Chile has exceeded many fans expectations but not mine as they have played exactly how I had hoped and saw throughout qualifying with a very opportunistic offense and an airtight defense. They take on Spain, the European champion, who must get a victory or could face an embarrassing exit from the World Cup if Switzerland defeats Honduras in Group H.
Chile aggressive attacking play has netted their squad eight yellow cards so far. Chile will be relying on the forward duo of Mark Gonzalez and Alexis Sanchez to keep playing well and find the net. Chile airtight defense has yet to allow a goal in the tournament. Manager Marco Bielsa will have to juggle the lineup a bit as midfielders Carlos Carmona and Matias Fernandez will miss the match due to yellow card accumulations.
Spain, who is ranked as the second-best team in the world by FIFA would take first place with a win but they could be knocked out of the World Cup with a draw or a loss if Switzerland wins. Spain has all the talent in the world, but hasn’t really been able to put it together in this World Cup, and previous ones for that matter. They may regret missing a boatload of chances against Honduras, especially David Villa missing out on a hat trick when he shot wide on a penalty kick. Their defense has being doing well enough, even though goalie Iker Casillas has looked a little bit shaky. Fernando Torres hasn’t been much of a factor up front and manager Vicente Del Bosque has been criticized by some for not playing midfielder Cesc Fabregas enough.
Spain has a reputation of choking in the big games but Chile hasn’t beaten Spain in seven previous matches, with Spain winning six and drawing one, while outscoring them 18 to 3. Spain is trying to avoid its first group play exit since 1998, which is also the last time Chile reached the round of 16.
These kinda games sprinkle throughout the World Cup where a good fighting defensive team like Switzerland runs up against a buzz-saw and that saw is Spain. One game can change everything but it’s not coming in this match as Spain will look to dominate from start to finish. The reigning European champions and favorites of this World Cup, plan on putting on a clinic of soccer intelligence and showmanship on the pitch and it happens to come at the feet of the Swiss.
Switzerland who was eliminated in 2006 in the round of 16 to Ukraine on penalty kicks will have to try and play for goal differential as they are not competing with Spain but similar squads Honduras and Chile for second place in Group H. Midfielder Gokhan Inter has the unbearable responsibility of trying to break up the midfield play of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. The Swiss will have to search deep for scoring not only against one of the best teams over the last three years but with word that Switzerland’s all-time leader in goals Alexander Frei might miss the opener.
Spain is easily favored to walked away with Group H and should get face no problems along the way as they are made up of a collection of all stars. David Villa is just one of many scoring threats along with Hernandez and Iniesta you will be able to set your eyes upon when watching La Furia. Villa could be in line for the Golden Boot when the 2010 World Cup is all said and done.
Spain has lost once in since November 2006 and is ranked second in rankings by FIFA and the gap between the two squads is just wide.
The 2010 World Cup final group gets underway today and the first countries to set to kickoff the action in Group H is Honduras and Chile. Throughout the qualifying process I gravitated towards Chile and have slightly higher expectations for them but not delusional to think that they are playing for first in this group as that belongs to Spain. This however should be a good match that pits to very similar squads and lots of excitement.
Honduras was dealt a heavy lost before the tournament when Carlos Costly was ruled out with a broken foot but still has a lot of well known players like forward David Suazo and fellow forward Carlos Pavon who could be relied upon for scoring. The luck hasn’t turn around for Honduras with Costly injury as Suazo along with midfielder Wilson Palacios have been operating under injuries over the course of the last two weeks.
However it’s all about Chile for me and who I’m wanting to see compete on the worlds biggest stage especially with the return of forward Humberto Suazo. He has been the biggest reason for my added focus on the Chile throughout the qualifying process as he was off scoring 10 qualifying goals helping earn a spot for Chile. Coach Marcelo Bielsa will play an 3-3-1-3, with Suaza winged by Alexis Sanchex and Mark Gonzalez, all set in motion by play-maker Matias Fernandez and this should make for an exciting movement.
Honduras is a strong team with lots of talent on the defensive side and will need it but I’m so high on Chile that it’s blinding me from wavering from predicting them.
A 188 days left until the world’s biggest sporting event kicks off. If you didn’t get a chance to watch the draw, here is a quick look at the groups. Of course Sports Grind Entertainment will be pulling and wishing for United States to be in the finals, how about the United States and England in the opening game in Group C, but check back after the show to find out who Rudy J, Calvin Casey and myself like as favorites, 188 days out. We will be of course providing more in depth analysis closer to the 2010 World Cup.
Group A: France, Mexico, South Africa, Uruguay
Group B: Argentina, Greece, Nigeria, South Korea
Group C: Algeria, England, Slovenia, United States
Group D: Australia, Germany, Ghana, Serbia
Group E: Cameroon, Denmark, Japan, Netherlands
Group F: Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Ivory Coast, North Korea, Portugal
Group H: Chile, Honduras, Spain, Switzerland
The United States national soccer team qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa next summer with a stunning 3–2 victory over Honduras. They secured one of three automatic berths for South Africa out of the CONCACAF region. Mexico also secured one of the automatic berths.
The star in Honduras for the Americans was striker Conor Casey who scored twice. Landon Donovan added the third American goal which gave the U.S. a 3–1 lead over their hosts after 70 minutes of play. Julio Leon scored twice for Honduras but Carlos Pavon missed a penalty kick, following a hand ball in the penalty area by Jonathan Spector, which would have tied the game at 3–3.
The win by the U.S. marked Honduras’s first home loss in the tournament.
“This isn’t an easy place to play. No one else has won here in qualifying and we just did. We did a good job tonight. We’re going to South Africa,” Donovan said
The United States (6-2-1) is first in North and Central America and the Caribbean with 19 points and assured of one of three automatic berths that to go to the top finishers in the region.
“You don’t want to go into the last game leaving anything to chance,” Donovan said.
“We’re very proud,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “We understand the responsibility we have every time we step on the field for our fans, for our country.”
The U.S. will host Costa Rica on Wednesday to wrap up their World Cup qualifying campaign. Mexico travels to Trinidad & Tobago, while El Salvador hosts Honduras.
Bob Bradley selected his 22-man roster for the upcoming CONCACAF 2010 World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Costa Rica, which will determine if the U.S. qualifies for South Africa automatically.
Surprisingly, New Mexico-born Edgar Castillo, who’s recent switch from Mexico to the U.S. was approved by FIFA wasn’t included. It’s hard to imagine Bradley would have given Castillo his first start in a such a difficult environment like Honduras, yet he could have included him in the squad to get him acclimated going forward.
The U.S. wraps up an automatic berth in the World Cup with a win or if Costa Rica loses to Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. can move to South Africa with a draw at Honduras, should Costa Rica also draw.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan, Tim Howard
DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Steve Cherundolo, Jimmy Conrad, Clarence Goodson, Oguchi Onyewu, Jonathan Spector
MIDFIELDERS (7): Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Clint Dempsey, Benny Feilhaber, Stuart Holden, Robbie Rogers, José Francisco Torres
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidor, Conor Casey, Brian Ching, Kenny Cooper, Charlie Davies, Landon Donovan
As of right now, the Oct. 10 CONCACAF World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Honduras still has the green light from FIFA to be played in San Pedro Sula, even though the Central American nation is a state of political turmoil. Wherever the match is played, Honduras manager Reinaldo Rueda brought in a a first-choice squad. Honduras, would guarantee a place if it beats the U.S. and Costa Rica loses to Trinidad & Tobago.
Big name players brought in for the upcoming game are Tottenham’s midfield Wilson Palacios, Wigan’s Hendry Thomas, Toronto FC’s Amado Guevera and ex-FC Dallas midfielder Ramon Nunez. Inter Milan striker David Suazo, who’s missed most of the final round of qualifying due to a torn knee meniscus is also expected to play.
A Sauzo-less Honduras gave the U.S. all it could handle in a June 6 qualifier in Chicago, with the American falling down a goal, but rallying then hanging on for a 2-1 victory.
The U.S. squeezed by Trinidad and Tobago in Port-of-Spain by the score of 1-0. Ricardo Clark’s blast from just outside the penalty area proved to be enough to secure the three points. The win pushed the U.S. to the top of the CONCACAF Hexagonal with 16 points, ahead of Mexico’s 15 and Honduras 13 points.
The first half saw Trinidad with more shots on target including one off the crossbar, but as it appeared that U.S. coach Bob Bradley was ready to make some changes, Clark nailed his bending shot after collecting a nice pass from Landon Donovan.
In the second half goalkeeper Tim Howard was never really pressed by Tobago. The 9 players that brought yellow cards into the match avoided the receiving another. Barring collapses against Honduras on October 10th and Costa Rica on the 14th, the U.S. should reserve its plane tickets to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup.
It wasn’t pretty but it was a win and an important three points. Honduras your going down.
Twenty years ago, the U.S. national team defeated Trinidad & Tobago to advance to their first World Cup since 1950. Tonight, the U.S. returns to Port of Spain looking for a win in Trinidad to ensuring a place in South Africa. With just one point separating the top four teams in CONCACAF.
Three games remain for each team, while Trinidad (1-4-2) and El Salvador (1-4-2) have not been mathematically eliminated, their hopes are all but been extinguished. That leaves the U.S. (4-2-1), Honduras (4-2-1), Mexico (4-3-0) and Costa Rica (4-3-0) to slug it out for the three automatic berths.
The U.S. will finish at Honduras on Oct. 10 and vs. Costa Rica four days later at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. Those games are far from sure things. The Hondurans have won all eight of their home qualifiers in the current cycle. The Costa Ricans could be playing for their World Cup lives and destroyed the U.S. in the previous meeting.
Oguchi Onyewu returns from yellow-card suspension tonight. But the yellow card story is another issue for the Americans as 9 players (Jozy Altidore, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Ricardo Clark,Clint Dempsey,Landon Donovan and Benny Feilhaber) would miss the Honduras match with a yellow card tonight. With the standings so tight, something as simple as a late tackle in midfield could have an impact on the U.S.’ qualifying prospects.