KRIS LINDSAY - Monday, June 17, 2013
The United States national team will host Honduras on Tuesday night with an opportunity to strengthen its grip on first place in the Hexagonal.
It has been a while since the United States has felt a negative vibe following a match. They have battled to a draw in Azteca, secured three points at Jamaica, and held up their home field advantage in a two goal victory against Panama. Tuesday's opponent, Honduras, delivered the last time the red white and blue had the poor taste of defeat in their mouths, defeating the Americans 2-1 in San Pedro Sula.
"It's a six pointer," described head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "It's a must win. The next qualifier will be in September, and you set the tone of that match. We are highly motivated. It sits heavily in my stomach what happened in February."
The Americans have changed form, largely due to the success of forward Jozy Altidore, who is looking to add on to his streak of three consecutive games with a goal.
The offense has come on strong, but it is the play of the defense that has turned heads. In five qualifiers so far, the American defense led by Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez has held a clean sheet in three of the games, securing 10 points total. "Matt (Besler) and Omar (Gonzalez) have the talent to become real top end talented centerbacks," said head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
One of the positions most at question during the match will be the left back position, currently vacated with DeMarcus Beasley out on yellow card accumulation. The spot will likely fall to either Fabian Johnson who has been playing on the left wing, or Tijuana defender Edgar Castillo. However, with the return of Jermaine Jones to the midfield after being declared fit to play following his concussion, the position could fall on the hands of the versatile Geoff Cameron. Cameron has featured as the center back, right back, and defensive midfielder for the USA.
On the other side, Brad Evans is regarded highly by Klinsmann, who has employed Evans at right back. "(Evans) has made a very strong case for himself going forward to the World Cup in Brazil."
Both teams are coming off confidence boosting victories, with the USA defeating Panama 2-0 on goals from Altidore and Eddie Johnson. Honduras also claimed a win over bottom of the table Jamaica, boosting the Central American side to the fourth and coveted playoff spot.
The Hondurans will attempt for a result at Rio Tinto while missing several starters. Jerry Bengston, although having scored for the Hondurans the last time they met the Americans, flew to Boston to join with his club after a reported difference between the forward and his head coach.
Honduras will also miss their top choice center backs. Maynor Figueroa is out with injury, while Victor Bernardez is out on suspension. Midfielder Luis Garrido has also been suspended on yellow card accumulation, and winger Boniek Garcia is questionable with an injury of his own.