HOUSTON -- It has been a forgettable 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup thus far for Honduras, with an opening 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica and then a 0-0 draw versus French Guiana, in which “is-he-or-isn’t-he-eligible” Florent Malouda stole the show.
But after the Catrachos failed to make the most of their home crowd advantage in Houston, defender Maynor Figueroa hopes things are different on Friday when the FC Dallas man gets to play host during Honduras’ pivotal Group A clash with Canada at Toyota Stadium on Friday (7 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN, TSN2 in Canada).
“It is going to be special in the sense that we are going to be in my team’s stadium,” said Figueroa to MLSSoccer.com following Tuesday’s draw. “We hope that we can get the result that we want the most, which is a win.”
Should Figueroa get the starting nod for the third time in the tournament, he could well be the only MLSer on the field for Honduras. The Houston Dynamo trio of midfielder Boniek Garcia and forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto are all struggling with injuries at present.
By the looks of their grimacing and hobbling while leaving BBVA Compass Stadium on Tuesday, it is hard to see any of the three Dynamo Catrachos starting on Friday.
It all makes for a pressure-packed contest on Friday, even if Malouda is ruled ineligible and Honduras is awarded the three points. A victory is imperative, first for the simple fact of sealing a place in the quarterfinals, and second to restore some goalscoring confidence, as Jorge Luis Pinto’s men are only one of two teams yet to score in the tournament.
It’s no wonder that Figueroa & Co. are approaching Friday as if a title were on the line.
“We have a match left and it will be a final and we have to play it to the death,” said Figueroa.
Despite all their struggles in this Gold Cup, Honduras can look to their recent history against the Canadians for inspiration.
Figueroa captained the Honduras side that ran roughshod over Canada, 8-1, on the final matchday of the third round of World Cup qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, and then again wore the armband in the Catrachos’ 2-1 triumph on the penultimate matchday of the fourth round of qualifying for Russia 2018.
However, the 34-year-old was quick to remind that Honduras (1 point) are the country looking up at Canada (4 points) in the Group A standings.
“Each match is different, we are in a different moment. They have four points and we are below them, and so we hope on Friday we can come out with a victory,” said Figueroa.