November’s pair of World Cup qualifiers was an unmitigated disaster for the US Men’s National Team (USMNT), so much so that it cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job. The US saw their winning streak over Mexico in Columbus snapped and then got mauled 4-0 down in Costa Rica. Bruce Arena had an interesting January Camp and is ready for his third go round in the Hexagonal. It’s pretty much must win in both games as the US takes on Honduras at home before traveling down to Panama.
When the US squad was initially announced there were generally positive reviews of it. The roster has undergone a somewhat significant transformation since then with Fabian Johnson and Bobby Wood being forced to withdraw because of injuries picked up on club duty and Brad Guzan being sent home due to his wife having given birth. As replacements Arena has called in Sacha Kljestan, Chris Wondolowski and David Bingham to fill the void. Most of the old regulars are in there such as Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Alejandro Bedoya, Tim Howard, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron and Graham Zusi. Clint Dempsey has also been recalled to the USMNT after missing everything post-Copa America last year with a heart issue (despite Arena saying in January that Dempsey would not be called in for these two qualifiers). And he’s been on something of a roll for the Sounders in the first few weeks of the new MLS season, scoring two goals in three games, as has Jordan Morris who is back in the national team fold.
For the US, three points at home against Honduras are critical and at least a point on the road against Panama is very necessary. Thankfully, the Hex has a forgiving format and the US has always had a crisis moment or two on the way to qualification. Just last cycle the US dropped their Hex opener in Honduras and bounced back to go on a five game unbeaten run in qualifying. However, the US has never been in quite this deep of a hole and hasn’t ever switched managers in the middle of the Hex. Luckily, Bruce Arena has been through this before so the hope is that he can get the job done and get the US to Russia 2018. The first step on that road is against Honduras.
Honduras currently sits fourth in the Hex with three points (while the US sits last). Fourth would be good enough to make it to the inter-confederations playoff against the fifth place team in Asia. Honduras dropped their first game at home, 1-0 against Panama before bouncing back and getting a 3-1 at home against Trinidad & Tobago. More recently, they won the Copa Centroamericana (with four wins and a draw) clinching a berth in this summer’s Gold Cup in the process. There was some concern in 2015 that Jorge Luis Pinto might not be the man for Los Catrachos but he turned that perception around with a strong 2016 and a good start to 2017. After all, he did lead Costa Rica to the quarter-finals at the World Cup in 2014. The Honduras roster consists of a number of players plying their trade in MLS and three from European clubs: Maynor Figueroa of FC Dallas, Oscar Boniek Garcia, Romell Quioto and Alberth Ellis all of the Houston Dynamo and Roger Espinoza of Sporting Kansas City round out the MLS players while Emillio Izaguirre of Celtic in Scotland, Andy Najar of Anderlect in Belgium and Anthony Lozano of Tenerife in Spain round out the European contingent.
• Against Mexico in November, the US saw a home unbeaten streak in qualifying that stretched back to 2001 end. The last team to win a qualifier in the US prior to Mexico? Honduras.
• Jermaine Jones and Timmy Chandler are both suspended for the Honduras game due to yellow card accumulation.
When and where to find the game on US TV and streaming
Friday, March 24, 2017
San Jose, CA
10:55pm ET kickoff
US TV: FOX Sports 1, Univision or UniMas and Univision Deportes
US streaming: fuboTV (free 7-day trial)
USA leads 15-4-4
July 7, 2015
USA 2-1 Honduras
Current FIFA ranking
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
World Cup Qualifying
Panama vs. USA
Estadio Rommel Fernandez
Panama City, Panama
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