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June 5, 2009
U.S. in Chicago, Ready to Face Honduras

By Kathryn L. Knapp,

Undaunted by Wednesday's gut-wrenching 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, US National Team defender Carlos Bocanegra says Saturday's game against Honduras at Soldier Field "can't come fast enough for me."
Undaunted by Wednesday's gut-wrenching 3-1 loss to Costa Rica, US National Team defender Carlos Bocanegra says Saturday's game against Honduras at Soldier Field "can't come fast enough for me."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CHICAGO, Ill. – The U.S. Men’s National Team is ready to get back to the pitch. Wednesday’s loss was an embarrassment on a number of levels. But now, it’s time to get back to business.

The Americans arrived in Chicago on Thursday and have since been focusing on the Honduras match. They have a small window to reevaluate and get the next game-plan ready.

“We always consider that tomorrow’s game will be the toughest,” U.S. Men’s Soccer Head Coach Bob Bradley said. “We have a quick need to assess everything after the first game. We have to make changes quick. There are things we need to do in order to be successful for the next match.”

Honduras (1-1-1, 4 points) is tough. There’s no question about it. In their last World Cup qualifier, they posted a 3-1 win over Mexico. The Club dropped a 2-0 loss to Costa Rica, and tied Trinidad & Tobago 1-1And the last time they faced the USA in a qualifier they earned a 3-2 win on September 1, 2001. However that loss marks the last loss in World Cup Qualifiers for the Americans on domestic soil.

“We know they’re a talented and athletic team,” Bradley said. “They have very, very good individual players and they play well as a team.”

U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra agreed.

“Playing against Honduras won’t be easy,” Bocanegra said. “We’re facing a team who we’re fighting with at the top of the standings. If we don’t get the win, we’ll be fighting even harder to advance.”

The USA (2-1-1, 7 points) isn’t too shabby at qualifiers either. Prior to Wednesday, the Americans sat first in the CONCACAF standings with a 2-0-1 record and a five-goal differential. Costa Rica (3-1-0, 9 points) took over first-place with the 3-1 win on Wednesday. The U.S. men said the best thing they could do was leave that game in the past and look to the next game.

Former Fire defender Bocanegra said the club is ready to move forward.

“I love getting back out on the field. The game can’t come fast enough for me,” Bocanegra said. “The loss was a wake up call. We knew it was going to be a difficult game, and we got our butts kicked. If that’s not a wake up call, I don’t know what is.”

Michael Bradley will miss the game due to yellow card accumulation. Brian Ching is out with an injury. And veteran defender Frankie Hejduk is questionable for the match. Conor Casey, the Colorado Rapids forward who leads MLS with eight goals and one assist, joined the club upon arrival to Chicago.

Soldier Field is familiar stomping ground for the USA as it is the home of the U.S. Soccer offices. The last time in Chicagoland Sept. 10, 2008 the club earned a 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago at Toyota Park. In 2007, they made three appearances including winning the Gold Cup. The Americans posted 2-1 results in Gold Cup play over Canada and Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals and finals in June 2007. The U.S. took on Brazil in September of 2007. Bocanegra scored first, but Brazil scored last in a 4-2 win for the visitors.

“We love it here,” Bocanegra said. “Obviously Soldier Field is a fantastic venue. We’ll have a good crowd. We’re ready to get back out there.”

U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said that after the loss the team was focused on one thing – Honduras. And now they’ll head to Soldier Field for a near-capacity crowd and hope to come out with a win, sparked by the crowd’s energy.

“It’s exciting to get back out there,” Howard said. “The Gold Cup final against Mexico was an exciting game for everyone. As a player you want to be involved in big games with great crowds. We thrive off playing in front of big crowds.”

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