Sunday’s game against Canada was an ugly, mostly dull affair that saw the US once again drop points at home during World Cup Qualifying. The 1-1 draw was the second consecutive draw for the US to start qualifying (following last week’s 0-0 draw in El Salvador) and while that may not sound too terrible, it’s worth remember that the US still has most of its difficult games left to play with games away to Mexico and Costa Rica on the horizon.
During the last World Cup Qualifying cycle, dropping points at home and not winning away from home were killer blows for the United States. This has put the USMNT into a dangerous spot where not getting a result in their next qualifier could put them in a seriously deep hole. The opponent for what almost feels like a must-win game: Honduras.
Following the draw against El Salvador on Thursday, things went from bad to worse for the US as several unwelcome pieces of news filtered out of camp. Gio Reyna was ruled out of both the Canada and the Honduras games with an injury. Zack Steffen was ruled out after testing positive for COVID. But the biggest bombshell was announced on gameday as Weston McKennie was ruled out by Gregg Berhalter for an unspecified violation of team rules. When asked after the Canada game by the media what the violation was, Berhalter was adamant that he would not go into specifics other than saying it was a violation of team rules. The speculation, and indeed the word straight from McKennie, is that it was for violating COVID protocols somehow though no further details appear to be available (McKennie was also fined by Juventus earlier in the year for a similar violation). ESPN then revealed on Tuesday that McKennie was sent home to Italy for spending a night outside of the team’s COVID-19 bubble in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as bringing an unauthorized individual back inside the bubble to his hotel room on a different evening, both of which violated the team’s coronavirus protocols.
This is a level of distraction the US team does not need as they look to close out the current round of qualifiers on the road in Honduras.
Honduras comes into this game in the exact same boat as the US. They too got a 1-1 draw against Canada (though that game was in Toronto) and a 0-0 draw in El Salvador. But while the US comes into this game with a long unbeaten streak (11 straight without a loss and 20 in the last 21), Honduras is not on nearly as hot of a run. They’ve only won twice this year: their first two Gold Cup games against Grenada and Panama. They dropped their final group stage game to Qatar by a score of 2-0 before getting drilled by Mexico 3-0 in the quarterfinals. Their roster called up by manager Fabian Coito for this round of games features a ton of experience as eleven of their players have 20 or more caps. Five of their players are based in MLS: Maynor Figueroa and Oscar Boniek Garcia of the Houston Dynamo, Danilo Acosta of the LA Galaxy, Andy Najar of DC United, and Bryan Acosta of FC Dallas.
1. The US has not scored more than one goal in any of their last six games.
2. The current standings in the Octagonal after two games: Mexico (6pts), Panama (4pts), Canada (2pts), Honduras (2pts), USA (2pts), El Salvador (2pts), Costa Rica (1pt), Jamaica (0pts)
When and when to watch the game on US TV:
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Live on Telemundo, Paramount+ (English) and Universo (Spanish)
USA leads series 17-4-5
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Empower Field at Mile High
USA 1-0 Honduras
Current FIFA Ranking
Thursday, October 7, 2021
World Cup Qualifying
USA vs. Jamaica
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