Preview: USA vs. Honduras
The string of friendlies to start the Jurgen Klinsmann era continues on Saturday as the United States take on Honduras in an international friendly at Sun Life Stadium in Miami (5 p.m. CT, FOX Soccer/Univisión).
With an 0-2-1 record since taking over the helm in August, the pressure will be on Klinsmann to deliver against a team the US have traditionally dominated. The Yanks have an 11-3-3 record against Honduras dating back to 1965, but los Catrachos took a 3-1 victory out of the last meeting between the teams at the Home Depot Center on Jan. 23, 2010.
Klinsmann continues to search for the right combination of players, and there will be several new faces in camp for the Red, White and Blue. Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando has earned his first call-up under the new coach, while Oguchi Onyewu – who’s become a mainstay in central defense for Sporting CP – makes his return to the squad after a lengthy absence. Danny Williams of Bundesliga club Hoffenheim acquired his US passport on Sept. 30, and will be looking to earn his first cap.
FCD's Brek Shea will be looking for his sixth cap with the USMNT, while three MLS clubs will be sending two players each to the US camp. But the Yanks will be without star attacker Landon Donovan, who was withdrawn from the squad after picking up an injury in the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Oct. 1. Edson Buddle replaced Donovan on the roster, adding a pure striker who is impressing at his club.
Buddle has five goals in 10 appearances for FC Ingolstadt in Germany’s second division. He’ll likely back up Jozy Altidore, who’s netted seven goals in all competitions for Dutch leaders AZ Alkmaar.
Altidore and Fulham attacker Clint Dempsey are the probable focal points of the US attack. How they combine will be one of the major plotlines of the two games.
The US will need all the firepower those two bring, and more. Since taking over, Klinsmann’s side has mustered one goal in three matches. Getting the offense untracked is job one.
After defeating Venezuela 2-0 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in August, los Catrachos have suffered two straight shutout losses, the most recent a 3-0 shellacking at the hands of Paraguay on Sept. 6.
But Honduras do have their own offensive sizzle, even in the injury-enforced absence of star midfielder Wilson Palacios. Houston Dynamo striker Carlo Costly will report for international duty, and will be joined by fellow MLSers Roger Espinoza and Marvin Chávez.
Despite their recent scoring woes, midfielder Julio César de León of Chinese club Shandong Luneng has bagged three goals against the US, all in the most recent World Cup qualifying cycle. Honduras can also take solace in the US’ record in Miami (3-10-4) and at Sun Life Stadium (0-4-1).
Like the US, Honduras are undergoing a bit of a transition and weeding-out process in the months leading up to World Cup qualifiers. They’re looking for replacements for Amado Guevara and Carlos Pavón, so an experimental attack should be expected.