Years of preparation and an intense month on-site in Guadalajara, Mexico, are all culminating in a single monumental match for the US Under-23 males’s national team and their Olympic goals.
The format of the Concacaf Olympic qualifying event is straightforward, nearly brutally so: Make it to the semifinals, then win. Doing so punches a ticket to Tokyo. Anything means crushing failure. It’s do or die on Sunday at Estadio Jalisco (6 pm ET | FS1, TUDN), and a hard, highly effective Honduras side are what stands within the United States’ means.
“That is to qualify for the Olympics and clearly it is an enormous recreation for all of us. It is in all probability one of many largest video games that any of us have played in,” US left back Sam Vines advised reporters in a Saturday press conference.
Head coach Jason Kreis has but to see a complete 90-minute show of high quality from his team, and continues to pursue that goal from a player improvement standpoint. However at this point it’s win by any means crucial in order to maintain their journey, and Group B winners Honduras ought to pose the identical rugged challenge that their senior teams have introduced to many full US national teams over the many years.
“We’re anticipating an intense recreation,” said US U-23s captain Jackson Yueill. “They seem to be a very aggressive team going forward. And I feel their defenders and their midfield particularly are excessive urgent and wish to get after it. However I feel it is a really good team, and it will be a really good challenge for us they’ve loads of good artful players with the ball.”
Kreis said that Minnesota United’s Hassani Dotson, his team’s main scorer and most spectacular midfielder at this event up to now, is preventing an ankle sprain sustained within the late going of their final group-stage match, Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Mexico, and could also be restricted vs. Honduras.
“Hassani went out of the last recreation with an ankle sprain. He did not prepare yesterday, he educated for a bit bit right this moment,” said Kreis. “It is nonetheless a bit bit questionable as as to whether or not he’ll be within the lineup.”
So as to add additional intrigue to that matter, Loons head coach Adrian Heath advised St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Andy Greder on Saturday that Dotson knowledgeable him by way of textual content that he can be match for the big recreation:
Replace: #MNUFC manager Adrian Heath said he texted with #USYNT midfielder Hassani Dotson since he sprained left ankle vs. Mexico on Wednesday. “He said he was going to be match for (Sunday’s) recreation,” Heath shared. If the People beat Honduras, they’re in Summer season Olympics in Tokyo.
— Andy Greder (@andygreder) March 27, 2021
Kreis should additionally select which two of his three center backs get the beginning nod – he referred to as it an “extraordinarily troublesome” decision, praising all three of Justen Glad, Henry Kessler and Mauricio Pineda – and which wingers are the best option to flank Jesus Ferreira, the presumptive first selection for the No. 9 spot. And he’ll must have his side ready for a fast, intelligent Catrachos team that sometimes trots out in an easy 4-4-2 formation and imposes themselves bodily all over the park.
“It is one other team that I feel has some really, really good attacking choices. Their central midfielder No. 8, [Edwin] Rodriguez, is pulling loads of the strings. Their proper midfielder who’s really a left-footed player, [Alejandro] Reyes, comes inside and is an actual hazard and menace,” famous Kreis.
“The truth that they play with two forwards will give us a bit little bit of a unique look than we’ve confronted on this event to date, and will imply that our back 4 must be very related and very in-tune with issues. So a dangerous team, an excellent team, and I would not have it some other means, really. We should always need to beat and dangerous team in order to qualify for the Olympics.”
It’s a blessing for the US that Honduras central midfielder Kervin Arriaga, who Kreis referred to as “the center and soul” of their side, is suspended due to a yellow card picked up against Canada on Thursday. But there’s additionally a wild card within the type of Rigoberto Rivas, the proficient striker who arrived at this event late due to his duties with Italian Serie B membership Reggina and poses a doubtlessly game-breaking menace.
Vines emphasised that the US U-23s need to start on “the entrance foot” and stay there, and controlling the sport’s tempo will probably be vital given the event’s excessive stakes and jangling nerves. Penalty kicks are additionally a chance ought to the score stay deadlocked after 90-plus minutes and additional time. Embracing the stress and seizing the moment is not any straightforward process right here, nevertheless it could possibly be important for survival.
“, the phrase alternative has been thrown round so much,” said Yueill. “And I feel it is a big alternative for the entire team and the entire teaching workers, and for U.S. Soccer, to get us back to the Olympics and to point out that we’re team in Concacaf and that we deserve to be within the big stages and within the world tournaments.