June 17, 2013
NOT TAKEN LIGHTLY
Honduras limps into WCQ match with USA
SANDY, Utah -- Honduras will be entering its Tuesday World Cup qualifier with one foot tied behind its back with several key players on the sidelines.
|Michael Bradley and the U.S. National Team know better than to take anything for granted against Honduras on Tuesday.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Los 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 for the CONCACAF hexagonal and striker Jerry Bengtson bolted the team after having a spat with coach Luis Fernando Suarez.
That's five quality players.
But if the United States thinks it will have an easy time of it in the World Cup qualifier in Sandy, Utah, then think again.
"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 (2-2-1, seven), who dealt the U.S. its only loss in this round (a 2-1 home win on Feb. 6) is in fourth place and needs to win.
"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 Hondurans are the last team to defeat the United States on American soil, 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 (22-0-2).
"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."
While the U.S. leads the hexagonal, Klinsmann said it has been a difficult group to navigate.
“This hexagonal group proves how difficult it is and how balanced North and Central America is now in soccer terms," he said. "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."
The team's rosters:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC) -
Goalkeepers: Noel Valladares (Olimpia), Donis Escober (Olimpia), Kevin Hernandez (Real España)
Defenders: Brayan Beckeles (Olimpia), Victor Bernardez (San Jose), Osman Chavez (Wisla Krakow), Juan Carlos Garcia (Olimpia), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic), Jhony Leveron (Vancouver Whitecaps), Juan Pablo Montes (Motagua), Arnold Peralta (Rangers), Orlin Peralta (Vida), Jose Velasquez (Victoria)
Midfielders: Marvin Chavez (San Jose), Jorge Claros (Hibernian), Roger Espinoza (Wigan Athletic), Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo), Luis Garrido (Estrella Roja), Mario Martinez (Seattle Sounders), Andy Najar (Anderlecht), Wilson Palacios (Stoke City)
Forwards: Carlo Costly (Veria), Rony Martínez (Real Sociedad), Jerry Palacios (Liga Deportiva Alajuelense), Diego Reyes (Real Sociedad), Rojer Rojas (Olimpia)