Matt Besler - U.S. MNT - July 26, 2017

U.S. Men’s National Team at Honduras
2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying| CONCACAF Hexagonal
Tuesday, Sept. 5| 4:30 p.m. CT | beIN SPORTS, Universo
Estadio Olimpico | San Pedro Sula, Honduras


A mystifying 2-0 home defeat to Costa Rica has put the U.S. Men's National Team behind the proverbial eight-ball ahead of Tuesday's critical World Cup qualifier against Honduras at the hostile Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula.


Bruce Arena's men entered Friday night with hopes of taking second place in CONCACAF's Hexagonal standings, but Costa Rica capitalized on a pair of mistakes to run out 2-0 winners and all but secure a spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.


With Mexico clinching progression to the World Cup on Friday, the U.S. MNT is now left to battle Honduras and Panama for the third and final automatic berth to Russia 2018. The final three Hexagonal matchdays will decide just which team that will be. Sporting Kansas City defenders Matt Besler and Graham Zusi are along for the ride to San Pedro Sula as the Yanks look to bounce back in a big way.

Do or Die?

The U.S. MNT and Honduras are level on points in the Hexagonal standings, but Arena's side holds the all-important tiebreaker on goal differential. The top three finishers will book their places at the 2018 World Cup, while the fourth-place finisher will meet an Asian country in a two-legged World Cup playoff in November.


Lurking just a point behind the U.S. and Honduras is Panama, which will host bottom-dwellers Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday evening. Consequently, the Americans will approach Tuesday's fixture with extreme urgency to take all three points from a Honduras side that has just one home win in three Hexagonal home games.

Team
PTS
W
L
D
GF
GA
GD
Mexico (Q)
17
5
0
2
10
2
+8
Costa Rica
14
4
1
2
11
4
+7
United States
8
2
3
2
11
10
+1
Honduras
8
2
3
2
8
15
-7
Panama
7
1
4
2
4
5
-1
Trinidad and Tobago
3
1
6
0
4
12
-8

Hexagonal Schedule: Tuesday, Sept. 5

  • 4:30 pm CT: Honduras vs. USA
  • 9 pm CT: Costa Rica vs. Mexico
  • 9 pm CT: Panama vs. Trinidad and Tobago


Besler on the Backline?

The Americans' central defense labored throughout Friday's 2-0 loss to Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena. With no more time left to experiment, Arena must decide whether to include Besler this time around after the experienced Sporting KC captain was unused three days ago. Zusi, who delivered a steady right-back performance in the defeat, will be in contention for his 55th cap.


Decisions, Decisions

Forward Jozy Altidore will be sidelined Tuesday due to yellow card accumulation, meaning the U.S. attack will have a different look. Seattle Sounders FC duo Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris came off the bench Friday, but both could be poised for larger roles at Estadio Olimpico. 


In the midfield, U.S. captain Michael Bradley and 18-year-old wunderkind Christian Pulisic are strong candidates to reprise their starting spots. Rounding out the quartet could be any two of Darlington Nagbe, Fabian Johnson, Kellyn Acosta and Alejandro Bedoya.


Catrachos Catching Fire

Honduras' hopes of qualifying for a third straight World Cup looked dead and buried when the Americans blitzed Los Catrachos 6-0 in March. Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto's men have responded positively since, then however, earning back-to-back road results against Panama (2-2 draw) and Trinidad and Tobago (2-1 win) to claw level with the U.S. on eight points.


Pinto's roster includes four players who ply their trade in Major League Soccer. FC Dallas defender Maynor Figueroa captains the side as a seasoned, 34-year-old veteran, while Boniek Garcia, Romell Quioto and Alberth Elis are integral members of the Houston Dynamo. The 21-year-old Elis scored the game-winner in Friday's 2-1 triumph over Trinidad and Tobago.


Know Your History

The U.S. boasts a 16-4-4 all-time record against Honduras, including a 6-2-1 mark in World Cup qualifying. The sides last met on March 24 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, when Dempsey's sensational hat-trick paced a 6-0 thrashing that also produced goals from Pulisic. Zusi played 31 minutes in a second-half cameo, while Besler was an unused substitute.

U.S. MNT Roster


GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)


DEFENDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest/ENG), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)


MIDFIELDERS (9): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC)


FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER)


Honduras Roster


GOALKEEPERS (3): Ricardo Canales (Vida), Donis Escober (Olimpia), Luis López (Real España)


DEFENDERS (8): Ever Alvarado (Olimpia), Bryan Beckeles (Necaxa/MEX), Felix Crisanto (Motagua), Henry Figueroa (Motagua), Maynor Figueroa (FC Dallas/USA), Jhonny Leverón (Marathón), Jhonny Palacios (Olimpia), Carlos Sánchez (Honduras Progreso)


MIDFIELDERS (10): Bryan Acosta (Tenerife/ESP), Jorge Claros (Real España), Juan Ángel Delgado (Honduras Progreso) Carlos Discua (Motagua), Oscar Boniek García (Houston Dynamo/USA) Alexander López (Olimpia), Alfredo Mejía (Xanthi/GRE), Oliver Morazán (Olimpia), Esdras Padilla (Juticalpa) Sergio Peña (Real Sociedad)


FORWARDS (7): Carlo Costly (Olimpia), Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo/USA), Eddie Hernández (Unattached) Ovidio Lanza (Juticalpa) Anthony Lozano (Barcelona B/ESP), Rony Martínez (Baoding Rongda/CHN), Romell Quioto (Houston Dynamo/USA)