Sports Mole previews Thursday’s World Cup Qualifying – North Central America clash between Honduras and USA, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The pressure is on for Honduras and the USA, as both teams will be seeking their first victory in the third round of World Cup 2022 qualifying when they play each other on Wednesday from Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro.
Both sides have two draws thus far as they each squandered a one-goal lead to tie Canada, while neither team could put one past El Salvador.
After two matches, Honduras are in the unfamiliar position of having to play catch-up in the Octagonal phase of World Cup qualifying with two points so far as they currently sit in fourth, which would see them advance to the inter-confederation play-offs.
Fabian Coito and his team have rarely been able to keep the ball, with only 34% possession in their opener against Canada and then being held to 30% possession against the only side ranked below them at this stage of qualifying, El Salvador.
Failing to win on the road ended up being their undoing four years ago as they won only one game away from home in the final round of 2018 qualifying, and they were outscored 13-5, and that does not include their 3-1 defeat in the second leg of their play-off with Australia, which could have clinched their place in Russia.
If there is some good news for this side at the moment, it is the fact that they have been able to earn results in consecutive games on the road, something that they have not done since 2019.
It has been almost two years since they have played inside of their home stadium, but this team should be very comfortable at Olimpico Metropolitano, where they have not lost since November 2016 and have not conceded a goal since defeating Mexico 3-2 in a qualifying fixture in October 2017.
They may not have had a lot of success versus the Americans, going winless in their last seven encounters with them, but they did put together a positive result against them in their previous home fixture, coming from behind to beat them 2-1 in 2013.
The Hondurans were sloppy defensively in several matches in their 2018 qualifying campaign, conceding 19 goals, including six in one match to the US, so it is encouraging to see them looking a lot sharper at the back lately after being exposed numerous times at the Gold Cup.
While they are off to a better start than they were four years ago at the final qualifying stage, Gregg Berhalter did not expect to see his side in fifth place and winless after two matches.
Coming into this game unbeaten in their last 11 competitive fixtures would typically be pretty impressive, but when you are the reigning Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League champions, you cannot be satisfied with your last two results.
Over the weekend, this young American team had the bulk of the possession (72%) and many chances, but they looked vulnerable out wide and struggled to contain the speed of the Canadians, particularly Alphonso Davies.
At the very least, they looked a lot livelier and were able to get into some more dangerous positions than they had in their opener versus La Selecta, who seemed to stifle the US with their 4-3-1-2 formation.
As we get deeper and deeper into this round of qualifying, the pressure on this team will continue to mount, so it will be interesting to see how they can cope.
In their last seven meetings with the Hondurans, they have outscored them by a margin of 15-5, so they should not be short on confidence heading into a challenging environment in San Pedro.
It may only be their third game of the qualifying round, but they do not want to have to dig themselves a hole too early and have to rely on other results to make it back to the World Cup finals.
Honduras World Cup Qualifying – North Central America form:
Honduras form (all competitions):
USA World Cup Qualifying – North Central America form:
USA form (all competitions):
Alexander Lopez is questionable for Honduras after landing awkwardly on his heel following his penalty kick goal against Canada in their opening game as CF Montreal striker Romell Quioto replaced him in the starting 11 versus El Salvador, playing alongside Anthony Lozano.
The back four of Danilo Acosta, Johnny Leveron, Jose Garcia and Felix Crisanto looked solid on Sunday, allowing only one shot on target as goalkeeper Luis Lopez collected his first clean sheet since their opening match of the Gold Cup.
Rigoberto Rivas has started both matches at this stage for Honduras but is still seeking his first international goal, while Boniek Garcia could surpass Noel Valladares and Armado Guevara for third and second place in all-time appearances at the end of this qualifying round, as the Houston Dynamo midfielder currently has 132 international caps for his country, putting him three behind Valladares and six back of Guevara.
Berhalter made six changes to the starting 11 in their match against Canada from their opener with El Salvador, with Kellyn Acosta, John Brooks, Sebastian Lletget, Jordan Siebatcheu, Christian Pulisic and Antonee Robinson all drawing into the lineup.
Matt Turner conceded only his second goal in nine appearances for the national team on Sunday, while Man City back-up keeper Zack Steffen has tested positive for COVID-19, so New York City FC starter Sean Johnson has been called up to take his place.
Honduras possible starting lineup:
Lopez; Acosta, Leveron, J. Garcia, Crisanto; Moya, Pineda, B. Garcia, Rivas; Quioto, Lozano
USA possible starting lineup:
Turner; Sands, Zimmerman, Brooks, Robinson; Roldan, Lletget, De le Fuente; Aaronson, Pepi, Pulisic
We say: Honduras 1-2 USA
Neither side expected to be outside of the qualifying race this early, so we should see a lot of desperation on both sides.
The difference could come down to depth, and the Americans have a lot more options than Honduras in attack, as well as players who can step up and produce a moment of magic.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data
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