Top Stories

U.S. national team practice report

U.S. Crest 


MIAMI- The U.S. men's national team has won just once on the road in the final round of World Cup qualifying, and Honduras has yet to lose a home qualifier this cycle, but those facts aren't keeping the U.S. team from believing that it can go to San Pedro Sula on Saturday and score a positive result.

"It's going to be a complicated game, but we're confident in the way we're playing," said Landon Donovan. "Plus, last time we went to Honduras we won 2-1 so [a win] is possible."

The last time the U.S. team went to Honduras was in 2001, when the Americans posted a 2-1 victory courtesy of an Earnie Stewart strike and Clint Mathis game-winning free kick. The U.S. team struck first in that game, and the team hopes to repeat that, as well as not concede early, as that has plagued them throughout the Hexagonal.

"A key this weekend is to make sure we don't give up an early goal. With the passion that their players have, that their crowd will have, giving up an early goal would hurt a lot," said Donovan.

While avoiding an early goal is in U.S. team's hands, the loss of Clint Dempsey is not. Dempsey was ruled out of the Honduras qualifier on Monday, and is questionable for the Costa Rica qualifier on Oct. 14. Midfielders Benny Feilhaber and Stuart Holden are the likely candidates to fill in for Dempsey.

"Clint is a big part of this team, and having him out everyone is going to have to pick it up a little bit," said Holden. "If I'm called upon, I'm ready… If given that opportunity, I won't let anybody down."

To pull out a win and qualify for the World Cup, however, the U.S. team will need a team effort in the cauldron that is San Pedro Sula.

"We understand that they're going to come out, all guns blazing," said Holden. "[They are] at home, with the crowd behind them, and if we can provide an attacking mentality then we'll have a good chance."

Some other news and notes from Tuesday's training session:

  • 20 of the 21 players available were in camp for the training session. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan is expected to arrive today and practice on Wednesday.

  • Tim Howard did practice today, but goalkeepers from Barry University also participated in the practice.

  • Clint Dempsey is in England receiving treatment for his injury. He has not been ruled out for next week's U.S.-Costa Rica qualifier.  
  • Steve Cherundolo is the only player on the U.S. roster to have played a World Cup qualifier in Honduras before, playing 90 minutes in the 2-1 victory in 2001.


What do you think of the U.S.'s optimistic outlook for their game at Honduras? Think Holden will get the start with Dempsey out? Hoping Dempsey heals up in time for next week's qualifier?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. IIRC, Cherundolo was very young and inexperienced in our 01 visit to Honduras and had some very ragged moments. I also recall he played even worse, as did the entire backline and most of the team, in the infamous RFK loss to Honduras later in that same Hex cycle.

    Still, I recall that the environment for the away game was not as hostile as in other visits to Central America. The Hondurans actually seemed to pride themselves on being civil. And many of them were very cool at the game in Chicago in June, inviting US fans to San Pedro Sula for the return leg.

    It also helped in Honduras that there is a track on the field or some other such buffer between the players and the fans, so the crowd is not on top of the players as at Saprissa or in San Salvador.

    Yes, we won that time in 01, but we were very lucky, truth be told. Stewart opened the scoring with a deflected bomb from distance, Rambo De Leon equalized with a true blast and Clint Mathis got a late winner with a free kick that Noel Valladares probably should have saved. I remember some other crazy moments near our goal, and I don’t know if we were saved primarily by their poor finishing or by Big Bald Bradley Friedel.

  2. No excuses on how tough it is to play on the road etc! The US needs to go down there with the attitude that they will win!

  3. Any thoughts on what formation Bradley will set up? I am guessing maybe not 4-4-2?

    Since our outside backs have been a little sketchy at times, perhaps the team needs to give more of that responsibility to the midfield and play a 3-5-2 which really might be 3-2-3-2 giving two holding mids. If the outside mids are fast and diligent, they can track back at speed to sport the defense on the flanks.

    3-2-3-2 gives you lovely diamonds for passing, as well. Then maybe Bob can more of the midfield talent

  4. @signor panizo: when did you drop the Gian? (and thanks for the nice write-up… keep ’em coming!)

    (SBI-He’s actually Peruvian, not Italian, and he went to just Franco this past weekend. We’re trying to save on letters.)

  5. @Chupacabra — Thanks for the link, very nice. (Though it is 4 times: they played twice in HON in 1965).

    @Dennis — You are correct that past results do not matter. I think we were all just curious. This will be a very difficult fixture for the USMNT.

    @FreddyFutbol — have we followed that formula in any of our qualifiers? Obv #1 is a persistent problem.

  6. To all the haters that have seem to forgotten that BB did play a very offensive minded team when we went to Costa Rica and we lost 3-1, so he has his reasons for wanting to leave some defense in the mid field, secondly I think this helps free up time for both Torres and Holden, I almost want to say Davies and ching up top, donovan, clark, bradley, holden, if anyone seems to loose it the midfield is very flexible Clark most likely is the first sub, then ching, we can use torres or benny in the midfield, and push landon up top, and then sub off davies for altidore when Davies tires, that way the guys that need to burn the most energy and cover the most ground can have no excuse because we have other attacking players that can take over when they get tired.

  7. Past results do not matter! What this USA team needs to show is the guts to face a hostile crowd, in a country that is presently having riots daily. The only thing that seems to unite the Hondurans is their passion for soccer and hunger for a W.C. bid. If the US begins to fear for their safety, things could go badly. OTOH, being a bit scared might just provide the adrenaline for a strong effort. (Regarding the flight or fight response, I hope the US players choose to fight. I like Holden’s comment.)

  8. the formula is simple:
    1) don’t get scored on early
    2) score first
    3) maintain some possession, if we are defending the whole time it’s over

    Whether we do that is another matter.

  9. Isaac:

    Interesting question, anyone have a definitive answer? Spent five minutes and it seems that we’ve played very few games on Honduran soil: the U.S. won 2-1 in 2001 in Honduras. In 1993, the U.S. won a friendly in Tegucigalpa. We won and drew there in WCQ in 1965.

    Anyone have any others?

  10. (SBI-Pablo, USA didn’t travel to Honduras in the last cycle because Honduras didn’t get out of the second round, so the U.S. team’s last visit there was in 2001.)

    My bad. I must have been thinking of the last match at Soldier Field…it sure felt like I was in Honduras! 😀

    (SBI-LOL, very true, that was like North San Pedro Sula that day.)

  11. An attacking lineup with Donovan, Feilhaber, Bradley and Holden would be nice to see. The problem is that Bradley does not have the guts to throw it out there from the start and play an attacking style and not his traditional counterattacking game.

  12. Nothing to do with the raging debate amongst some about his quality, and whether or not he tries hard with the Nats, etc., etc., but a part of me is glad the Deuce is going to be out just so he can get a little rest. There was a lot of sensible talk this summer about how long he’s been playing without any real sort of break. Provided we can get the requisite point in DC next week, which I think we can regardless, here’s hoping a little rest IS what Deuce needs and this helps him.

  13. Nice quote by Holden. I think the kid can do it. I like that he is good at creating opportunities for others, and he rarely squanders the ones he gets himself.

    Now, if I can only figure out if I’m going to be able to watch the game…

  14. Holden. “If I’m called upon, I’m ready… If given that opportunity, I won’t let anybody down.”

    i like to hear that

  15. pablo you will learn. IVES IS NEVER WRONG. he knows his stuff

    (SBI-I’m wrong sometimes, but I’m right more often than most. That said, I didn’t write this article.)

  16. I believe what you intended to write was, “The last time the U.S went to Honduras AND WON was in 2001.”

    (SBI-Pablo, USA didn’t travel to Honduras in the last cycle because Honduras didn’t get out of the second round, so the U.S. team’s last visit there was in 2001.)

  17. Whether I hope Clint Dempsey is healthy or not, idk yet. He hasn’t shown the energy that he shows when he plays with Fulham. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Maybe Harkes slide tackled Dempsey on the streets of London


Leave a Comment