The U.S. national soccer team hosts Honduras in a World Cup qualifying match Saturday here in Washington. Despite an injury-riddled roster, American coach Bruce Arena is hoping to pick up a victory and three points.
The U.S. team comes into the match with a 4-1-1 for 13 points, tied for first place in the regional group with Costa Rica. Honduras is tied for third place with Jamaica with eight points, 2-2-2.
Despite beating Honduras 2-1 on March 28 at San Pedro Sula, coach Arena realizes the visitors are badly in need of a win. "Our previous encounter is immaterial once the ball rolls out on Saturday," he said. "So I think their focus is on getting three points as well, and I think they have a little bit of momentum from [the] Copa America [tournament] so they are probably feeling pretty good."
Honduras upset Brazil at that event and placed third. Meanwhile, the U.S. roster has been depleted by injuries, with top forwards Brian McBride, Josh Wolff, and Clint Mathis among those sidelined. That could mean a start for 19-year-old U.S. Major League Soccer star Landon Donovan, who has six goals for the San Jose Earthquakes. "It's unfortunate they went down," said Donovan, "because they were playing so well. But it's a good chance for everyone else to get in and show what they have as well."
The top three teams in the six nation group advance to the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
Fifth placed Mexico with seven points, cannot be counted out. The Mexicans play Jamaica on Sunday in Kingston, and a win would put them back in contention. First place Costa Rica plays in Port of Spain Saturday against last place Trinidad and Tobago, which is out of the running. All six teams will be in action again Wednesday, playing the eighth of their 10 games in the final qualifying round. The USA will be at Costa Rica.