The Back Four: USA v. Honduras

With Benny Feilhaber brought into the squad, it appears that coach Bradley is just a bit uneasy heading into tonight’s match with Honduras. While first-time pairing Kyle Beckerman and Logan Pause impressed some, the reviews on the two varied wildly. Feilhaber’s introduction to the squad means at least one will likely see the bench, if not both.

With that being noted, what should we watch for in tonight’s game?

  1. Where does Stuart Holden play?
    Holden looked good in his first ever cap on Saturday, but he looked a bit uncomfortable at times out wide. I think he’s a natural central-mid, so I’d like to see what he can do alongside Feilhaber.
    I know some of you will respond “But who will win the ball?”, and that’s fair. But, withouth Wilson Palacios and Amado Guevara, Honduras has very little midfield threat through the center of the park. Feilhaber showed plenty of defensive ability against Brazil to make me think he’ll be just fine against Honduras, as will Holden.
    If Holden does indeed start out wide again, his combination with Cherundolo, both defensively and offensively, will be key to the US winning this game.
  2. How does Parkhurst handle the start?
    With Clarence Goodson likely sitting out with a leg injury and Jimmy Conrad unavailable as well, Michael Parkhurst will have step in alongside Chad Marshall.
    Some of you are probably bigger fans of Parkhurst than me, but I’m very uneasy about not only his ability to defend at this level – he’s tiny and rather unathletic – but also his ability to adapt to a 4-man backline with two high-pressure wingbacks.
    He’s a smart player that positions himself well, but against a fast-paced international squad like Honduras, it will be trying for him to adapt to the speed without resorting to his “deep-lying sweeper” role that he often occupies.
    Parkhurst’s discipline in formation and ability to keep up with pacey forwards is one of the top things to watch out for tonight.
  3. Who starts up top?
    Does Bradley elect to stick with the Davies\Adu combo? Given that Davies has speed that no one else has, it’s hard to see a reason for him to be rested against Honduras.
    Adu, even though he showed some rust, looked like a creative attacking player that was working well with both the midfield and with Davies.
    With Ching apparently still hampered by injury, the only other options are Kenny Cooper, Santino Quaranta, and Davy Arnaud. Arnaud looked slow and generally out of his depth even against Grenada, so I’d be surprised if he gets another go.
    Quaranta is a D.C. player, so it’s quite likely he’ll get a chance in front of his own fans. (Coincidentally, Adu is also a D.C. player, so he won’t come off the field much either).
    Cooper is the one player that US fans seem to clamor for the most, though, so he might get a chance to play alongside Davies or Adu.
    For now, I don’t expect a change – Adu and Davies will likely start.
  4. Where does Carlos Costly start out?
    Easily the most dangerous Honduran on the field tonight, Costly has given the US fits before.
    How will Honduras employ him tonight? My gut is telling me he’ll lineup in the middle, trying to take advantage of Parkhurst’s lack of speed, but he could also try his luck on the right-hand side against Heath Pearce.
    If the US can contain Costly, then it should be reasonably easy to maintain a shutout.

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