After Mexico and Costa Rica got CONCACAF off to a dream start at the World Cup, both turning in victories, many wondered if Honduras could offer similar magic in the face of long odds against a powerhouse France side.
But for Los Catrachos, who feature the most Major League Soccer players this side of the US national team, there would be no such upset as France left no doubt in a dominating 3-0 victory Sunday night at Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre.
Honduras were cut down to 10 men right before halftime after a second yellow on Wilson Palacios led to a Karim Benzema penalty-kick goal, his first of two strikes on the night. And adding injury to insult, center back Víctor Bernárdez collapsed to the ground in the 18th minute in a non-contact injury.
The San Jose Earthquakes defensive leader soldiered on after a brief delay but subbed off at halftime. Manager Luis Fernando Suárez said in his translated postgame remarks that the injury is “quite serious.”
“However, I think that the best thing to do is wait and see what the doctor says,” Suarez said.
For the remainder of Honduras’ MLS contingent, it was an equally forgettable evening.
New England Revoluton forward Jerry Bengtson also came off at halftime after failing to record a shot. He was replaced by Houston Dynamo star Boniek García, whose health has been in question with a muscle strain in his leg, who only managed one shot in his 45-minute shift.
D.C. United Academy product and 2010 MLS Rookie of the Year Andy Najar, who now plays for Anderlecht, put in a 58-minute shift in midfield, while former Sporting Kansas City midielder Roger Espinoza put in a full 90 also in midfield.
“There are no excuses; I think they played better than we did,” Suárez said. “There are certain things we’ll have to improve in the future, but sometimes it is difficult to play with less players for such a long time, especially in facing a team that is very well organized and knows how to play.
“I think the result would have been different if we didn’t play with a man less for such a long time,” he continued. “… Sometimes these things happen.”
Honduras, who now in their third World Cup have yet to win a game, find themselves under the gun in their next Group E game, Friday against Ecuador, who fell to Switzerland earlier in the day, in what will ultimately be a game of survival against two Game 1 losers. Los Catrachos are in last place in the group.
“Each game is a new opportunity and we believe we are well equipped to get different results in our next match,” Suárez said.