It’s the final match of the first window of Concacaf World Cup qualifying tonight. Can the United States get a result against a difficult Honduras side to redeem themselves after two disappointing performances?
Manager Fabián Coito rotated his squad heavily against El Salvador with an eye on this match against the United States. The lineup tonight should consist of a largely first-choice group, who will sit in a low block and cause issues with direct balls over the top for their front line to run onto.
Houston Dynamo defender Maynor Figueroa has been a mainstay for the team for well over a decade, but at 38, this World Cup cycle is almost certainly his last with the National Team. He’s partnered by Marcelo Pereira, who complements Figueroa’s ability in possession with strong open-field tackling.
Deybi Flores is a lock in this squad in a deep lying midfield role, playing every minute for Honduras before getting a rest against El Salvador. He cleans things up in front of the backline while also being the starting point for most of their attacks with precise passing and an ability to pick out line-breaking balls through the defense.
Honduras will be without both first-choice strikers, as Alberth Elis and Jerry Bengston are both unavailable with injury. That should give Anothony Lozano a chance to play as a classic hold-up striker, while Romell Quioto could give Honduras a different look with his preference to play on the back shoulder.
Honduras is a difficult squad, and especially so on the road. They’re coming off an impressive 1-1 draw against Canada in Toronto and earned another point on the road in El Salvador. At home against a struggling US side, they’ll fully expect to take all three points, a result which would push them as high as second place in the standings.
This is a good Honduras side. They’re a more difficult side to play than El Salvador, and San Pedro Sula is one of the most difficult places to play in Concacaf.
United States 🇺🇸
It’s fair to say the US have disappointed through two games. While a draw in El Salvador isn’t the worst result, drawing at home with Canada has them in a precarious position.
They struggled against El Salvador’s high press, and had no ideas for how to break down Canada’s low block. The midfield especially couldn’t find consistent entry passes, and instead opted to rotate the ball around the back and whip in crosses.
Against Honduras, head coach Gregg Berhalter may opt to bring back the back three that worked so well at the Gold Cup. John Brooks is a great distributor out of the back, but he’s struggled on the road in Concacaf and was largely responsible for Canada’s goal.
Bringing in a reliable defender in Walker Zimmerman and a solid distributor out of the back in James Sands could alleviate some of the issues in possession and give Tyler Adams more freedom going forward. It would also give Anthony Robinson and DeAndre Yedlin more of a dedicated role in the attack.
Up front, Brendan Aaronson has been one of the better performers from the three games. While it’s difficult to drop him after performances like his showing against Canada, he’s played a ton of minutes in a short time. It may be worth bringing in a reliable, proven Concacaf player like Christian Roldan to give him a rest and letting him come off the bench against tired legs.
Tonight isn’t a must win for the US, with 11 more matches left to qualify. But if it’s not quite must win, it’s getting really close. Berhalter’s side needs a point from this match at a minimum. A win would go a long way towards answering some of the questions raised this window.
Date: Wednesday, September 8
Teams: Honduras (63 FIFA World Rankings) vs United States (10 FIFA World Rankings)
Time: 9:30 PM central
Location: Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano, San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Broadcast: Paramount+ / Telemundo