DAVID SMITH - Saturday, October 8, 2011
The US National team will be looking for their first win under new head coach Jürgen Klinsmann when they host regional rivals Honduras on Saturday evening at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
Klinsmann's experimental approach to player selection and on-field tactics in his first two months in charge have given fans some reasons for optimism, however have yet to yield any victories through three games.
Most recently, the team was narrowly beaten in a rain-soaked encounter in Brussels against a young Belgian squad, and the they could be in for another bad-weather encounter, albeit with much warmer temperatures, when they take the field on Saturday evening in southern Florida.
The team heads into this first of two October friendly matches without one of the cornerstones of Klinsmann's new-look midfield, after Jose Francisco Torres was forced to have foot surgery during September and will be unavailable until 2012.
Also notably absent from the squad is all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan, who suffered an injury to his quadriceps in club play, and was replaced on the roster by currently on-fire Ingolstadt striker Edson Buddle, who started the first game under Klinsmann's reign against Mexico.
Also returning to the national team fold after a short absence is Oguchi Onyewu, who had been struggling with both injuries and an unsteady club situation over the previous two years, but has shown signs of returning to his former self in a series of strong games recently with Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.
The game could also see the USA debut for one of the long-anticipated German imports to the team, after Hoffeinheim midfielder Danny Williams finally received his US passport and was invited by Klinsmann to his first national team camp.
Williams transferred to Hoffenheim at the tail-end of the summer transfer window, and has slowly carved out a spot in the team, most recently helping them to hold German heavyweights FC Bayern to an impressive scoreless draw last weekend.
The game will also feature a number of other foreign-based American stars who have been playing well for their new club teams.
AZ Alkmaar forward Jozy Altidore is having perhaps the best run of his career since moving to Europe, having scored seven goals through twelve domestic and Europa League games with his new team.
Team captain Carlos Bocanegra has also been a welcome presence to the starting lineup of a Rangers team which has stormed through Scottish Premier League play with an imposing record of just three goals conceded through their first ten games.
DaMarcus Beasley has experienced a resurgence since joining Mexican team Puebla in the summer, starting 11 games for the team and scoring two goals to put himself firmly back in the national team picture.
The US has a strong record against their opponents Honduras, with an all-time record of 11 wins against three each of losses and draws, with their most recent meeting being in a January, 2010 friendly in Los Angeles.
The Hondurans are also coming off of two straight shut-out losses in September, first losing to Colombia by a 2-0 margin in Red Bull Arena, then falling 3-0 against Paraguay in their home country three days later.
They are most notably missing Stoke City midfielder Wilson Palacios, who is out with a knee injury, and will be significant underdogs in their quest to take a second straight victory against the US on American soil following their 3-1 win in the game last January.