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MIKE WOITALLA... Time to attack
August 30th, 2001 12AM
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ItÆs been 19 years since Honduras became the first Central American nation to win a point in the World Cup.

That it did so by tying host Spain, which got a generous penalty kick, in their opener made it all the more impressive. Then Honduras tied Northern Ireland and lost on a late penalty kick to Yugoslavia.

Honduras hasnÆt been back since, but confidence soared at the start of the 2002 campaign.

Hondurans rated the current squad, coached by Æ82 captain Ramon Maradiaga, to be at least as talented as the team of two decades ago.

The Catrachos boasted the most spectacular frontline in the region and the best central defender, Samuel Caballero.

But something odd happened: Honduras struggled at home, losing to the United States and Costa Rica. In between, they beat Mexico in San Pedro Sula. Winning one out of three at home usually spells doom.

Not yet.

Honduras proved strong on the road, tying Costa Rica and Jamaica and hammering Trinidad & Tobago.

What to expect when the Catrachos come Sept. 1 for their must-win game against the United States?

Remember, in July, Maradiaga took half his stars to the Copa America, and Honduras beat Brazil, Bolivia and Uruguay (twice).

Unlike all the previous U.S. visitors, who fought with large shields and penknives, the desperate Catrachos will only carry swords.

How should the Yanks react? The defensive approach will work only if U.S. luck ù itÆs had plenty in three of its four wins ù hasnÆt run out. Going at the Catrachos will rattle them. Their potent offense has struggled most when their defense has been pressured.

If the Americans try to play this game in the Honduran half, we may finally get a U.S. Hexagonal performance memorable for more than just the result.

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