Three Points: USA v Honduras

The USA (left) and Honduras (right) met in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals and will open against each other in the 2015 edition on July 7, 2015, in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: Mexsport)

FRISCO, Texas – The United States opens defense of its CONCACAF Gold Cup (CGC) title on Tuesday against Honduras at Toyota Stadium.

Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:

1) The U.S. is riding high

Under manager Jürgen Klinsmann, the U.S. is experiencing an unprecedented run of success. Building on its strong showing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Americans – who have won three of the last five Gold Cup titles – enter tournament play on a five-match winning streak that includes high-profile triumphs over the Netherlands and World Cup champion Germany. In its last CGC tune-up on July 3, the Stars & Stripes topped Guatemala, 4-0. The U.S. has a 5W-1D-0L record in six all-time CGC games against Honduras.

2) Defense the priority for Honduras

While it’s likely that the U.S. will face defensive-minded opposition throughout the tournament, few teams will do so with the type of vigor and tactical awareness that Honduras possesses. Under manager Jorge Luis Pinto, the Catrachos adapted the same defensive strategy deployed by Pinto while at the helm of Costa Rica’s magical 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal run. In recent matches – including a 0-0 draw with Mexico in the final pre-CGC friendly – Pinto has utilized a high, five-man back line to stifle the opposition. If the Hondurans can play to their potential in the defensive third, they will look to talented attackers Andy Najar and Antony Lozano on the counterattack.

3) Captain America

When the Stars & Stripes take the pitch on Tuesday, they will be led out by skipper Michael Bradley. Set to make his 100th appearance, the 27-year-old was named team captain by manager Jürgen Klinsmann this past week, inheriting the post from Clint Dempsey in the wake of a disciplinary incident in a match for his club last month. For Bradley though, the long-anticipated appointment comes well deserved, especially considering the former Roma man’s influence throughout their recent European tour. The 2015 edition marks Bradley’s fourth CGC appearance.

Bonus Points
  • The U.S. is 28W-2D-1L in 31 all-time CGC group stage games.
  • The U.S. is 12W-0D-0L in 12 all-time CGC openers.
  • Honduras’ best CGC finish came as runner-up in 1991, falling to the U.S. on penalty kicks, 4-3, after a scoreless draw.