Honduras vs. United States: Key Battles to Watch in World Cup Qualifier

Mikhail Turner@MikhailTurnerContributor IIIFebruary 5, 2013

Honduras vs. United States: Key Battles to Watch in World Cup Qualifier

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    The final stage for 2014 World Cup qualifiers starts on Wednesday for Honduras and the USA.

    Bleacher Report is taking a look at some key battles for this important opening fixture for either side.

    Honduras is the host team and will make it a tough battle for the favoured U.S. side.

    The last time these teams met in Honduras it was the USA who came out on top with a narrow 3-2 victory. 

    Here are some key battles to watch for this World Cup qualifier.

    *Unless otherwise stated, all statistics courtesy of ESPN Soccernet.

Carlos Bocanegra vs. Jerry Bengtson

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    United States captain Carlos Bocanegra will be faced with a tough task on Wednesday.

    Bocanegra will be looking to marshal a defense lacking in international experience and keep track of Honduras' main threat up front.

    Jerry Bengtson will provide a challenge in all aspects of his play with his work-rate and a physical frame that gives him the advantage in the air.

    Bengtson has an eye for goal despite having rarely registered a goal for the New England Revolution during his debut season in 2012.

    His strike against Spain in the Olympics and a hat-trick for Honduras when they drubbed Canada attest to that.

    Bengtson could prove a handful for the American defense in what will be a keenly contested game.

Michael Bradley vs. Roger Espinoza

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    Michael Bradley has been a constant selection for his new side Roma and has done a decent job for the club.

    Bradley will be expected to control the midfield for the U.S. with his passing skills. If he can do that effectively, his side will have every chance of getting a positive result.

    The person most likely to be tasked with stopping the American midfielder is Wigan Athletic's new signing, Roger Espinoza.

    Espinoza is full of energy and is strong in the tackle.

    If he's able to put Bradley off his game and Honduras' creative midfielders take control, it will be a tough game for the U.S.

Clint Dempsey vs. Maynor Figueroa

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    Clint Dempsey and Maynor Figueroa know each other well from their time in the Premier League.

    Dempsey has had a bit of an up-and-down season in 2012/13 but has still chipped in with eight goals and five assists for his new side.

    The other forwards on the U.S. roster all provide their challenges, but it's Dempsey's creativity and skill that set him apart.

    Figueroa is an integral part of the Honduras defense and his knowledge of Dempsey will certainly prove helpful for his side.

    The two are likely to be one-on-one a few times, and whoever is the better on the day will likely play a major part in a positive result for his side.

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