• Tuesday Jun 18, 2013

    U.S. wary of shorthanded Honduras

    By Michael Lewis

    SANDY, Utah -- Honduras might be entering its Tuesday World Cup qualifier with one foot tied behind its back with several key players on the sidelines.

    The Catrachos will be missing midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia and defender Maynor Figueroa, who are injured.  Defender Victor Bernardez and defensive midfielder Luis Garrido are suspended, while striker Jerry Bengtson left the team after a spat with head coach Luis Fernando Suarez.

    That's five quality players.

    The United States, though, won’t let those absences lull it into a false sense of security.  Honduras is still poses a very significant threat.

    "It won't impact how we approach it at all," U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley told reporters before practice on Monday.  "It's still Honduras and it's still 90 minutes to go out and try to win the game.  As far as who plays for them, who doesn't, who's injured, who ends up being able to play, it doesn't change anything for us."

    A victory would keep the Americans (3-1-1, 10 points) atop the group and perhaps within a win of clinching a berth in Brazil next year.  The Hondurans (2-1-2, 7 pts.), who dealt the U.S. its only loss in this round (a 2-1 home win on Feb. 6), are in fourth place and a win could potentially propel them into first place.

    "This game against Honduras is a big, big game," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.  “For me it’s almost a six-pointer.  You want to win this game badly.”

    The Central Americans are the last team to defeat the United States on American soil in a World Cup qualifier, recording a 3-2 triumph at RFK Stadium on Sept. 1, 2001.  Since then, the U.S. has forged a 24-game unbeaten streak at home (22-2-0).

    "It's a very dynamic team that plays well," said Honduras midfielder Roger Espinoza, who grew up in the U.S. and played for Sporting Kansas City before moving to Wigan Athletic (England).

    "America is doing things right, but we have a great selection," said Honduran left midfielder Mario Martinez, who plays with the Seattle Sounders (Major League Soccer).  "We have to make a great game and get the win. We have to ... play very smart.

    "We're aware of what's at stake." 

    Despite topping the hexagonal, Klinsmann said it has been a difficult group for his squad to navigate.

    “This hexagonal group proves how difficult it is and how balanced North and Central America is now in soccer terms," said the former German international.  "The Central American countries caught up.  They challenge Mexico, they challenge us.  There is no easy game at all anymore.  You first have to somehow break them down, score your first goal and go from there.  If you don’t break them down, which happened down in Mexico a few times, you struggle.  Because teams are physically very strong, they keep the pace high with you, they keep the rhythm and they are tactically very well organized.

    "They all go behind the ball once they lose it.  There’s always a wall of nine or 10 guys behind the ball.  As we saw, Panama did everything to not open any gaps for us."

     

  • Champions League

    Related News



RELATED NEWS YOU'LL LIKE

CONCACAF at the FIFA World Cup: Qualified Teams

With Honduras falling short in its bid to become CONCACAF’s fourth qualifier at the 2018 World Cup, the Confederation will officially send three teams to Russia: Costa Rica, Mexico and the Panama.

After European tour, Costa Rica looks to build for World Cup

Despite a 1-0 loss to host Hungary in an international friendly Tuesday in an international friendly in Budapest, Costa Rica head coach Oscar Ramirez – especially on the heels of 5-0 loss at Spain four days earlier.

Gomez praises Panama after Wales draw

Panama has plenty to feel confident about following its 1-1 draw at Wales in an international friendly on Tuesday at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Pinto laments Honduras setback to Australia

Honduras’ bid for a third consecutive FIFA World Cup appearance ended after Mile Jedinak (54’, 72’ pen, 86’ pen) struck for three goals to give host Australia a 3-1 win in the second leg of their intercontinental playoff on Wednesday at ANZ Stadium, capturing the series by the same score.

McKennie scores on debut; U.S. draws with Portugal

In its first game since being eliminated from FIFA World Cup Qualifying last month, the visiting United States played European champion Portugal to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly at Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa on Tuesday.