For the United States, Tuesday night's matchup against Honduras in Utah is a golden chance to seriously bolster its World Cup qualifying position. Already atop the Hexagonal with 10 points, the U.S. could reach 13 points with just four games remaining and be sitting quite pretty.
For Honduras, the game isn't a must-win—road games in the Hex rarely are—but the team is currently in fourth place after five games, putting them in the playoff position against New Zealand. With Panama just a point behind in fifth, Honduras will at least want to steal a point.
It should be a cracker of a match, folks. Let's break it down.
When: Tuesday, June 18 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
Stream: WatchESPN (where available)
What They're Saying
Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated previews each side's roster ahead of this match, and things aren't looking to good for Honduras:
As for the U.S., Klinsmann now has the luxury of depth, so much so that Geoff Cameron (who was terrific against Panama) may not even start on Tuesday if Jermaine Jones is able to return from his mild concussion. Right midfielder Graham Zusi also comes back after a yellow-card suspension, which means Eddie Johnson might also be dropped from the lineup through no fault of his own. The big lineup question comes at left back, where DaMarcus Beasley is out on yellows and Klinsmann could either insert Edgar Castillo or move Fabian Johnson back from left midfield (with Eddie Johnson slotting in there).
The Hondurans' depth will be tested even more. Tough center back Muma Bernárdez and midfielder Luis Garrido are suspended. Meanwhile, injuries have taken out Maynor Figueroa and (most likely) Óscar Boniek García, and forward Jerry Bengtson left camp after clashing with coach Luis Suárez.
United States Player to Watch: Jozy Altidore
There are a few things the United States absolutely needs to be successful. Its needs Michael Bradley positioned as the lynchpin of the midfield. It needs Clint Dempsey playing the role of creative playmaker. The back line must be playing as a cohesive unit.
And of course, Jozy Altidore must be finding his way unto the score sheet. Right now, that's the case.
The striker has been red-hot for the United States, scoring three goals in the past three games. Not surprisingly, the United States has won all three, two in World Cup qualifying and a friendly against Germany's B-squad.
Altidore is a physical presence in the box and gives the United States wingers a big target to hit on their crosses. If he can keep his scoring streak going and replicate his form from this year's AZ Alkmaar campaign (26 goals in all competitions), the United States will be tough to beat, at least for CONCACAF teams.
Honduras Player to Watch: Roger Espinoza
Honduras may be missing a ton of key players—seriously, this roster is in a state of chaos right now—but Roger Espinoza is still a force to be reckoned with in the midfield and bossed the first meeting between these teams.
The Wigan man—who will reside in a defensive midfielder role—is certainly used to anchoring a team hurting on talent, as his side was relegated this season. He was a key contributor in the team's 1-0 victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup final, however.
Espinoza will be expected to win the ball back for Honduras and feed the ball forward in the attack. He'll have a big task against the United States.
Which team wins?
The United States is playing its best football in some time, while Honduras comes into this game with a watered-down lineup.
Without the Honduran heat to deal with in Utah, the United States should comfortably win this game, remain atop the Hexagonal and all but wrap up a spot in Brazil, winning 2-0.
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