[USA-HONDURAS]The USA has come a long way since it slumped to a 2-1 loss to Honduras in the heat of San Pedro Sula in early February. It went unbeaten in its next five games in World Cup 2014 qualifying to open a six-point lead on the fourth-place Catrachos, and it's run off nine straight wins and counting -- a national team record. The current group that Jurgen Klinsmann assembled for the Gold Cup has scored 22 goals in five games -- another program record -- and did it without any starter from the February loss.
The U.S. performance in San Pedro Sula was the worst of several ugly performances in the current World Cup qualifying cycle, but Klinsmann said the loss was not a turning point for the program.
“There was no turning point,” Klinsmann said on Tuesday. “We lost a game that we deserved to lose because we couldn’t adjust to the conditions in Honduras in the beginning of February within the 48 hours with the European players flying into San Pedro Sula. It was just not possible.”
Tuesday's match marks the return of Omar Gonzalez -- a Dallas product -- to the national team after being called up for the knockout phase of the Gold Cup. (He remained with the LA Galaxy for Saturday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.)
Gonzalez is the U.S. player who started in the 2-1 loss to Honduras and is with the national team for the Gold Cup. All the other players are back in Europe preparing for their new seasons. (Only two Honduran starters are at the Gold Cup: defender Juan Carlos Garcia and midfielder Mario Martinez.)
The San Pedro Sula game was Gonzalez's first qualifier, and he was implicated, so to speak, in both Catracho goals. The Galaxy defender says the USA is on an upward trend for which he credits Klinsmann.
“We’ve been getting better and better," he said. "These things don’t happen overnight."
TRIVIA.The USA has never lost to Honduras in five meetings at the Gold Cup. Their first match came in the inaugural final in 1991 when the USA prevailed in a shootout after their game ended in a 0-0 tie. It's also won twice in the semifinals by 2-1 margins in 2005 and 2009. Indeed, the USA has never lost to a non-Concacaf team other than Mexico in the knockout phase. Its only other losses came to Colombia (on penalties) in the 2000 quarterfinals and to Brazil in the 1996 and 2003 semifinals.