A fifth-place finish in the 2014 Central American Cup was not what Honduras had envisioned just months after playing in the FIFA World Cup.
That positioning, though, did not eliminate it from an opportunity to participate in a 12th CONCACAF Gold Cup. It was, in fact, a lifeline that led to a qualifying playoff against French Guiana. After falling 3-1 in the first leg on the road, the Catrachos stormed back for a 3-0 win at home, ensuring their return to the confederation’s premier competition.
Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto, who guided Costa Rica to a quarterfinal appearance in Brazil, was hired in December and is instilling his own system. Part of that process is identifying the players who can fulfill the requirements for success.
The Gold Cup will give the Colombian a competitive stage from which he can observe and assess with the future in mind. To that end, he crafted a Gold Cup roster consisting of 11 players born in 1990 or later. From that group, Anderlecht midfielder Andy Najar (22) and Olimpia forward Antony Lozano (22) appear ready to lead the charge. Najar netted a pair of goals in the Gold Cup qualifying playoff, second-leg victory, while Lozano added the other.
Honduras has reached three straight Gold Cup semifinals. If it wishes to maintain that streak, youth will need to step up, while veterans — such as defender Maynor Figueroa (32) and goalkeeper Noel Valladares (38) – will have to help them get there.
Trinidad & Tobago
PPL Park, a state-of-the-art 18,500-seat Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, serves as home to Philadelphia Union. Since opening its doors on June 27, 2010, it has hosted numerous events for multiple sports. In October 2014, the CONCACAF Women’s Championship finals were held there as the United States, Costa Rica and Mexico earned berths to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Two years earlier, the MLS All-Stars squared off against English-power Chelsea before a crowd of 19,236. PPL Park has been recognized on multiple occasions, winning awards from Mid Atlantic Construction Magazine for “Best Sports/Recreation Project of the Year,” the Delaware County Planning Commission for outstanding land projects in the County and the NCS4 Facility Achievement Award that honors venues that excel in safety and security operations.
City: Chester, Pennsylvania
Past Gold Cups:first-time venue
Field Size: 120 x 75