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Direct from Texas

Honduras Game Plan: Fight Hard, Stay Compact, Win

American Soccer Now's Jon Arnold is in Texas, and he spoke with Honduras' Juan Carlos Garcia and Luis Fernando Suarez. The consensus? Tonight's contest is going to a brutal battle.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
July 24, 2013
12:52 PM
JUAN CARLOS GARCIA remembers it fondly. The U.S. would love to forget it.

Victor Bernadez ran down an errant corner kick and crossed it back into the box, Maynor Figueroa chested it forward, and Garcia, with his back to Tim Howard, contorted his body to bicycle kick the ball into the back of the net for Honduras’ opening goal in its 2-1 victory in San Pedro Sula.

Scoring a goal in World Cup qualifying was improbable for Garcia, especially from a bicycle set up by two fellow defenders. In fact, he likely wouldn’t have been on the pitch but for an injury left back Emilio Izaguirre suffered at Celtic.

Now, the Olimpia man is seeing starting minutes with the team los Catrachos have deployed in the Gold Cup. He said scoring the goal was a highlight, but he won’t dwell on past successes when Honduras takes on the U.S. Wednesday in the tournament’s semifinals.

“I felt very happy in the moment, scoring a goal of this magnitude, but it’s the past now,” Garcia told ASN before training Tuesday. “In this moment, we’re in other circumstances, in another tournament against the same opponent, but it’s going to be a different match.”

While there’s little overlap in personnel, the tactics will be similar. Honduras will go into the game with a defensive mentality set on keeping the United States from scoring while the Americans will seek to keep possession and create scoring chances. Both teams would be grateful for an early goal.

“You can classify Honduras today as an annoying team,” said manager Luis Fernando Suarez. “Because of the competition of the players who are in the team, although they might be losing, they always have attitude, the desire to win and to give everything to get it.”

The Colombian steered Ecuador to the 2006 World Cup and Hondurans hope he’ll do the same with their team now that Brazil is on the horizon. He said playing this sometimes-irritating style with wisdom and athleticism will give Jurgen Klinsmann pause, especially since the teams traded narrow victories in their home-and-away Hexagonal matches. Suarez wants his teams to run for 90 minutes and make life difficult.

That’s what happened in the match played in Honduras, but it might not be as easy for Honduras to fluster an American team in excellent form, especially without the benefit of a hot Honduras day with a Bicolor-backing crowd.

“We know that the U.S. is in really good form, doing things well,” Garcia said. “Our team has done well to get here, and we’re going to try. We know it’s possible and we’re able to win and get to the final.”

Klinsmann knows that the visitors have more than a puncher's chance at victory.

“Does Honduras have a chance? Absolutely,” Klinsmann said. “We start this game 0-0, so it’s 50-50. We know it’s going to be a tough game it’s going to be a game where we have to be patient, where we have to keep a high rhythm, we have to keep the tempo going, we have to find ways hopefully to score a goal first and not give a goal away first.”

Jon Arnold is an ASN 100 panelist and contributing editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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