FRISCO, Texas – It’s not often that you can say that lady luck is on the side of a team that has failed to score in three tournament matches, but such appears to be the bizarre case of Honduras, who moved closer to the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals after a 0-0 draw with Canada on Friday night to round out Group A.
By virtue of their 3-0 forfeit win over French Guiana and the scoreless tie against the Canadians, a superior goal difference likely paves the way for a quarterfinal berth for the Catrachos.
So now, improbably, a possible knockout round date against potentially Mexico or the United States could be in store for Honduras. Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto feels like he’s already playing with house money and would embrace the chance to knock off one of CONCACAF’s big two.
“These three matches have brought us confidence,” said Pinto in his post-match press conference. “We love those games against the US or Mexico. The players get motivated for those. We love to play those games.”
If this all feels slightly familiar, it should. Just last summer ugly duckling Portugal eked out three group stage draws to reach the second round of Euro 2016.
From there, good fortune, combined with steady defending, solid goalkeeping and opportune scoring helped Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. eventually lift their first major trophy.
Could Honduras become this year’s Portugal? For the Catracho players, it’s not that far-fetched.
“Hopefully that happens,” said Honduras midfielder Alfredo Mejia to MLSsoccer.com. “We have that bit of fortune and luck in this moment.”
Houston Dynamo forward Romell Quioto agreed, noting that like Portugal in each subsequent match at Euro 2016, bits of improvement are being seen each time Honduras take the field.
“We’ve been lacking goals, but I think we have played very well. We continue to improve, we can to take another step forward, so we have to prepare for what comes next,” said Quioto.
All of this also would not be possible without the heroics of goalkeeper Luis Lopez. The 23-year-old Real España stopper made a number of brilliant saves throughout the group stage, including a diving stop of a stinging Jonathan Osorio shot late on in Friday’s draw.
For a player who hasn’t even reach double-digit caps with the senior national team, Lopez has quickly earned the trust and admiration of Honduras’ veterans.
“The truth is that he is a goalkeeper for the future, a goalkeeper that has been growing and has known how to assimilate in these type of matches. It’s impressive,” said Mejia.
With the steady presence of Lopez in goal and an ever-growing feeling of invincibility, Honduras would love nothing better than to escort lady luck all the way to a first Gold Cup title.