Roger Espinoza (white jersey) believes the current generation of Honduran footballers could be the best yet. (Photo: Straffon Images)
SAN JOSE, California -- This is the golden age of Honduras football.
The Catrachos have participated in the past three Olympic men's tournaments and are gunning for a third consecutive FIFA World Cup berth.
"The country has done really well in the past 10 years,” said midfielder Roger Espinoza. “You've got to continue that. We've got another generation coming. Hopefully, we can keep it going."
Espinoza, who plays for the USA’s Sporting Kansas City believes the Hondurans' chances were "very good" of reaching Russia 2018. They are in fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal at 1W-0D-1L, with games against the United States (March 24, away) and Costa Rica (March 28, home) quickly approaching.
"I feel this is one of the strongest national teams we have, probably better than the one that went to the World Cup the last time in a more difficult environment,” he said. "We have a lot of young guys who want to step in and play right away right after the Olympics. Our expectations are really high."
Although Honduras is one of just three teams to defeat the U.S. on American soil in qualifiers during the past 32 years, according to Espinoza, a repeat of that feat would be “very difficult.”
In fact, he noted that playing the U.S. on the road in a relatively small facility – such as the 18,000-seat Avaya Stadium that will be used Friday – the more difficult it will be for the Hondurans to get a result.
"Playing in the big venues in the U.S. does not help them," expressed Espinoza. "There's a lot of Hondurans in the U.S. and they will pack the stadium. In 2010 qualifying at Soldier Field [in Chicago], there were a lot more Hondurans than U.S. fans. It became very difficult. It felt like a home game for Honduras. San Jose, a small venue, it can only help the home team."
Given the USA's almost invincible home record, a draw in qualifying could potentially be considered a win for any visitor.
"It would be great for us," Espinoza finished. "You got to play to win. Not many teams in this world go for a tie and win or tie. A lot of times you wind up losing. You will be defending the whole time. That's a sign of being scared. You play to win.”