The United States Men's National Team is set to take on Honduras tonight for the 2nd time in the World Cup Qualifying hexagonal stage. Last time the two sides met, Honduras had the last laugh as enigmatic New England Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson netted the game-winner to see the U.S. start off the hex on entirely the wrong foot.
Since that game, however, the stars and stripes have put together three wins and a draw against Mexico. Most recently, the U.S. have strung together two particularly impressive wins against Jamaica and Panama, which have helped them to the top of the Hexagonal standings with 10 points in total--2 points clear of Mexico and Costa Rica.
Jurgen Klinsmann is expected to make some slight changes to his side that took the field against Panama last week. Most notably, Graham Zusi is expected re-take his spot on the right side of the midfield, most likely sending Eddie Johnson back down to the bench. In central midfield, Jermaine Jones has been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion again Jamaica. He will likely step in and partner with Michael Bradley, despite Geoff Cameron putting together a nice showing in that spot last week in Seattle. Klinsmann also called Kyle Beckerman into camp this past week as insurance, but he will not likely feature in the starting XI if Jones is good to go.
At left-back, Damarcus Beasley will be unavailable due to card accumulation. Most seem to anticipate Tijuana defender Edgar Castillo to slot into the backline in Beasley's spot, however Klinsmann could choose to slide Fabian Johnson back into defense and put someone like Eddie Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, or Brad Davis at left-mid. I believe the former scenario is more likely.
For Honduras, they will be fielding a side absolutely demolished by injuries and absences. As SB Nation's Stars And Stripes FC points out, the Catrachos could be without Victor Bernardez, Maynor Figueroa, Luis Garrido, Oscar Boniek Garcia, Emilio Izaguirre, and of course the disgruntled Jerry Bengtson. The full 3-points are there for the taking tonight for the United States if they can keep their momentum going. With a win, the U.S. will have all but punched their ticket to Brazil next summer.
Here's some other previews from around the internet for your lunchtime reading enjoyment:
ESPN FC - ‘United States Surge Clear'
MLSSoccer.com - USMNT vs. Honduras | World Cup Qualifying Match Preview
American Soccer Now -‘United States vs. Honduras: 10 Quick Predictions'
Stars And Stripes FC -‘Jermaine Jones expected to play'
The Shin Guardian - ‘Assault Lake City: TSG's Official USA vs. Honduras Preview'
Soccer By Ives - ‘USMNT vs. Honduras: A Look Ahead'