Pinto has Honduras heading in right direction

Jorge Luis Pinto (pictured) was named head coach of Honduras in December 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)

HOUSTON – Honduras head coach Jorge Luis Pinto liked what he saw from his team, which played Mexico to a scoreless draw Wednesday night at NRG Stadium in both team’s final tune-up before the start of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“It was a game that both teams played on equal terms,” said the 62-year-old, who led Costa Rica to the 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals and the 2013 Central American Cup title. “Maybe we could’ve possessed the ball better, but we contested the game and didn’t play this as a friendly. We played it like it was a very important game and it was good preparation for the Gold Cup.”

Honduras is unbeaten four of its last five matches heading into the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the only loss coming narrowly, 1-0, at Brazil on June 10.

“We have changed a lot,” Pinto stressed. “I feel that the team plays more with the ball and suddenly is more tactical and looks to play faster football.”

While he knows there’s still more work to do, Pinto is confident that the Catrachos can make a Gold Cup impression. They have reached the semifinals in the last three editions of the competition.

“They will see teams like the United States and Costa Rica to which we’ll give a fight,” commented the Colombian. “There fundamental things that need to improve, having more confidence with the ball.

“Guys like Brayan Garcia, it is his second game and sometimes it costs us,” Pinto said. “We need more maturity and there are many players returning from vacations. We had the opportunity to experiment with Brayan Beckeles on the left in order to see alternatives and he was able to respond quite well fortunately.”

Honduras will face the defending champion United States in its Gold Cup opener on July 7 in Frisco, Texas.