Honduras vs. Canada | CONCACAF 2018 World Cup Qualifying Match Preview

Randy Edwini-Bonsu, Simeon Jackson, Julian de Guzman, Tosaint Ricketts - Canada - Celebration

Friday, September 2 | 5 pm ET
Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano | San Pedro Sula, Honduras

If there were ever a time for Canada to exorcise their demons of World Cup qualifying campaigns gone by, this would be it.

No Canadian fan needs (or wants) a reminder of what took place four years ago, the last time these sides met in the cauldron of San Pedro Sula. But here it is anyway: Canada went into the final game of the penultimate round of qualifying needing only a draw to advance to the Hexagonal round.

Instead, they wilted in the Central American heat, with then-captain Kevin McKenna infamously proclaiming at halftime – with the score 4-0 – that the team was into “damage control” mode. That mode wasn’t any more effective than whatever mode they’d been in before halftime, as the final score would go on to read 8-1.

Since being brought on board eight months after that calamity, head coach Benito Floro has worked to gradually, incrementally (and some would say stubbornly) implement a tactical system that could get the team something that’s absolutely necessary to escaping CONCACAF qualification: results in Central America.

A scoreless draw in a late-2014 friendly in Panama City was the team’s first result in Central America in nearly a decade. A year later, Canada got a 0-0 result in El Salvador in World Cup qualifying. But neither of those opponents or locations carry the same psychological weight as Honduras.

The game will kick off at 3 pm local time, giving the heat-tested Hondurans a maximal home-field advantage. With Mexico’s spot in the Hex already sewn up and El Salvador’s dreams of Russia 2018 likely dead, the one remaining spot in the final round is up for grabs to whoever can get full points in San Pedro Sula.

Rightly or wrongly, this game will be viewed by many as a referendum on Floro’s three-year tenure as Canadian manager. And while another loss in Honduras won’t mathematically eliminate Canada this time around, it would be a result from which it would be extremely difficult for the team, and its head coach, to recover.


Only the most masochistic supporters of the Canadian men’s national team should read this section.

Oh, you’re all still here. OK, well, you were warned.

In the past two World Cup qualification cycles, Canada has been mathematically eliminated in San Pedro Sula – the 8-1 horror show in 2012 and a 3-1 loss in 2008.

Go back to the 2006 World Cup qualifying cycle, and it’s double the disappointment. A dodgy late penalty call gave Honduras a 1-1 draw at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 4, 2004. The following month, a goal from a young Atiba Hutchinson put Canada on pace for a win (!) in San Pedro Sula…until they conceded the equalizer in stoppage time.

Overall, Canada have seven wins, four draws and 10 losses against Honduras. But the team’s greatest World Cup qualifying result of all time – a 2-1 win in St. John’s on Sept. 14, 1985 that clinched Canada its first and only berth in the big tournament – did come against Honduras. So, all is not lost.


Floro’s side didn’t start 2016 on the best note, losing 1-0 in a February friendly to the US (on an 89th-minute goal by Jozy Altidore), then dropping two World Cup qualifiers to Mexico by a combined 5-0 score in March. The massive crowd at Vancouver’s BC Place (54,798) for the home leg against Mexico did raise hopes for a raucous atmosphere at the final game of this round (vs. El Salvador, Sept. 6).

Canada then got two decent results this summer in a pair of friendlies, a 1-1 draw with Azerbaijan and a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan. That victory was Canada’s first against a non-CONCACAF opponent since March 2011.

But there are some notable changes to the lineup that faced Mexico in those last two qualifiers. Julian de Guzman is out with injury, while Will Johnson was curiously excluded, despite returning to the Toronto FC lineup following an injury of his own.


Los Catrachos had a bit better fortune in their pair of qualifiers in March, getting a home win and a road draw against their most bitter rivals, El Salvador. But that draw in San Salvador, in which Nelson Bonilla scored an 88th-minute equalizer for the hosts, could come back to haunt Honduras.

Even so, the Honduran side will be boosted after an encouraging fourth-place finish in the Rio Olympics for their Under-23 team, which featured eight players from this World Cup qualifying roster.

Honduras sit ahead of Canada on goal differential, meaning that a win or draw will put them in the driver’s seat heading into their final game of the group (against Mexico at Estadio Azteca on Sept. 6). But regardless of the results on Sept. 2, both Honduras and Canada will still have everything to play for on that final matchday.


Canada – Atiba Hutchinson. This will be the 33-year-old’s fourth and (presumably) final World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula, and the one in which his presence will be most important. He’ll be the linchpin of a midfield that will have to repel numerous attacks in a frantic environment if Canada hopes to keep a spot in the Hex within reach.

Honduras – Anthony Lozano. The 23-year-old, currently on loan with Tenerife in Spain, led the way for Honduras at the Olympics with three goals. He’s also the most experienced national-team striker (with six goals in 20 appearances) on a roster that is without longtime stalwarts Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengtson.



GOALKEEPERS (3): Milan Borjan (PFK Ludogorets Razgrad/Bulgaria); Kenny Stamatopoulos (AIK Fotbol/Sweden); Maxime Crepeau (Montreal Impact)

DEFENDERS (10): David Edgar (Vancouver Whitecaps); Andre Hainault (FC Magdeburg/Germany); Dejan Jakovic (Shimizu S-Pulse/Japan); Manjrekar James (Vasas Budapest/Hungary); Doneil Henry (West Ham United/England); Marcel de Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps); Nik Ledgerwood (FC Edmonton); Karl Ouimette (Jacksonville Armada); Adam Straith (Fredrikstad/Norway); Steven Vitoria (Lechia Gdansk/Poland)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas); Scott Arfield (Burnley/England); Jamar Dixon (Ottawa Fury); Junior Hoilett (unattached); Atiba Hutchinson (Beşiktaş JK/Turkey); Simeon Jackson (Walsall/England); Samuel Piette (CD Izarra/Spain); Tosaint Ricketts (Toronto FC)

FORWARDS (2): Marcus Haber (unattached); Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC)


GOALKEEPERS (2): Donis Escober (Olimpia/Honduras); Luis López (Real España/Honduras)

DEFENDERS (8): Maynor Figueroa (FC Dallas); Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic/Scotland); Brayan Beckeles (Necaxa/Mexico); Johnny Leverón (UAT/Mexico); Johnny Palacios (Olimpia/Honduras); Henry Figueroa (Motagua/Honduras); Brayan Garcia (Vida/Honduras); Marcelo Pereira (Motagua/Honduras)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo); Jorge Claros (Alajuelense/Costa Rica); Mario Martinez (ENPPI/Egypt); Roger Espinoza (Sporting Kansas City); Carlos Discua (Motagua/Honduras); Romell Quioto (Olimpia/Honduras); Bryan Acosta (Real España/Honduras); Oliver Morazan (Olimpia/Honduras)

FORWARDS (5): Anthony Lozano (Tenerife/Spain); Alberth Elis (Olimpia/Honduras); Eddie Hernandez (Qingdao Jonoon/China); Diego Reyes (Marathon/Honduras); Marco Tulio Vega (Motagua/Honduras)