We are 12 days away from the crucial match where the USMNT will be facing Honduras in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers for Russia 2018 — in a match scheduled to take place in San Jose, CA.
Jorge Luis Pinto announced yesterday the roster composed of 26 players to face the U.S. and Costa Rica. Among these are a few familiar names like Najar (Anderlecht), the ex-D.C. United player, Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City), Maynor Figueroa (Dallas) and the recent winner of MLS Goal of the Week, Romell Quioto (Houston Dynamo). It’s a talented and rejuvenated squad, including many players of the U-23 squad that went to the Rio Olympics and reached the semifinals.
The U.S., on the other hand, will see Bruce Arena's first qualifying match after Jurgen Klinsmann's separation from the team, which followed the horrendous defeat against Costa Rica. Bruce, who was named as head coach back in November, has a great feat ahead of him. After four months as head coach, he has only had two friendlies. These games were played mostly with locally based players who were still in preseason rhythm.
The players abroad have had kind of a bittersweet season as the defensive players look strong but their counterparts have seemed the opposite. Fabian Johnson has played in 31 games and has four goals and four assists; Timmy Chandler has 2,235 minutes of playing time this season, and John Brooks has 22 games played and one assist. On the other side of the pitch, we have seen the explosion of a young prodigy like Christian Pulisic, who has four goals, nine assists and a total of 1,601 minutes played this season for Borussia Dortmund. On the other hand, Bobby Wood has played 18 league games and has four goals this season. The attack will fall primarily on MLS player Jozy Altidore's shoulders. Pulisic will be a great addition to the attack but can a teenager handle the pressure of a CONCACAF World Cup qualifying game?
Besides the stats, there is another factor. The Honduran National Team is looking with bright eyes. The game will be played in a warm San Jose, which is a comfort zone for the Central American players. Although the USSF only allocated 225 tickets for the foreign Honduran fans, Avaya Stadium only fits 18,000 fans, which is not intimidating for the "Catrachos."
At the bottom of the table, the United States is against a team full of confidence which just won the Central American UNCAF trophy. But Bruce, being the most successful manager in the national team’s history, might know how to deal with this. It will be a game of life and death as the USA is last in the table and gasping for air.