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USA vs. Honduras, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What to watch for

3 point are vital.

El Salvador v USMNT Photo by John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team has a vital game coming up tomorrow when they host Honduras at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota. The USMNT, coming off a loss to Canada Sunday in Hamilton, need a win to continue to remain in 2nd place in the Octagonal standings and inch ever closer to a World Cup spot. If they fail to get maximum points, they could end up in 3rd place in the table but in a very dangerous position.

Octagonal Standings 1/31/2022

Standing in their way is Honduras, a team who is in turmoil. They can only play spoiler now as they are officially eliminated from World Cup contention. They haven’t won since the Gold Cup group stage last summer. Since a 3-2 victory against Panama on July 17th, they’ve drawn 3 matches and lost 10, including their current losing streak of 7 straight.

Still, the USMNT need to approach this as a must-win match to get back on track and set themselves up for an important March window.

Latest Form

USA

L (0-2) - Canada - World Cup Qualifying

W (1-0) - El Salvador - World Cup Qualifying

W (1-0) - Bosnia & Herzegovina - Friendly

D (1-1) - Jamaica - World Cup Qualifying

W (2-0) - Mexico - World Cup Qualifying

Honduras

L (0-2) - El Salvador - World Cup Qualifying

L (0-2) - Canada - World Cup Qualifying

L (1-2) - Colombia - Friendly

L (1-2) - Costa Rica - World Cup Qualifying

L (2-3) - Panama - World Cup Qualifying

What To Watch For

Energy, energy, energy. It will be bitterly cold in St. Paul, with the temperature at kickoff hopefully above 0 degrees...hopefully. It will be the coldest match the USMNT has ever had, so the energy needs to be there not just to stay warm, but to generate scoring chances against Honduras.

Crisp finishing is a must. Honduras is not going to make it easy for the USMNT, but inside the 18, the Americans have to be better at putting shots on goal. They don’t have to look for the spectacular. It doesn’t matter how the ball goes in the net, but to win you have to put it in the net.

Better crosses give us a chance. Against Canada, the crosses into the box were not great. If you’re going to play that style of soccer, with scoring opportunities originating from the wings, then they need to get the ball up and into the box so that there’s a chance to get it. And guys need to crash the net. Too often, even if a ball gets crossed into the box, there isn’t anyone there to receive it. If players are going to creep up towards goal, they need to crash the net and try to put a head or foot on the ball.

Lineup Prediction

There may be some more shifting due to knocks picked up as well as guys returning to action, but with it being the last match of the window, here’s what Gregg Berhalter will likely present as his starting XI:

Matt Turner makes it 3 starts in a row at goalkeeper with Zack Steffen not ready to go, and the back line sees Mark McKenzie pair alongside Miles Robinson in the middle, with Chris Richards out and Walker Zimmerman also nursing hamstring tightness. Antonee Robinson and Sergiño Dest are your fullbacks.

In the middle, Tyler Adams is out after picking up an injury, so Kellyn Acosta gets the start. Weston McKennie gets another start, as he has been the best player so far in the two matches. Luca de la Torre gets a chance in the middle as well to help be the bridge between the offense and defense.

Up front, Christian Pulisic continues to get the nod at left wing, with Tim Weah back in the lineup at right wing. In the middle, finally Ricardo Pepi gets the start at the 9 to hopefully recreate the magic he had down in San Pedro Sula last September.

Prediction

The USMNT is heavily favored in this game, and they should be. Honduras is 13/1 underdogs according to DraftKings, which means the United States should be all over Honduras in this match. Still, the bitter cold makes things a bit more even. The USMNT get the 3 points with another 2-0 victory that’s tighter than it should be.