Scouting Report: Arena breaks down Honduras

There has been no Hexagonal match in which three points are more vital for the USA than the game against Honduras on March 24 in San Jose.

And perhaps the USA will never be more familiar with an opponent than the Catrachos, who could start a front six of current and former MLS players.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena assessed the Catrachos last week.

“From what I’ve seen is that they’re a very strong team," said Arena after the Concacaf event for the Gold Cup. "They have good attacking players, very solid defensively -- at times they play with five at the back -- and will make it difficult on us."

Honduras is just as in need for points as the USA, having opened the Hexagonal with a 1-0 loss at home to Panama. Its 3-1 win over Trinidad & Tobago left it with a split at the Estadio Olimpico in  San Pedro Sula, where it was the only team to open with two home games.

"I would think they’ll have a road mentality," Arena added, "because they’re sitting there with three points and they’d like to steal a point on the road, so they’ll come in here and be pretty conservative and counterattack with the kind of speed they have going forward. It’s going to be challenging for us.”

Arena was referring to 21-year-old Alberth Elis and 25-year-old Romell Quioto, who have both impressed in the first two weeks in MLS for the Houston Dynamo, which is off to a 2-0-0 start. Quioto scored in both wins, while Elis scored his first MLS goal in the 3-1 win over Columbus on Saturday.

"They're two attacking players with a lot of pace," Arena said.

Against T&T, Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto started both Elis and Quioto along with former MLS players Jorge Claros and Mario Martinez and Sporting Kansas City's Roger Espinoza and Oscar Boniek Garcia, the senior member of the Dynamo's Catracho contingent.

"I think they have options how they'll play," Arena said. "They played with Garcia and Espinoza in midfield in a 4-1-4-1 in their last qualifier. Andy Najar is back and healthy. He's an player they can drop in the mix."

Najar, the former MLS Rookie of the Year with D.C. United, missed six months with a knee injury, but has regained his form and was one of the top players as Belgium's Anderlecht overtook Club Brugge for first place in the Jupiler Pro League regular season, which ended on Sunday.

Arena downplayed the idea that playing against a team dominated by players his players knew very well would give the USA an extra advantage.

"We all know what's going on," he laughed. "We'll talk about the player and share opinions on the players. "

Honduras Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Donis Escober (Olimpia), Luis Lopez (Real Espana), Ricardo Canales (Vida).
DEFENDERS (8): Brayan Beckeles (Necaxa/MEX), Henry Figueroa (Motagua), Maynor Figueroa (FC Dallas), Felix Crisianto (Motagua), Allans Vargas (Real Espana), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic/SCO), Ever Alvarado (Olimpia), Cesar Oseguera (Real Espana)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Jorge Claros (Real Espana), Oliver Morazan (Juticalpa), Brayan Acosta (Real Espana), Roger Espinoza (Sporting KC), Erick Andino (Motagua), Mario Martinez (Enppi/EGY), Carlos Disuca (Motagua), Andy Najar (Anderlecht/BEL), Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo), Romell Quioto (Houston Dynamo).
FORWARDS (5): Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo), Anthony Lozano (Tenerife/ESP), Eddie Hernandez (Tolima/COL), Rubilio Castillo (Motagua), Michael Chirinos (Olimpia).

Honduras in 2017:
Jan. 13: 2-1 vs. Nicaragua (Copa Centroamericana)
Jan. 15: 2-1 vs. El Salvador (Copa Centroamericana)
Jan. 17: 1-0 at Panama (Copa Centroamericana)
Jan. 20: 1-1 vs. Costa Rica (Copa Centroamericana)
Jan. 22: 1-0 vs. Belize (Copa Centroamericana)
Feb. 16: 0-1 vs. Jamaica (friendly, in Houston)
Feb. 22: 1-3 at Ecuador (friendly)
March 16: vs. Nicaragua (friendly)

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