Honduras will be without Captain Amado Guevara for the mammoth clash with the United States on Saturday. While the USA is without Clint Dempsey, the Americans come in with a full complement of players otherwise. (Except for Mo Edu, who of course has been injured for some time now.)
Confidence has been high at US Camp this week in Miami. Charlie Davies told Reuters that the US could win the World Cup next year. Landon Donovan’s amazing summer of football likely ranks him among the top international footballers in the world. (note before people go crazy on that statement, Donovan is one of the top international footballers- perhaps the most a valuable to his successful team than any other in the world. This statement is based on his form for the US versus other comparable players form for their national teams. It in no way reflects on club performances) Tim Howard’s goalkeeping has been spectacular, and skipper Carlos Bocanegra’s solid play has been a storyline of the French League.
The US also has a record number of players in Europe right now, while Honduras has comparatively few. The Hondurans almost got Osman Chavez over to Spurs right before the deadline, but the deal fell through.
When you add in the uncertain political situation, the US should be favored to win this game. But perhaps, they should not be favored. For some time now, I have touted Honduras as an emerging CONCACAF superpower. The Honduran program, I believe has the right combination of technically skilled players and athletically gifted ones as well to really compete with the United States and to overtake Mexico in the race for CONCACAF’s top dog.
But for years now, Honduras has under performed at the top level. Whether it was political instability affecting football, the inability of the players to get along, or a coaching crisis, Honduras has faced it.
While Honduras has far fewer players in Europe than the US, those that are in top leagues, tend to play vital roles for their clubs. While automatic US first team selection Michael Bradley has only played 135 minutes of competitive league football since the last international break, his Honduran counterpart Wilson Palacios has started every Premier League match for third place Spurs. While Jozy Altidore sits on the Hull bench behind a Dutch World Cup and Champions League veteran, Carlo Costly is playing and scoring goals in Europe. While Oguchi Onyewu hardly sees the field for Milan, Maynor Figeroua has played just about every minute of the Premier League season for Wigan.
So while American fans and players expect to come out on top, it would be difficult to imagine a more difficult opponent, with more in form players than the US will face in a critical game on Saturday. Even those players that aren’t in form, for example Inter’s surplus to requirements striker David Suazo, have a quality the US defense doesn’t see much in CONCACAF. The US beat Honduras three times this summer, but Thomas, Suazo, and Torino’s Julio Cesar De Leon (aka Rambo) did not play in any of the three matchups.
The United States has performed less than convincingly on the road in CONCACAF. One goal victories on the road against the likes of Cuba, Barbados, Guatemala, and Trinidad were met with criticism at home. But a one goal victory in San Pedro Sula would clinch US passage to South Africa, and be a monumental achievement against such a talented side.