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USMNT vs. Honduras: Key matchups to watch

The U.S. Men’s National Team is the heavy favorite to defeat Honduras in Thursday’s Concacaf Nations League semifinal, but the Americans aren’t going to be able to just roll over the Catrachos. They will need to perform, and avoid the kind of mistakes Honduras is built to jump all over.

The Hondurans have two dangerous attacking threats in Alberth Elis and Antony Lozano, who will look to put pressure on a USMNT back-line that has been shown to be vulnerable to pace on the counterattack.

The biggest question surrounding Honduras is whether the Central Americans will sit very deep, or try to open up. It would stand to reason that the Catrachos would want to keep numbers back in order guard against being ripped apart by Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, but if the Americans find an early goal, Honduras will have no choice but to open up.

Here is the projected Honduras starting lineup:

The loss of Romell Quioto to injury leaves Honduras without another dangerous speed threat, but does open the door for Jonathan Rubio to start. Rubio is skilled on the ball, and can take defenders on, but he doesn’t have the elite speed to really burn by defenders.

Honduras could deploy a 4-3-3, with Bryan Acosta in a deeper role alongside Deybi Flores has they try to crowd the middle, but even if they succeed in limiting space for Weston McKennie and Sebastian Lletget, the question still remains how will Honduras deal with Pulisic and Reyna?

Here is a look at key matchups to watch:

Christian Pulisic vs. Kevin Alvarez

Kevin Alvarez is Honduras’ best fullback, and arguably best defender, so matching him up against Pulisic is the best the Catrachos can muster against the Chelsea winger. It doesn’t mean Pulisic can’t torch Alvarez, but Alvarez should put up a better fight than Alvarado on the left.

GIO REYNA vs. EVER ALVARADO

Reyna really could be the key to opening things up. His ability to dribble at defenders, but also combine well, will make him too much for Alvarado to deal with.

If you are Gregg Berhalter, attacking Alvarado should be a priority, which is why you could very well see Sergiño Dest at right back. Not only would he be able to feast on the space on that side of the field, a Dest start at right back would mean a start for Antonee Robinson at left back, where he could offer a better defensive obstacle for Elis.

JOHN BROOKS vs. ALBERTH ELIS

This isn’t a one-on-one matchup Brooks or Berhalter are going to want to wind up with too often, but more than Brooks needing to deal with Elis alone, the Wolfsburg defender will need to keep the defense organized and ready for the inevitable Honduras counters.

Elis has scary speed, which is why we are more likely to see Mark McKenzie get the nod next to Brooks than Matt Miazga. That being said, there is clearly a chance we could see Elis isolated on Brooks, and it will up to the defender to deal with him.

SEBASTIAN LLETGET vs. DEYBI FLORES

The goals have been rolling in for Lletget with the USMNT, and the tough-tackling Flores will be looking to try and contain him. Of course, Honduras will be aware of McKennie’s ability to float into dangerous spaces, but Lletget’s ability to create for teammates make him someone Honduras can’t afford to give time and space to.

If Honduras plays Bryan Acosta next to Flores in a dual-six setup, then it will be a bit tougher to open up the Catrachos centrally, but with the wing talent on the USMNT, the Americans should find success attacking the flanks.

MAYNOR FIGUEROA vs. JOSH SARGENT

Figueroa is 38, and hasn’t been playing regularly in MLS, but Sargent enters the match needing to show he can produce goals. Sargent will have a chance to show off his hold-up play, and Honduras could look to have the younger Marcelo Pereira battle Sargent while allowing Figueroa some freedom to put out fires.

Sargent needs a goal in this one, and he stands a good chance of capitalizing on the havoc the USMNT wingers should wreak on the Honduran fullbacks


What match-ups are you looking forward to seeing? Which matchup do you see the Americans being able to exploit the most? What matchup worries you the most?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. What a night for young Mr. Siebatcheu aka Pefok! Thanks to a timely assist from McKennie and a good leave from Aaronson, if I saw that go by correctly at high speed. I wasn’t sure they were going to pull it off, but they managed. Woo-hoo, or rather, whew.
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    The consensus afterward was that the US has a lot of impressive individual talent, but still needs a lot of work on tactics and team play.
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    Now the Univisión hosts are pleading with the Mexican fans to refrain from the offensive chant that could be costly to their team. Hopefully they also have a Plan B, like some loud music.
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  2. With about 20 minutes to go before PKs, and Hondurans going down right and left as altitude and exertion take their toll, Balboa and Pavón comment wtte that US players keep clumping up in the middle, even running into the same space, when they need to spread out more in order to play.
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    Multiple subs …
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  3. The key matchups so far have been Honduras versus the open goalmouth abandoned by Steffen on a wild goose chase. Goal mouth remains Unscored upon.

    Also Yuell versus any moving object. Object is winning.

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  4. Yueill looking like Yueill out there, zero threat in attack and won’t run into that space to unlock the D (Honduras literally daring him to try). It does open it up for others to drop in there, that’s been good for Gio, but Yueill only dared it twice I think. looks scared. Team created some great chances, Dest coming up big defensivley. need a finish

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  5. The Brooks vs. Elis duel, if you can call it that when Brooks may need some help, is looking dangerous. The guys on Univisión were already counting the number of fouls Brooks had committed without getting a yellow card, the third one being a high knee into Elis’s butt, when Elis nearly set up a header that was miraculously saved by Sargent’s header out, and a fight nearly broke out, with Elis looking understandably irritated. The commentators are inclined to criticize the Jamaican ref for not taking firmer control of the game.
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    No one following the game here? Too many times before without much response?
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    The audio interruptions for Google ads are quite annoying. All the more reason to use DuckDuckGo.
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    Some pretty big misses from Reyna, McKennie, Pulisic … but at least they were chances.
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    • The sideline guy reported just before the half that Berhalter was looking frustrated with the defense, after Elis easily blew past Robinson, McKenzie, and anyone else in the vicinity, again. Surely the problem isn’t just Brooks’s, but no one else seems to be able to slow Elis down earlier either, or pick off passes before they get to him.
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      No wonder the Houston Dynamo misses Elis. And Maynor Figueroa isn’t bad, considering his age.
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      I’m not sure why some people here seemed to think this would be a particularly easy game.
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      • It was my hope it would be! I can’t lie about that! USA could easily be up 3-0 at the half.

  6. Honduras is much older but our players are a bit rookies sneaky behavior in these games and poor quality of refs.

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  7. squad numbers 1-11 suggest
    steffen
    dest miazga brooks robinson
    mckennie adams aaronson
    reyna sargent pulisic

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