The U.S. Men's National Team starts a tough test in the final round of 2014 World Cup qualifying against Honduras. In a harsh environment, the U.S. need to come up with a statement win to get their qualifying off to a good start.
While this roster is more talented than when the U.S. played Canada about a week ago, the team showed a lack of interest and focus that is concerning. Even with a weaker roster, the US needs to win those types of matches to encourage a new attitude in the U.S. camp.
They can't afford a lackluster performance in their first game in the Hex. They need to come out, get a result and start preparing for Costa Rica at home.
The U.S. have a tough fixture list to start the round. After playing away at Honduras and home against Costa Rica on Mar. 22, they travel to Mexico on Mar. 26 and to Jamaica on June 7.
While a loss wouldn't be the end of the world with nine matches left to play in the round, the U.S. can't afford to drop points with the intention of making them up later. They don't want to go into the future matches needing points.
With four of the last six matches at home, the U.S. would benefit tremendously from getting a fast start and not having to worry about getting full points from those matches.
The team will also be playing without Landon Donovan, who has been a lifeline for the national team. While his level of play has dropped off slightly, he's rescued the Americans with his strong performances more than a couple times. They need to move on without Donovan and prepare for the possibility of him not joining for future qualifiers.
While a draw playing away would usually be a decent result, the U.S. need to get a victory to continue building the culture that Jurgen Klinsmann intends to build. Too often, the U.S. have played down to opponents or played uninspired football.
If the goal is to be the best team in the region and compete in the 2014 World Cup, the U.S. need to stamp that down with a statement win in a hostile environment. The U.S. have a big chance to set the tone for the rest of qualifying and into the World Cup. Whether they take the opportunity or not will be seen tomorrow.