The United States is set to take on Honduras in 2018 World Cup qualifying tomorrow, and the talk is whether the USMNT will be able to right the ship and climb out of the cellar of the CONCACAF Hexagonal. USMNT coach Bruce Arena will put forth his first lineup for a World Cup qualifier since October 2005 with a simple mission: get the victory and the 3 points. Fans are understandably nervous about what could take place in San Jose Friday night, but remain calm. Here's three reasons why the USMNT will get back on track against Honduras:
1. The team has a sense of urgency
The team knows the score and recognize the history they have to overcome. USMNT captain Michael Bradley understands that these two qualifiers marked "the beginning of our chance to put things right and get ourselves back in a good position." They have a sense of urgency, but they're not looking back at the rough start to the Hex that they experienced in November. They are only looking forward and they know they have to play strong to get max points and jump out of the bottom of the Hex standings. This roster has a mix of youth and experience, speed and possession and, most importantly, everyone on team seems to know their role. That has to fare well for a team that at times last year looked lost on the field and lacked energy and determination.
2. There are several options for speed and creativity in the middle
Honduras is going to put players behind the ball and try to counter with lots of speed in their attack. We got some speed in our midfield too, and while the team must utilize patience in possession, we have several options of players who can give us pace and creativity in the middle and keep Honduras on their heels. Christian Pulisic, Darlington Nagbe, and Kellyn Acosta are players that can go fast and go at defenders with no fear, using their creativity to find an open striker up front or create a scoring chance on their own. Even one of these guys coming on as a substitute will wreak havoc on tired Honduran defenders. Players like Michael Bradley and Sacha Kljestan can provide the possession and the quarterbacking of the attack, but the speed is where we can neutralize Honduras and create more scoring opportunities.
3. Altidore and Dempsey are successful when paired up front
To win the game, we have to put the ball in the back of the net. Hopefully, Bruce Arena will consider starting the successful striking duo of Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore up front. Between them, they have 89 goals for country, 29 in World Cup qualifying. They each have 100 caps and they are experienced with must-win games with the USMNT. More importantly, they play well together and are normally good for a goal each match they're in the lineup. Dempsey may just be coming back from sitting out the last third of 2016 with an irregular heartbeat, but he has been strong thus far in 2017. Jozy also is putting balls in the back of the net early in the season, and with them both on top of their game, how can you not be confident that one or both of them will find the back of the net against the Catrachos?
These upcoming World Cup qualifiers signify a clean slate for the Americans, a chance to put 2016's qualifying woes behind them and start fresh. A victory against Honduras Friday night will do just that. If the USMNT can get the win and the 3 points, fans will have renewed confidence and enthusiasm as the USMNT's march to Russia 2018 continues. Let's do just that.