Tomorrow night at 10:30 p.m. ET our national team will have the opportunity to change the future of the Hexagonal group in hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The USMNT will be facing Honduras in San Jose, CA.
We don’t want to call it a must-win game, but it’s really close to that. With a surprisingly bad start in the first two matches, it’s time to add some points to the table. After reading various newspapers from our rival’s country, here is some info I can give you about what’s coming to the USMNT before the game.
The upcoming World Cup qualifying match is crucial to both the United States and Honduras. The Honduras team is currently in fourth place in the Hexagonal group, and the Americans sit in sixth, the very bottom of the table. A win would benefit either team in its respectful pursuit to reach Russia in 2018.
Honduras has been on U.S. soil for the past six days, with the team practicing in Florida. Honduras Head Coach Jorge Luis Pinto and staff have been acclimatizing the players to the humidity and heat that the team will be facing in San Jose. More than half of the players are currently participating in the Honduran League, along with five competing in MLS. The athletes that are taking more time to get ready for the game are the European players that are more affected by the time change and have to be adjusted to a new routine, as well as the difference in weather.
As mentioned above, Honduras is including five players from MLS in this squad: Maynor Figueroa (captain, FC Dallas), Boniek Garcia, Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis (all three from the Houston Dynamo) and Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City). As reported in Honduran newspaper Diez, Pinto has revealed the highly anticipated lineup for the upcoming game. The starting XI, per Pinto’s past press conference, is as follows (5-2-1-2): Donis Escober; Brayan Beckeles, Maynor Figueroa, Henry Figueroa, Ever Alvarado, Emilio Izaguirre; Jorge Claros, Espinoza; Mario Martinez; Quioto, Elis. It looks like a more defensive formation with five in the back, and the main idea to play quick balls to the sides and use Martinez (ENPPI, Egypt) as the playmaker for the team.
According to Diario Marca from Madrid, Houston teammates Quioto and Elis are in a top 10 list of players to watch during these Hexagonal games. Both are coming into this match with great individual starts. Elis has scored three goals in the same amount of games for the Dynamo, and Quioto has collected a couple of assists during the same time frame.
Pinto has said that nowadays a tie or loss against the USMNT is not like before; three points has never been more valuable or desirable. The coach believes that Honduras can come out with a win. The main idea for los catrachos is to play long balls to the three guys up top and keep concentration high during the defensive moments in San Jose.
The last game between these two national teams was June 18, 2013 at Rio Tinto Stadium during the World Cup qualifiers. The USMNT won, 1-0, with a goal scored by Jozy Altidore in the 74th minute. We all hope a similar result will come our way this Friday. Bruce Arena knows this could be the start of a comeback in the group to position the U.S. back on the road to Russia 2018.