The USMNT plays Honduras at Avaya Stadium on Friday in a crucial qualifier for the USMNT, as they have no points through two games and are in last place. In contrast, Honduras have three points and are in fourth place. The CONCACAF qualifying format consists of all six teams playing a home and away series. The top three teams receive an automatic bid to the 2018 World Cup, while the fourth place team advances to an inter-confederation play-off.
USMNT vs. Honduras: Three Players to Watch
The US doesn’t need to win, but without a victory it would be difficult to make the World Cup. Every player will influence the game, but here are three players that will have the biggest impact on the match.
Bruce Arena indicated Sebastian Lletget will most likely be starting in his first World Cup Qualifier. However, Lletget should have no problem transitioning to this level, as he thrived in the January friendlies. Also, Arena is familiar with him from coaching the LA Galaxy. Lletget will be asked to play either on the wing or as a box to box midfielder. He will have the difficult task of covering for a fullback that isn’t the USMNT’s best. Already this year he has seven tackles, two interceptions, and five clearances, through three games with the Galaxy. If he can contribute five defensive actions and be strong going forward, he will hopefully done enough to put the USMNT in a position to win.
Honduras features several strong attackers, but the most dangerous and well-known player is Andy Najar. Najar spent time in the D.C. United academy and signed as Generation Adidas player with them in 2010. He was sold to Anderlecht in 2013, and still plays there today. While he only made nine league appearances this year, he has thrived in the Europa League. He won Man of the Match once and accrued four key passes. Najar will feature on the right wing, and provide trouble for whoever is at left back. If he is facing DaMarcus Beasley, he can beat him with his pace. If he is facing Jorge Villafana, he can beat him with his skill. The winger ahead of the fullback will need to provide defensive support to shut down Najar.
The last USMNT game Howard played in, he suffered a right abductor injury. He has since returned to the Colorado Rapids for two games. In the two games he played, he made seven saves and conceded three goals. One of the goals was an own goal, that wasn’t his fault. Howard will need to guide a defense missing at least one starter. His veteran leadership will be key to victory. Finally, his distribution will have to be on point to help jump start the attack.