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Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Sports Thread #2/The World Cup 2-A Days Team Runthrough #2 For 5/29/14: #28 Honduras

Photo from Stanley Chou/IOC

Projected Formation (4-2-2): 

                Valladares

Peralta  - Bernandez- Figueroa - Izaguirre

Espinoza -  Garcia -   W. Palacios  -   Najar

            J.Palacios - Bengtson

The Runthrough

Colombian manager Luis Fernando Suarez went from the highs of leading an Ecuador side out of the group stages at the 2006 World Cup to the lows of emphatically being fired thanks to the rough start of that nation's unsuccessful 2010 qualiication bid.

Suarez has recovered to display his winning managing credentials, leading Honduras to a second straight World Cup. Barring a miracle however, he will have to hold off on adding more W's to his win column.

Unlike central American rivals Costa Rica with Brian Oviedo's devastating ACL injury, there are no absences that Garcia has to overcome. However, this Honduran side (100% full strength or not) will be completely up against it, targeted to finish last and be the goal difference test to see which of Switzerland, France, and Ecuador goes home with them in Group E.

The real bad news for the 54-year-old manager is the disarray at who will be the two key men joining regulars Wilson Palacios and Victor Bernandez in the vital middle of the field. Suarez's long going search for a permeant centerback partner for Bernandez may lead him to placing Maynor Figueroa right next to him, opening up the rightback spot for either Arnold Peralta or Brayan Beckeles. Neither are nowhere near the level of the energetic Hull City fullback, nor the underrated leftback Emilo Izaguirre, a fine performer for Celtic the last four years.

Finding Palacios help in the midfield is also something Suarez and the Honduran nation ponder everyday. It will be predicated on what formation Los Catrachos brings come June 15 against the 1998 world champions for the Stoke City man to know if he will be part of a straight four, a three man line, or even a scenario of being the central figure in a 5-man "park the bus" aliment. Regardless of what it will be, anything less of a top performance from Palacios could spell Honduras finishing 32 in all 32 teams in Brazil.

They do, however, have attacking options who showed at the London 2012 Olympics that they aren't intimidated to be on a global stage. Andy Najar is growing his trade for the Jupiler Pro League champions Anderlecht with his smooth abilities and growing maturity on one wide side of the midfield, while Roger Espinoza showcased why European top flight football should be his destination next season after another solid stint with Wigan in The Championship. Espinoza's skillful directness has been prevalent in England since those Olympic games where he made himself become a household name.

Neither are as good of wingers as the ones featured on France (the likes of Franck Ribery, Antoine Grizemann, and Mathew Valbuena), Switzerland (Xherdan Shaqiri, Tranquillo Barnetta), and Ecuador (Antonio Valencia). However, they will not have trepidation over this names and will try to show why they are talents the world's eyes need to observe as well.

The same intrepid mentality holds true for an athletic and pacy forward line that, outside of Carlos Costly, are CONCACAF club regulars. One of the weird mysteries in the region is why the uber talented Jerry Bengtson can showcase his talents for the national team yet not find a regular starting place with rebuilding MLS outfit New England Revolution. The 27-year-old has an amazing 19 goals in 41 appearances for Honduras, including three superb tallies in their London 2012 tournament participation. One of those goals was a fine flashing header past David De Gea that eventually knocked Spain out of the Olympics.

It's like Bengtson becomes the old version of David Suazo, the great talent that Honduras fans saw before his incredibly unfortunate decline due to injuries and lost form, whenever he puts on the colors of the blue and white. He will certainly be hungry, along with the other "Jerry" in Wilson's brother Jerry Palacios, to pounce on any of the likely few chances Honduras will get in Group E. Also eager to perform on the world's stage is Carlo Costly, who is back in the Western Hemisphere with Real España after a weird but successful half year stint for Guizhou Zhicheng in China's second division (yes, you read that right). It will be a sweet relief for Costly if he can make it through the friendly warmups without injury, something he was unlucky not to accomplish in 2010. This certainly will mark as his last chance to play at a World Cup.

Under The Radar, Important Player

Jorge Claros of Honduran domestic power Motagua will need to have a few miracle performances and help Wilson Palacios and his backline in the midfield, especially if he starts the match for Suarez. The 28-year-old has the bite, but the talent against his future Group E rivals he just doesn't have. 
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