USA vs. Honduras preview: Pressure is on USMNT

Just when it was starting to feel like there was some life in the program and the fans had reason to be optimistic again, the rug was pulled out from under everybody’s feet as the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) got the summer off to an inauspicious beginning. Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Switzerland snapped a long unbeaten stretch for the US and underscored the fact that Gregg Berhalter can bully the CONCACAF minnows but when it comes to playing something resembling a quality opponent, he’s pretty much toothless as a coach.

The loss to Switzerland was especially dispiriting because the US did get off to a very bright start as Sebastian Lletget (who has been on fire for the US with four goals in the last six games) put the US ahead 1-0 in the first five minutes of the game. But the Swiss pulled level just five minutes later. The second half saw a complete collapse by the US as Berhalter’s inability to make second half adjustments reared its ugly head yet again and the Swiss duly took the lead in the 63rd minute to secure the win.

At the end of the day it was just a friendly, which most of the mainstream American soccer media was quick to remind everybody of that fact. But the writing is on the wall as far as how they think results are going to go when they are keen to let the fans know that results this summer (friendlies, Nations League, or Gold Cup) don’t matter as long as Berhalter is able to find the best squad for World Cup Qualifying. Most fans have found this line of thinking to be both annoying and offensive. Berhalter has been in charge of the USMNT since December 2018 and he’s still getting a free pass from the media for poor results, all in the name of finding the first choice World Cup Qualifying roster. A pair of embarrassing home shutout losses to Jamaica and Venezuela prior to the 2019 Gold Cup didn’t matter. A shutout loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup Final didn’t matter. A 3-0 drubbing against Mexico shortly thereafter didn’t matter. Losing to Canada for the first time since Ronald Reagan was President didn’t matter. Giving away a lead and losing to Switzerland didn’t matter. And apparently, not winning the Nations League or the Gold Cup won’t matter either. At what point will it matter?

Honduras comes into the Nations League on a bad run of form, though because of the COVID-19 pandemic they haven’t played too terribly much since the fall of 2019. Following their poor showing at the 2019 Gold Cup, they won a pair of friendlies in September before performing well in the Nations League (three wins and a draw) to earn a spot in the semi-finals. In 2020, they only managed to play two games, both friendlies: a 1-1 draw with Nicaragua and a 2-1 loss to Guatemala. This year has been more of the same, with only two friendlies under their belt: a 1-1 draw against Belarus and a 2-1 loss to Greece.

Their roster for these final two Nations League games is mostly domestic based with a few MLS players and a few European players as well. The MLS group consists of Bryan Acosta of FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo duo of Maynor Figueroa and Boniek García. And interestingly enough, all four European players are based on the Iberian Peninsula: Anthony Lozano of Cadiz in Spain plus a trio of players from Portugal with Alberth Elis and Jorge Benguché both playing for Boavista and Jonathan Toro playing for Chaves.

Notes:
1. Sunday’s loss to Switzerland was the first time during Gregg Berhalter’s tenure that the US has lost a game in which they scored.

When and where to watch the game on US TV and streaming

Thursday, June 3, 2021
Empower Field at Mile High
Denver, Colorado
7:30pm ET
Live on CBS Sports Network, Univision, TUDN and Paramount+ (free trial)

All-Time Series

USA leads series 16-4-5

Last Meeting

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Estadio Olimpico
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
USA 1-1 Honduras

Current FIFA Ranking

USA: 20
Honduras: 76

Next Game

Sunday, June 6, 2021
Nations League
Empower Field at Mile High
Denver, Colorado
USA vs. Mexico or Costa Rica

 

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