The U.S. men's national soccer team will have a chance to secure a place in the 2010 World Cup with a win against host Honduras, in San Pedro Sula on Saturday. The U.S. team will also have one last chance next week if needed to reach football's premier event.
The United States leads the regional standings with 16 points as it seeks its sixth straight World Cup berth. Mexico has 15 points. Honduras is currently third with 13 points followed by Costa Rica with 12. The top three teams in the CONCACAF region qualify for the finals in South Africa. The number four team advances to a playoff against the fifth-place nation from South America.
A victory over Honduras will qualify the United States for the World Cup finals. U.S. coach Bob Bradley and his players expect a tough game. Honduras is unbeaten at home in qualifying and a boisterous crowd is likely in San Pedro Sula.
"This game means everything to Honduras and its people," Bradley noted. "The atmosphere in the stadium will be loud, passionate, exciting. And we have seen that in other places and so we draw the parallels and draw upon those experiences. I think that will work well for us."
The United states withstood some early mistakes to beat Honduras, 2-1, at Chicago's Soldier Field in a qualifier in June. The U.S. men also beat Honduras, 2-0, at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.
Despite having not lost to Honduras in their last five meetings, Bradley says the two teams know each other well and any outcome is possible.
"It has been a very, very tight final round because of some of the other results. But the opportunity to go there and play to win and come away with three points is a great challenge," Bradley said. "One that we are embracing. And I think we are going to go for it with everything we have knowing that obviously we still have the home game to follow."
A poor result in Honduras would leave the United States seeking a win or a tie in an all-important final match against Costa Rica on Wednesday at R.F.K. Stadium in Washington, D.C.