Tuesday, February 5, 2013

USMNT vs Honduras Preview

The U.S. Men's National Team is less than 24 hours away from starting "The Hex," the final round of World Cup Qualifying in its region. The six-team, round-robin format will run over the next several months, with the top three teams qualifying for the 2014 World Cup and the fourth-place team advancing to take on a team from the Oceania region in a home-and-home playoff for a fourth slot. 

First up for the USMNT in Hex play is Honduras, with the match taking place in San Pedro Sula...which the Washington Post recently dubbed "the world's most violent place." The match is a very big deal in Central America, with the Honduran government declaring it a "National Holiday" so people can get off work early and cheer on "La Catrachos."

Honduras is considered a leading contender for one of the 2014 World Cup berths. They qualified for the world's greatest tournament twice, including 2010. Many of its starters play in Major League Soccer, so there will be some familiarity on the pitch tomorrow between players from both squads.

The all-time record between these two CONCACAF rivals is 12 wins for the US, four wins for Honduras, and three draws. The US has outscored Honduras by a 33-20 goal margin. In the most recent FIFA World Rankings (January 17, 2013), Honduras was ranked 59th, while the US was 28th.

This should be a very interesting matchup, with Honduras wanting to get off to a good start in front of what should be a raucous crowd, while the US would probably be content with a draw in a tough road environment. If a team can win most of its home matches and draw a few on the road in The Hex, a World Cup berth is theirs.

As is most often the case, I will be at Mavis Winkles Irish Pub in Independence, Ohio, with the American Outlaws Cleveland Chapter to cheer on the stars and stripes. If you are in the area, please come by and join us. GO USA!

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