The game against Honduras this weekend is massive. Win, and the US can start buying those non-refundable tickets to South Africa and will probably win CONCACF. Lose, and the game against Costa Rica the following Wednesday will be a pressure-cooker. Some random thoughts….
The Honduras game will be played in….Honduras. Despite the political instability in Honduras, it seems that the game will be played. Barring a dangerous situation arising, FIFA has mandated that the game take place in San Pedro Sula, and Honduras has been tough as nails at home. They have four wins in four games at home, and have only given up two goals. Figueroa, Palacios and Costly have been on fire all WCQ. This is the toughest test the US will have in this region outside of the trip to Azteca.
Clint Dempsey is out. Dempsey sprained his shoulder this weekend and will miss the trip to Honduras and will also likely miss the game against Costa Rica. Even though Dempsey has scored five goals during the qualifying process, I am not sure I will miss him. He has played poorly since the Confederations Cup and has given the ball away far too easily. I will be real interested to see if Bradley puts in more of a diamond formation, if Holden or Torres is worked into the lineup in place of Dempsey, and whether they will be driven to take advantage of their opportunity.
The US will have several players who will want to send a message to their club team. Onyewu finally got to take the pitch for Milan this weekend. Bradley finally got 90 minutes this past weekend for Monchengladbach. Altidore has yet to fully impress at Hull. Jonathon Spector has been a spectator for the last several West Ham games. All of them want to make the case to their managers that they should be starting 11 regulars. They all need a good game to help them with their argument.
This game will be super exciting to watch ….on ussoccer.com’s matchtracker. It is sheer lunacy that a game of this magnitude will not be broadcast in the US. It is available on a close-circuit basis to a variety of pubs in the US, but I am in Los Angeles, and it is not being shown in English on a single TV in LA. It is simply a scandal. That ESPN or FSC was out-bid by something called Copa TV is shameful. Because Copa TV does not have exchange relationships with the networks, it is not even clear that the highlights will be released to the sports shows.