The U.S. begins the CONCACAF Hex today in a 4pm match against Honduras. This is being televised on beIN Sport USA. We looked ahead at some concerns for the USMNT yesterday.
[UPDATE: Final – Honduras 2, USA 1. After the USA grabbed a 1-0 lead, Honduras equalized on this bicycle kick. Honduras scored the game-winner in the 79th minute when again, the USA defense got caught ball-watching.]
Enemy History: Honduras won Group C in the third round of qualifying with 11 points, edging Panama on goal difference. They outscored opponents 12-3, though much of that was an 8-1 win over Canada. The U.S. has a 12-3-3 record all time against Honduras. A 3-2 away win there during the last cycle qualified them for the 2010 World Cup.
Enemy Rankings: [FIFA (59), Elo (40), SPI (39)]
Not the Favorite: The United States is an underdog, to a team that is not Mexico. SPI projections give Honduras a 54.8 percent chance for a win. The U.S. is just 19.8 percent. A draw would be a quite decent result.
Squad: Klinsmann is going with a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, depending on how you group it…
D: Chandler – Cameron – Gonzalez – F. Johnson
M: Williams – Jones – Bradley
F: E. Johnson – Altidore – Dempsey
This is a bold lineup choice. He has given Omar Gonzalez his competitive debut ahead of Carlos Bocanegra, in a tough away match. If they can play together, that may be the ideal back four pairing with the two German-American fullbacks. It would be a comprehensive overhaul.
Jozy Altidore gets the start up front over Herculez Gomez. Altidore is the more talented player. The question has been whether he can fit within Klinsmann’s system and replicate Gomez’ work rate.
Klinsmann also opted for a speedy, direct attacker in Eddie Johnson ahead of a more deliberate ball player such as Zusi or Torres. That choice, combined with the overlapping fullbacks, suggest Klinsmann believes the U.S. can hit Honduras down the wings.
Prediction: USA 1-1 Honduras
[Photo via USA Today Sports]