The United States men’s national team can achieve two firsts with a pair of wins in the next week by becoming the only winner of the CONCACAF Nations League while giving Gregg Berhalter his first trophy as USMNT boss.
In order to do so the Yanks will have to first beat Honduras, something that proved difficult for the Olympic qualifying team but should not worry the U.S. that much barring a red card or series of early injuries.
This is not your father’s Honduras national team, which has played just four matches since the start of 2020 and not won once. Yes, 38-year-old Maynor Figueroa is still captaining the side and there’s threat in Alberth Elis, Boniek Garcia, and Anthony Lozano, but to imagine Los Catrachos beating the U.S. is to watch the perceived lack of heart from Olympic qualifying infiltrate a senior national team full of European-based stars.
Yes, the USMNT lost 2-1 to Switzerland (Three things learned) in its biggest test of the last three years in terms of opposition quality, but to shake your head at that result is to drastically overlook the Swiss in terms of system consistency and talent. In terms of Elo Ratings, an imperfect but favorable alternative to FIFA’s flawed rankings, No. 15 Switzerland compares to the No. 30 U.S. and No. 57 Honduras. In terms of the differences between the three, the Swiss advantage over the U.S. is smaller than the Yanks’ advantage over Honduras.
So, yes, the U.S. needs answers at center back next to John Brooks and must sort out its best option at center forward, but also hung tough with the Swiss in St. Gallen on a day the two sides were even in shots, shots on target, and passing percentage.
How will the USMNT lineup versus Honduras?
Berhalter has already said that Christian Pulisic will be back in the Starting XI and the removals of John Brooks, Sebastian Lletget, and Jackson Yueill just after the hour mark in Switzerland say something about the coach’s preferences with two more matches this week.
He’d love to again take out Brooks after 60 minutes if the Honduras match is well-in-hand — or maybe he’s willing to bet the Yanks can handle Los Catrachos without taking the Wolfsburg man at all. Really, there’s also little reason to read into Sunday’s lineup when the players are still used to the scheduled congestion of the seasons that just finished within the last week or two (excepting MLS-based players Lletget, Yueill, Kellyn Acosta, and David Ochoa).
Is Tyler Adams recovered from his back injury and ready to feature? If not, what does that mean for the No. 6 position, given that Weston McKennie played 90 against the Swiss?
So let’s take a look at how Pulisic and his “inspirational” countrymen could line up against Honduras.
Dest — McKenzie — Miazga — Robinson
Adams — McKennie
Pulisic — Lletget — Reyna