Capped by an impressive goal by Clint Dempsey — his 53rd international tally — the United States jumped out to a 3-0 halftime lead over Honduras. Sebastian Lletget opened the scoring with a goal in the 5th minute and Michael Bradley gave the USA a 2-0 lead with a left-footed strike from about 22 yards out.
Three Big Storylines:
The United States is last in CONCACAF’s six-team final round of World Cup qualifying, known as the Hex, with zero points from two played after a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 road defeat in Costa Rica. The slow start led to the firing of manager Jurgen Klinsmann and Bruce Arena has taken over the national team for the second time. Honduras has three points from their two played, a 1-0 away loss to Panama and a 3-1 home win over Trinidad and Tobago. The top three teams from the group automatically make it to World Cup Russia 2018, while the fourth place team faces a playoff against the fifth place team in Asian qualifying for one spot.
Injuries have hit the USMNT team hard. Bobby Wood is out with a back problem and it is looking increasingly likely that Jordan Morris might be limited or not available against Honduras forcing Arena to start the USMNT’s second all time leading scorer, Clint Dempsey.
Dempsey made his international debut in 2004 and was a bright spot for Arena in the 2006 World Cup. Outside of the striker line, the fullbacks are particularly hard hit by injuries with DeAndre Yedlin, Eric Lichaj and Fabian Johnson all out due to injury and Timothy Chandler out due to suspension.
Who will partner with Michael Bradley in the midfield and where will Christian Pulisic play? These are questions we are likely going to be asking for the rest of this cycle and it is no difference today. Where Arena decides to deploy the 18 year old Pulisic in their first game together will go a long way to signaling how the USMNT intends to break down what will likely be a deep lying Honduras bunker. Jermaine Jones is suspended for this match, will that give a young in-form young player like Kellyn Acosta his chance in the middle?
From a Sounders Point of View:
Roman Torres captains Panama as they visit a Trinidad and Tobago squad featuring Joevin Jones today. The USA travel to Panama next for a game on Tuesday, so that game will be interesting from both a Sounders point of view and as a preview of what the USMNT has coming up next. Panama have started their campaign strong with a home draw against Mexico and an away win in Honduras netting them four points while T&T have zero points from their two played and are only ahead of the USA on goal differential.
United States: 1-Tim Howard, 2-Jorge Villafaña, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 6-John Brooks, 8-Clint Dempsey, 9-Sebastian Lletget, 10-Christian Pulisic, 15-Darlington Nagbe, 17-Jozy Altidore, 20-Geoff Cameron.
Honduras: Escober; Izaguirre, H. Figueroa, M. Figueroa, Alvarado, Beckeles; Claros, Espinoza; Quioto, Elis, Najar
National TV Listings:
USA v Honduras
Date/Time: Friday, 7:30 PM (kickoff at 7:55 PM)
Location: Avaya Stadium, San Jose, California
TV: Fox Sports 1, UniMas, UDN
Fox Sports 1 will have John Strong on the call with Stu Holden and Landon Donovan in the booth and Jenny Taft on the sidelines. Rob Stone hosts pregame, halftime and postgame coverage alongside Alexi Lalas and Fernando Fiore Live from Avaya Stadium. Fox Sports 1 is planning extensive pregame coverage, going live on the network starting at 6:30 PM.
Trinidad and Tobago v Panama
Date/Time: Friday, 4 PM
Location: Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain, Trinidad
TV: beIN Sports
Streaming: beIN Sports Connect
Mexico v Costa Rica
Date/Time: Friday, 6:50 PM
Location: Azteca Stadium, Mexico City, Mexico
TV: Fox Sports 2 & Univision
This is your Sounder at Heart World Cup Qualifying open gamethread. Watch with us.