USA v Honduras: Soccer Picks in Must-Win Game for Bruce Arena

Martin Green

Thursday, March 23, 2017 5:42 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017 5:42 PM UTC

The USA will play Honduras in a must-win World Cup qualifier in San Jose on March 24 as new coach Bruce Arena bids to turn around the struggling team’s fortunes.

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The USMNT sits bottom of its qualification group after losing its first two games, a run that cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job. Since then, Bruce Arena has rejoined as head coach and will be desperate to get off to a winning start and climb off the bottom of the group. Their first stop on their way up: Honduras.

Losing the opening qualifier at home to Mexico was pretty bad, but not the end of the world as Mexico is a strong team. But losing 4-0 to Costa Rica in the next game was unforgivable and Klinsmann had to go. Fortunately for the USA, there is plenty of time for the new coach to salvage the team’s bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They still have eight games to play, and the USA is full of enough talent to pull it off. If they fail, it would be the first time the USA has not been present at a World Cup since 1986, but Arena is not thinking about that.

He is the most successful coach in the USA’s history: during an eight-year tenure between 1998 and 2006 he won 71 games and reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Since then he has had a hugely fruitful stint in charge of LA Galaxy, among other top MLS jobs, and has honed his coaching skills by mentoring the likes of David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard.

The USA should now be feared in this group. They are still likely to qualify, and they have the perfect fixture to get their campaign back on track. The USA has won 10 of its last 12 games against Honduras. In the last four times the USA and Honduras have met on American soil, the USA has won three and drawn one. They should dominate this one.

Honduras is three points ahead of the USA in this group but is not expected to qualify. It got off to a poor start by losing at home to Panama, but then beat Trinidad & Tobago 3-1. Trinidad & Tobago is also on zero points in this group, and beating them is hardly anything to write home about as it is a tiny country. The USA is 30th in the FIFA World Rankings, while Honduras is 65th. This is a game Arena and his team really should expect to win.

A new manager almost always galvanizes an ailing team and these players are likely to go out and play for their places in the starting 11. Arena has to deal with a selection crisis at right back due to a raft of injuries, but that is a minor headache in the grand scheme of things. The USA is not as talented as the team Arena took to the 2002 World Cup, but still likes of Christian Pulisic and Clint Dempsey should have enough about them to gun down Honduras.

The World Cup Qualifiers odds reflect that and the USA is -150 with William Hill to win this match. That actually looks like a good set of odds, given how desperate the USA is to win this game, and its recent record against a relatively poor Honduras team. But if you want more value, you can get -120 with Bet365 on the USA -1 Asian handicap. It might be risky to push it further than that, but -120 on the Asian looks a good option as it covers you if they only win by one goal. 

Free Soccer Pick: USA -150Best Line Offered: at Bet365

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