GLENDALE, Ariz. — Honduras might possibly have been the easiest CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal opponent Mexico could have hoped for, a team without a single goal physically scored in Gold Cup play.
Los Catrachos still managed four points in group play, three from a win garnered by forfeit when French Guiana deployed Florent Malouda against them after CONCACAF had ruled Malouda ineligible for being cap-tied to France.
Honduras failed to score in that match but was awarded the win and the points from it, which ended up sending them into the knockout round. But when they could not put a goal on the scoreboard on Thursday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in the Gold Cup quarterfinals, their run thudded to an end with a 1-0 loss to El Tri.
It was the expected result against the lords of CONCACAF, but Honduras gave themselves a chance to win. Though Mexico controlled the ball well, Honduras had several chances to draw even and made El Tri sweat out the victory.
“It’s sad because of the results, that’s the truth,” Honduras manager Jorge Luis Pinto said after his team bowed out. “To come here and work as hard as we did … this is a group that works hard. They fight. There were many problems I had to deal with but I still have to come out and talk about it.”
A lack of offense was the biggest problem. And this Honduras side won the Central American championship with seven goals in five games earlier this year.
Seven Honduras goals in the 2018 World Cup qualifying cycle have been scored by the Houston Dynamo trio of Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis and Boniek Garcia. Maynor Figueroa, of FC Dallas, had scored a goal in a previous Gold Cup quarterfinal. Yet none of the four were heard from over four matches.
“It was frustrating, but there were good things,” Pinto said.
Figueroa said the effort was there.
“The team gave everything and we were well received everywhere we went,” Figueroa said. “It was tough the way it ended, but I think when we look back on the results, we will be happy to have represented our country. We know the people are still with us.”
Pinto said he and his staff need to make the team “grow up.”
“We made a mistake and it was costly,” he said of the loss to Mexico. “The thing is, soccer is measured by the number of goals you score.”