World Cup Qualifying: X-Factors for US National Team in Crucial Honduras Match

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJune 18, 2013

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 11:  Jozy Altidore #17 of USA follows the play against Panama during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier at CenturyLink Field on June 11, 2013 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The U.S. men's national team have been on a surge as of late through their World Cup qualifiers, but they'll face a familiar and pesky foe in Honduras on Tuesday night.

While the Americans lead the CONCACAF standings with 10 points through five games, they'll be put in a tough position should they struggle in the match. However, a win would go a long way toward ensuring the side's qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. 

The Hondurans took down the U.S. back in February with a 2-1 victory on their home soil, but the home-field advantage will be reversed this time around as the two teams face off in Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah. 

Let's take a look at the biggest X-factors who the USMNT need to step up during their World Cup qualifying tilt with Honduras. 


Brad Evans

Even before ripping this unexpected gem that won the Americans' recent tilt with Jamaica in extra time, Brad Evans' playing level was through the roof and it continues to soar.

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made the bold move of pushing the former midfielder to an unfamiliar position at right-back, and it's paid dividends. Evans has been a constant factor in the Americans' shored-up back line.

Klinsmann told Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times that Evans has been showing great form as of late in his switch.  Per Baxter's report, Klinsmann said "Now that Brad Evans is playing that role very, very strongly, he made a very strong case for himself going toward the World Cup in Brazil."

The 28-year-old has had his moments with the USMNT, some brighter than others. But he's enjoying one of the best stretches of his international career, and it continuing on Tuesday night would do wonders for the Americans' chances.


Jozy Altidore

The U.S. go as Jozy Altidore goes, and that's the biggest reason why they've been able to have success as of late in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

The American striker has been scoring goals at will, despite changes being made to his supporting midfield by Klinsmann in virtually every contest.

With so many question marks surrounding the best starting lineup for the USMNT, it's imperative that Altidore learns how to have success even if he doesn't know who will be lining up next to him. And recently, he's proven that with prowess and domination in manufacturing goals.

The Americans need Altidore to play with anger, energy and strength in order to have success, and that is just what the 23-year-old has been doing.


Jermaine Jones

It's unclear as of yet whether Jermaine Jones will return from injury after experiencing concussion-like symptoms after the team's 2-0 win vs. Panama, but Klinsmann hinted at it to just prior to the team's battle with Honduras. 

With DaMarcus Beasley out after picking up excessive yellow cards, the Americans could surely use Jones' attacking ability and strength on the pitch. Against a Honduras team that is always dangerous but tends to leave opportunities out there for the opponent, Jones could turn into a hero again.

The 31-year-old is one of the leaders on the USMNT, and his presence is felt positively on the pitch no matter how he's performing. He makes his teammates better and allows more comfort for the youngsters.

If Jones is able to start Tuesday's match, it will give the Americans a huge leg up, and Honduras will have their hands full.