The United States Men’s National Team will begin the final group round of 2014 World Cup qualification next week with a trip to Honduras. Although this will be just the first of 10 matches to determine America’s World Cup fate, starting off in the right way and securing a win against a team that will be eager and hungry to reach the World Cup as well is sure to present a tricky proposition.
Honduras is one of those teams that may or may not make the 2014 World Cup. They were present in South Africa 2010 and also performed admirably in the 2012 London Olympics where they defeated Spain. The team is made up of several international stars who play abroad and can definitely cause the United States some trouble playing on their home soil.
Their defense will prove especially difficult to break down for the Americans. Maynor Figueroa is a powerful defender with an incredible left-footed shot that you can watch here. He plays for Wigan Athletic of the English Premier League and has made a solid career and brings talent and experience to the Honduras backline. Additionally, Emilio Iaguirre is a very skilled left back who plays at Celtic in Scotland. He has been linked to Barcelona in the past and is as good as they come.
Several other Honduras players play in Britain like Wilson Palacios and midfielder Roger Espinoza, who impressed in the Olympics.
America will be favored as usual with the lineup of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore. Dempsey has been in solid form with Tottenham and recently scored a dramatic late-game equalizer against Manchester United. Donovan is coming off of a fantastic MLS Cup victory and Jozy Altidore has been wonderful scoring tons of goals for AZ Alkmaar of Holland. Hopefully some of this magic will carry over to the United States National Team in this game.
Clearly this will be a game that showcases America’s offensive prowess against the mighty Honduras defense. This will be a tricky nut to crack, especially on a scrappy Honduras field with a passionate fan base that has seen Honduras find success in recent years.
This game is all about setting the tone for the qualification group. If America can head on the road and scrap a win, one of the toughest tasks will be completed and the future will look ever so bright. However, if the United States suffers a loss, or even a draw, questions will be raised and nervousness will infiltrate the American camp. This is a game that a team like America should be able to win, especially against one of those teams hoping to scrape by and qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
The Americans need to come into this match with a good mindset. Patience will be required throughout the team as Honduras is tough to break down. Additionally, goalkeeper Tim Howard may need to step in and make the necessary saves. Although I fully expect the USA to have the majority of chances and shots, Honduras will get a chance and Howard will be called into action. Let’s hope for an American victory, 2-1.