USA-Honduras, Presented by Volpi Foods, promises to be a crucial test in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s bid to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Before the match in San Jose kicks off, learn more about the MNT’s opponent and the football structure around them in Honduras.
One of the more successful nations in Central American football, Honduras has long been a thorn in the side of fellow CONCACAF nations. Having first qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 1982, Los Catrachos have risen towards the top of the region in recent years with their qualification to the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.
2017 Copa Centroamericana Champions
As the U.S. Men’s National Team was taking part in January Camp, Honduras spent the early part of 2017 dominating UNCAF’s qualifying tournament for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. Los Catrachos went 4-0-1 at January’s Copa Centroamericana in Panama, earning wins against the hosts, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Belize, while drawing Costa Rica on the way to their fourth tournament title.
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By virtue of winning Copa Centroamericana, Honduras was named as the seeded team in Group A of July’s Gold Cup where they will take on Costa Rica, French Guiana and Canada.
The League Scene
While about half the Honduras roster is based outside the country, the other half plays domestically in the Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional, which began in its current form in 1965.
During the league’s 62-year existence, Tegucigalpa-based club Olimpia have been the most dominant club, winning 30 league titles and finishing as runners-up an additional 14 times. Also based in the Honduran capital, current league champions Motagua have collected 14 league crowns and 11 runners-up finishes.
Two clubs based in San Pedro Sula have also found success: Real España has gathered 11 league titles, while Maratón has won eight.
Four other clubs have combined for six league championships: Platense and Vida (two each) and Platense and Honduras Progreso (one each).
A History with the United States
The USA’s history with Honduras is one of the most interesting of any of the MNT’s regular CONCACAF opponents. The MNT actually won its first away World Cup Qualifier in Central America in Honduras, defeating Los Catrachos 1-0 on March 17, 1965 in San Pedro Sula. That win was the first of three U.S. victories away to Honduras in qualifying, with the MNT also earning a 2-1 result on March 28, 2001 and 3-2 win on Oct. 10, 2009 -- a victory that also clinched the USA’s berth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
While the MNT’s three away World Cup Qualifying wins in Honduras are the most in any Central American country, Honduras has also handed the U.S. a few stinging results. Los Catrachos responded to the MNT’s 2001 win in San Pedro Sula with a wild 3-2 victory later that round in Washington, D.C., ending the team’s 15-year home unbeaten streak in World Cup Qualifying. They also outlasted a tired U.S. team to earn a 2-1 victory in San Pedro Sula in the opening match of the Final Round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
While the U.S. holds a decisive 15-4-4 all-time record and 5-2-1 advantage in qualifying, Honduras has proven to be a handful for CONCACAF nations throughout the years and Friday’s match is unlikely to be any different.
Honduras in M.L.S.
There is a long history of Honduran internationals playing a significant role in M.L.S. clubs. Seven years after his international retirement, 2004 M.L.S. MVP and Golden Boot winner Amado Guevara remains Honduras’ leader in caps, while the country’s all-time leading scorer, Carlos Pavon, also featured for the LA Galaxy in 2007.
Current Anderlecht midfielder Andy Najar got his start as a Homegrown signing with D.C. United, while a total of seven current national team players are in the league this year, including four who were part of the 2014 FIFA World Cup squad: Víctor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes), Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City), Maynor Figueroa (FC Dallas), and Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo).