By IVES GALARCEP
HARRISON, N.J.– The Honduran Men’s National Soccer Team came into the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup expected to walk through Group B, even with what was largely a B team, but the reality of this Gold Cup is that easy games will be tough to come by.
The Catrachos found that out in their opener vs. Haiti on Monday night. They notched an early goal, but soon found themselves being dominated by a Haitian side with quality play in midfield. Unfortunately for the Haitians, awful finishing doomed them to a scoreless 90 minutes, and a Marvin Chavez insurance goal in the 77th minute helped Honduras secure a 2-0 victory in the Group B opener in a sold-out Red Bull Arena. The match was the Group B opener for both sides.
Honduras can secure a place in the Gold Cup quarterfinals with a win in their next Group B match, on Friday against El Salvador at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
Spurred on by a heavily pro-Honduras crowd, the Catrachos jumped on Haiti from the opening minutes, breaking through in the fourth minute when Rony Martinez ran onto a Mario Martinez pass to open the scoring with a 12-yard blast.
Rather than crumble early, Haiti shook off the early goal and proceeded to take control of the match. Knocking the ball around the middle third with relative ease against a Honduras team that seemed content to sit back and protect the lead.
Haiti’s inept finishing bordered on comical at times, with the underdogs managing nine shots from relatively close range. Conversely, Honduras only managed two shots inside the penalty area, and converted both shots into goals.
The midfield work of Jeff Louis, Peterson Joseph, Yves Desmarets and Jean-Marc Alexander helped the Haitians control the match for long stretches, but far too often their possession would end with a wayward shot or turnover.
Honduras’ defense, bolstered by the stellar play of midfielder Jorge Claros stationed in front of the back four, did well to thwart many of Haiti’s attacking forays, but the Caribbean squad still found themselves with good looks that went begging every time. Forward Leonel Saint Preaux was particularly wasteful, missing on three chances in the penalty area, including one wide-open look that drew a save from Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escobar in the 53rd minute.
Eventually, the chances stopped coming for Haiti, and Honduras regained control with the help of second-half substitutes Marvin Chavez and Alexander Lopez. Chavez sealed the victory in the 77th minute when he took a cross from Bryan Beckeles and placed a shot through the legs of a Haitian defender and past Haitian goalkeeper Frandy Montrevil.
Haiti will look to regroup on Friday with a match against Caribbean rival Trinidad & Tobago, which came back to earn a 2-2 draw vs. El Salvador in the early Group B match at Red Bull Arena.
Here are the match highlights:
What did you think of the match? Impressed with Haiti? Think Honduras can challenge for the Gold Cup title, or think they’re not quite good enough to seriously threaten the United States?
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