The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will take on Honduras in the Final of the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship on Sunday, March 5 at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose. The match will determine the 21st outright CONCACAF tournament winner since 1962, when Mexico won took home the inaugural hardware against Guatemala. Both Honduras and the U.S., along Mexico and Costa Rica, have qualified for the 2017 U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic. Sunday’s game can be seen live at 4 p.m. ET on Univision Deportes Network or via livestream on the official CONCACAF Facebook page.
Here are five things you should know about the USA’s championship match opponent:
A total of 18 players on the Honduras roster play domestically, with historic league power Olimpia placing five players on the squad, while Motagua and Real Espańa have two each.
One player, midfielder Darixon Vuelto, plays outside Honduras with Spanish Segunda División club CD Tenerife.
Take a look at the full roster:
Goalkeepers (2): Javier Delgado (CD Honduras Progreso/HON), Michael Perello (CD Marathon/HON)
Defenders (7): Dylan Andrade (Platense FC/HON), Wesly Decas (Pumas/HON), Jose García (CD Victoria/HON), Kenneth Hernández (CD Victoria/HON), Denil Maldonado (CD Motagua/HON), Jalex Sánchez (Real CD España/HON), Riky Zapata (CD Real Sociedad/HON)
Midfielders (8): Jorge Álvarez (CD Olimpia/HON), Sendel Cruz (Juticalpa FC/HON), Rembrandt Flores (CD Olimpia/HON), Foslyn Grant (CD Motagua/HON), Carlos Pineda (CD Olimpia/HON), Jose Quiroz (Real CD España/HON), Jose Reyes (CD Olimpia/HON), Darixon Vuelto (CD Tenerife/ESP)
Forwards (3): Douglas Martínez (CSD Vida/HON), Jose Pinto (CD Olimpia/HON), Byron Rodriguez (Parrillas One/HON)
2016 UNCAF Champions
Honduras began its ramp up to the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in July of 2016 during La Eliminatoria Sub-20 de Centroamérica. Held from July 8-16 in Panama, the Central American Football Union’s (UNCAF) qualifying tournament featured five teams after Costa Rica automatically qualified to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship as the host nation and Belize withdrew.
This left El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama vying for the three spots. In a single round-robin group phase, Honduras finished atop the group with eight points after defeating El Salvador (2-1) and Nicaragua (2-0), and drawing against Guatemala (2-2) and Panama (1-1). Midfielder Sendel Cruz was the only player to rack up multiple goals in the tournament, with two.
CONCACAF U-20 Championship performance
Honduras enters the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final with the same overall record as the United States, winning four games and losing one (4-1-0). Los Catrachos’ only loss came in their Group A finale, when they fell 1-0 to Mexico after defeating Canada 1-0 and Antigua and Barbuda 4-1.
In its first Classification Stage game against Panama, Honduras got off to a blazing start. In the sixth minute, Douglas Martínez slotted the ball past Panama’s left back, giving midfielder Darixon Vuelto enough space to cut inside and use his dominant left foot to send a rocket to the upper right corner. Seventy-five minutes later, Los Catrachos would seal their three points on a well-hit strike from midfielder Jorge Álvarez.
Honduras’ second Classification Stage clash against host nation Costa Rica would prove to be slightly more challenging. After conceding a goal in the 47th minute, Honduras quickly gathered themselves and retaliated two minutes later off the head of defender Denil Maldonado. In the 70th minute, Honduras found the winner thanks to another header from midfielder Foslyn Grant. The second successfully converted corner kick of the game would punch Honduras’ ticket to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final and U-20 World Cup.
Honduras U-20 History
Since 1962, Honduras has participated in 18 of the possible 26 CONCACAF U-20 tournaments, including 2017. Although they were originally crowned as Champions of the 1982 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament, after a 1-0 victory against the United States, the CONCACAF title and World Cup berth was taken away shortly thereafter when the team was disqualified for using overage players. Honduras was considered tournament champions in 1994 when it finished atop the final group stage, which sent the top two teams to the 1995 FIFA World Youth Championship in Qatar. Los Catrachos were also runners up at the 1964 and 1976 CONCACAF tournaments.
Of the 17 CONCACAF U-20 tournaments Honduras has participated in prior to 2017, Los Catrachos have posted a 51-18-13 record and punched tickets to the FIFA U-20 World Cup six times: 1977, 1995, 1999, 2005, 2009 and 2015. Although a Honduras team has never made it out of the group stage during those six World Cup opportunities, it came closest to advancing out of its group at the 1977 FIFA World Youth Championship in Tunisia when the team finished second to Uruguay.
Hondurans in M.L.S.
There is a long history of Honduran internationals playing a significant role in M.L.S. clubs, and this year is no different. A total of seven Hondurans national team players are in the league this year, including four who were part of the 2014 FIFA World Cup squad: Víctor Bernárdez (San Jose Earthquakes), Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City), Maynor Figueroa (FC Dallas), and Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo).