chance with the national team, a lot of players who got a first call-up this time around. That's very important for the future for us. We knew coming in that many players had played well. They continued to do so in the tournament.
"The balance is not so negative for Honduras. We played five games, we won three, and lost two."
Beyond what the Catrachos demonstrated on the field, Suarez was most impressed with the players' attitude, especially after a loss.
"The attitude of the players has always been very positive," he said. "They responded to defeat and they came back to a always with a very positive attitude, wanting to comeback to represent the national colors of the team. And that's a lesson I would like for all of the players to take away. Whenever the players wear the colors of Honduras, they're going to represent their country and they are going to do the best they can to do that."
While wearing those colors on Wednesday, the Hondurans had difficulty keeping pace with the United States, a dilemma that several teams tried to cope with since the start of the tournament.
"We had various problems to overcome the United States," Suarez said. "Their technique was very good today. They were very aggressive. We could not overcome all those factors. Physically, they were much better and superior to us. Unfortunately, they beat us in just about every aspect of the game.
"What we did well, we were able to even up things a little bit in the second half to a certain point. But even then, the U.S. was really superior."
Suarez said his defense was not up to par in that encounter.
"The defensive strength of the team was missing," he noted. "They made errors. We have to give credit to the United States. They did things offensively, but at the same time, we made things easier for them, the way we played defensively. What we have done in the past in terms of defensive strength, we weren't able to replicate today. With a team that is speedy and with creative attack as the United States, that is obviously going to be a problem."
It certainly did not help that Suarez could not start forward Rony Martinez and midfielder Marvin Chavez, whom he said "weren't ready to go."
"They could be good options as substitutes but they weren't ready to go physically from the start," he added.
Both players came on as second-half substitutes.
"Many of the Honduran players came into the tournament without a pre-season,” Suarez commented. “They've been through the World Cup Qualifying tournament and were taxed physically. For that reason, we knew the physical preparation of the players would be something that they had to deal with."
Honduras is back in action on August 14 with a friendly against Bolivia, before facing Mexico in a crucial Sept. 6 qualifier in Mexico City.