It's no secret that the U.S. men's national team needs to beat Honduras (Friday, 10:30 p.m. ET on FS1). After losses in their first two matches of the final round of World Cup qualifying, the Americans are desperate for points, especially at home.
What are the keys to a U.S. win?
The Americans need a win and Honduras will pack men behind the ball. It will be tempting to throw men forward, especially if there isn't an early goal, but the Americans need to show some patience. They have the talent to break Honduras down and get a goal without panicking, need to win and frustration be damned. The last thing they want to do is overcommit and get exploited.
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Be wary of the Honduras counterattack
This is related to the patience aspect. Honduras will spend most of the match defending, but they are deadly on the counter. If the Americans aren't patient, they will lose their shape and be vulnerable to the counterattack. Moreover, they need to be sure to slow Honduras when the Catrachos do get going. They can't let Honduras attack at speed.
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A good game from whoever replaces Jermaine Jones
Jones is suspended, which means Michael Bradley will have a new central midfield partner. It could be Sebastian Lletget, or Kellyn Acosta, or Dax McCarty or Geoff Cameron. Whoever it is, the Americans need to get a good match from. Not only will that person have to get forward and help break down a Honduras team committed to defending, but they'll also be key to stopping the visitors' counter.
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Don't get burned on the wings
The Americans still don't have a dependable left back. Whether DaMarcus Beasley or Jorge Villafana gets the nod, there will be some concern there. Meanwhile, Bruce Arena will be leaning on his fifth(ish) choice right back. The U.S. don't need sterling fullback play -- solid and dependable will do.
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There was a time when the Americans were dominant on set pieces. It was a point of strength and, especially in physical World Cup qualifiers, how they picked up points. That hadn't been the case so much in recent years, but it can change. John Brooks, Jozy Altidore, Geoff Cameron and Michael Bradley are all plenty good in the air. Whoever else plays centerback, be it Omar Gonzalez, Michael Orozco or Walker Zimmerman, is another asset in the air. Whether it's attacking or defending set pieces, the Americans need to be good on them.