Pinto, Honduras find their footing

Players from the Honduras national team (pictured) gather for a photo at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on July 6, 2015. (Photo: Mexsport)

FRISCO, Tex. – He wears a different national team shirt than when he was last at a CONCACAF Gold Cup, but Jorge Luis Pinto is very much the same coach with Honduras as he was with Costa Rica.

After leading the Ticos to the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup last summer, Pinto is trying to mold Honduras into an equally successful squad.

“The team is coming along. It’s forming, it’s evolving, as much the offensive side as the defensive side,” Pinto said. “The evolution of the team depends on the individual players and we’re still working on that. The players have the disposition. They’re learning, they’re coming along, but at the same time we’ve only been together 10-12 days as a national team.”

While the Catrachos have had difficulty in the attacking third, they are already displaying the stoutness defensively that is symbolic of past Pinto sides.

“They’re a very good team. We watched the game the other night against Mexico,” United States midfielder Michael Bradley said of Honduras. “I think you see a lot of the qualities of a Pinto team – defensively very organized, very difficult to play against, very quick to close down the space and also quality going forward.”

Indeed, Honduras has conceded just two goals in its last five matches, including a 0-0 draw with Mexico on July 1.

While there have been struggles on the attacking side, Pinto said he saw an improvement against Mexico as compared to a loss at Brazil (1-0) and a road draw with Paraguay (2-2).

“Brazil pressured us, Paraguay was a very hard game, I thought Mexico was a little better in terms of the volume of the attack and what we were able to do offensively,” he said. “We do have the intention to play offensively. That’s what we plan to do and how we’re coming into this Gold Cup.”

Leading up to its Tuesday opener against the United States at Toyota Stadium, Pinto hasn’t made many modifications. One slight change has been defensively, where he’s moved Brayan Beckeles to left back.

“We want to continue the process. We want to bring the same team along and continue to develop,” Pinto expressed. “We don’t want to change things too much in the project we’re working on, but we want all players to be ready to play and contribute. That’s what breeds confidence. Even the players on the bench are ready to go.”

To that point, Pinto said he doesn’t anticipate altering the 5-4-1 formation he’s used leading up to the Gold Cup.

“The same team should play again. It’s been a very good team, they’ve done real well,” Pinto commented. “They play with calmness. They’ve certainly demonstrated that they deserved to be on the field. It should be the same team or at least very few changes.”

While Pinto has concerns about a United States team that comes into the tournament off impressive results against the Netherlands, Germany and Mexico, the coach is confident Honduras can do well.

“I feel calm, but I don’t have an excess of confidence. Nonetheless, I feel good,” Pinto finished. “We’ve challenged this team to do certain things and they’ve responded. Now we’re perfecting and correcting certain things and I feel good about where we are today heading into this tournament.”