Honduras was always bound to come to the United States bent on making things hard for the hosts, the ol’ CONCACAF hunker and bunker and hope to grab something on the counter. A tie will almost always suffice in World Cup qualifiers here, as the United States has proven nearly unbeatable on U.S. soil for a decade now.
But the injury and attrition news out of the Honduran camp is devastating, and won’t make the Central American side feel any better about its chances ahead Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City.
So, which is the biggest loss?
As Kyle Bonn told you yesterday in the PST piece linked above, Maynor Figueroa’s absence is hardly a surprise. They’ve been dealing with it already.
But Victor Bernardez’s loss (due to yellow card suspension) is devastating. Bernardez (pictured) may be the best center back in CONCACF final round qualifying. And he would have been the perfect man to help the visitors deal with U.S. striker Jozy Altidore, who has confidence just falling out of his pockets as he walks around right now.
Bernardez was a massive part of the picture last year for San Jose as the Earthquakes captured Major League Soccer’s Supporters Shield for the top regular season record.
Oscar Boniek Garcia will certainly be a huge loss, too. Garcia, who prowls the right side effectively for the Houston Dynamo, tore up the United States defense when the teams met earlier this year.
Garcia is a fantastic player, technical, diligent and wise – but his loss will be felt slightly less. If this were back in San Pedro Sula, maybe we could call it a draw. But as this trip into the United States was always going to come with extra helpings of defense for the Hondurans, it is Bernardez’s loss that stands as the real crusher.