With the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup launch less than one week away, CONCACAF.com is taking a closer look at one of the 12 participants each day until July 7, when the competition kicks off at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Today, we feature current Central American champion Honduras.
Gold Cup Glance: Honduras
Head Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto (Colombia)
Qualification Method: Champion, 2017 Copa Centroamericana
Previous Appearances: 12 (1991, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015)
Best Finish: Runner-up-1 (1991)
Record: 18W 7D 19L 67GF 58GA
Current GC All-Time Ranking: 4 out of 24
Biggest Win: 7-1 v Grenada (June 10, 2011)
All-Time Leading GC Scorer: Carlos Pavon (9 goals)
After rallying in a two-legged Caribbean/Central American playoff against French Guiana (agg: 4-3) to claim the last spot in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Honduras left no doubt about its participation in the 2017 edition.
The Catrachos (4W-1D-0L, 13 points) went unbeaten in five games to finish first in the 2017 Copa Centroamericana; securing their 13th-ever berth in CONCACAF’s biennial championship for national teams.
Midfielder Jorge Claros earned Golden Ball honors at the Copa, while forward Eddie Hernandez took home the Golden Boot with three goals. Right-back Jairo Puerto and attacker Erick Andino joined them in the Best XI team.
For all of Honduras’ Copa success, however, Hernandez, Puerto and Andino were omitted from Honduras’ Gold Cup roster, while Claros earned a call-up.
The depth being developed by head coach Jorge Luis Pinto, though, gives belief that Honduras can return to the knockout rounds after not advancing past the group stage two years ago for the first time since 2003. In fact, it reached three straight semifinals, before finishing last in Group A in 2015.
Alberth Elis, Oscar Boniek Garcia and Romell Quioto have each scored at least one goal in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The trio are all with the Houston Dynamo and that familiarity should be beneficial come July.
While Honduras’ defensive abilities in a Gold Cup have rarely been questioned, the offense has not always provided the needed boost. Through 2015, the Hondurans have struck for one goal or fewer in their last seven outings in the tournament.
If Pinto can solve the scoring dilemma, Honduras could push for its first-ever Gold Cup crown.