By IVES GALARCEP
SALT LAKE CITY- Honduras won’t be at full-strength. It is something that everybody knows by now, and something the U.S. Men’s National Team is fully aware of heading into tonight’s World Cup qualifier at Rio Tinto Stadium. That being said, don’t expect the U.S. to take a victory tonight for granted, not with Honduras still possessing plenty of talent, and not with the bad taste of their February World Cup qualifying loss in Honduras still fresh in the memory banks.
“You look at it on paper and they are missing three, four, five key players, but that’s almost like a trap if you look at it like that and relax,” said USMNT defender Matt Besler. “We’ve got to make sure we come out and start the game on the right note, like we did against Panama. Get the crowd into it. Stamp our game and high pressure them up the field.”
“It’s still Honduras, and it’s still 90 minutes to go out and try to win the game,” said Michael Bradley. “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.
“We’re going to step on the field and try to impose ourselves on them, really from the start, with the speed of how we play, with the speed of our movement, when the ball turns over, closing down quickly, closing down aggressively, we’re going to try to tilt the bar our way right from the start.”
Honduras will be missing several key players, including suspended starters Victor Bernardez and Luis Garrido, as well as injured starter Maynor Figueroa and likely Oscar Boniek Garcia, but there is still plenty of talent on the Honduran squad to push the Americans. That includes some players the U.S. team is very familiar with.
Roger Espinoza was one of the key forces behind the Honduras victory in February, and he will be vital to any chance the Catrachos have of pulling the upset today. He is likely to face off against some familiar faces as former Sporting Kansas City teammates Graham Zusi and Besler are expected to start for the U.S. tonight.
“I’ve always said when he’s been on my team that he’s a guy you hate playing against, but you love to have him on your team,” Besler said. “This will be the first time I’m playing against him. He’s a really good player with a terrific engine. He’s a guy we’re going to have to keep an eye on and make sure we match his intensity.”
Besler will see another familiar face in Honduran colors tonight in forward Carlo Costly, who has recovered from an injury and is expected to start tonight. Besler and Costly had their share of battles when Costly was with the Houston Dynamo in 2011 and knows just how dangerous he can be.
“Costly for me is a tricky guy because one play he’s not in it, and you think he’s taking a play off, and the next minute he’s behind you putting the ball in the back of the net,” Besler said. “He’s a guy you always have to watch. He may not seem like he’s in the game in the first 30 minutes, then boom, he scores a goal.”
Besler has settled into a starting role in the U.S. back-line and has quietly established himself as arguably the best centerback in the pool. His partnership with Omar Gonzalez in the U.S. central defense continues to improve, and will be key to stifling the Honduras attack.
“I think we’ve grown a lot,”Besler said of his centerback partnership with Gomzalez. “I feel very comfortable with him. I think it’s becoming more natural, our partnership, but at the same time we have to keep improving.”
Imagine if Omar and Besler played on the same club team….
What ever happened to Timmy’s yellow card? I remember reading that he would be suspended for yellow card accumulation.
no, that was his first card. another one and he will be suspended.
why does Honduras wear a giant H on their unis? No other country I could think of does that… seems kinda JV-ish
Did I miss something? Is Costly back with the team? I have been reading all week that Costly had left returned to his club after conflict with the coach of H-MNT.
That was Bengston.
Thanks. Rough week at work, and it’s only Tues. Brain FAIL
Happens to the best of us.
USMNT wins this evening and they clinch at least third place and go to the World Cup. In that scenario, Mexico (currently 3rd) and Honduras (4th) play each other and they both can’t get 13 points.
Are you serious, Clark?
You get 3 points for a win. Think you’re using fuzzy math here.
Yeah, I don’t think that math works out. Hard to look too closely on my phone, but imagine the US wins tonight and then loses out. We’d have 13, CR and Mex 11, Pan 9, Hon 7. Mex and CR would each need 1 win to get to 14 among 3 other games (not against US). That’s possible even if they play each other twice. That’s said, we might clinch at least 4th tonight, but not sure without thinking more than I care to now :-).
Well they won’t officially clinch but in reality they just need to win this game. If they lose the next two to Costa Rica and Mexico they would still be no lower than third could easily be in second with only 2 games to go against the bottom dwellers.
I am not nearly has confident about this game. Guys out, US thinks they are rolling all leads to over confidence, especially when I don’t think the US is where they need to be yet. Bradley and Cameron in the middle sure. Everyone else, nah.
Altidore is on a run and is a beast, maybe that is enough against backup center back with VB out.
I think a draw is both likely and acceptable.
I’d love to see a big win, but I am not that confident either. Honduras still got some good players, including some playing in the EPL. And the US is not nearly as good as some seem to think after one decent showing in a year and a half (and, sorry, but I’m not counting the friendly against unmotivated Germany B/C team).
There is no reason the US should not win by at least two goals. The backline has improved, Jozy is starting to get fed scoring chances and he’s converting and JK has dissipated much of the tension by getting the right tactics for the personnel and rallying the team. The US is rising while Honduras is falling with a lot of tension with players out and a key player going awol.
love that backhanded compliment from Besler about Costly
lol, that’s what i thought, too. totally accurate, though.
Any team with Espinoza and Palacios in the middle should not be taken lightly. Even worse is the temperature for this match strongly favors Honduras. 90 degrees at kickoff? Smh.
Shaking your head? Do you know how hot and humid it gets in Kansas? Deuce and Jozy grew up playing in the hot weather, MB plays in Rome where it isn’t always comfy. I don’t think they are going to succumb to weather now they are in form and fit together.
Don’t be so reactionary man, it’ll be a good match regardless and weather in this case is not an excuse.
But it’s a dry heat.
Seriously, though, the team has been here training in the heat for several days, I’m guessing they’re pretty well acclimated to it by now.
Good point, it’s the humid heat, like here in Hou and Hon, that gets players. The altitude might get Hon though.
I’ll spot Costly 1 after 80 minutes, and say 4-1 to the good guys. (Jozy, Deuce and Mikey scoring. I dont care who gets the brace.)
Wow Raymon; you’re not short on confidence for our boys!!
It’s a perfect storm Matt. Confidence riding high, Jozy hungry + service coming into the box now, HON short on starting defenders, playing at home in Sandy. We scored 4 against a German B-team so why not against a depleted HON? It’s a chance to make a “statement game” going into the break, so yes, I predict our boys go for it.
really looking forward to this game. i truly hope the US opens the flood gates.
Does the U.S. really have flood gates to open? They’ve barely scratched together any form in last two years. They’re not exactly cage lions from Brazil.