My how the mighty have fallen. Honduras, once a favorite to advance alongside the United States in Group A of the 2015 Gold Cup are now sitting home after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of upstart Haiti. While the Haitian’s rise is a great story, the failure of Honduras is equally as puzzling.
After all, this was a team that did upset Spain at the 2012 Olympics and stared down Brazil at those very Games and almost beat them. And we’re talking “pre getting their butt kicked by Germany” Brazil. Honduras also made it to the 2010 and 2014 World Cup.
How could that team not even make it out of group play of the Gold Cup?
Sure, star defender Emilio Izaguirre wasn’t allowed to play thanks to club side Celtic having Champions League qualifiers starting on Wednesday (yes, European soccer season is already upon us). Yes, there was turnover from the defense named to last summer’s World Cup, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing from a side that finished last in Group E.
After all, this was a group that had a -7 goal differential in that tournament (the second worst mark in the 2014 World Cup). Changes were bound to happen given those results, but overall this was a younger team at the 2015 Gold Cup.
Four of the seven defenders named were born in the 1990’s and the oldest defender on the roster, Maynor Figueroa, is just on the opposite side of 30 having been born in 1983.
This was still a side with some staying power in the midfield. Former D.C. United and current Anderlecht star, Andy Najar, and Houston Dynamo midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia were still there.
Up front it was a completely new group, with no Jerry Bengtson, Jerry Palacios, Rony Martinez or Carlo Costly in this side.
The Gold Cup is such a different animal, with rosters being able to be switched out after the group stage, but a side like Honduras can’t just throw an experimental group out there and hope for qualification and thus the big guns coming in.
A look in to Honduras’ past at this tournament also suggests this result is completely puzzling. This is a team that has made it to the semi-final in four of the last five Gold Cups and have had at least one win in every tournament since 2005.
That’s six tournaments and 12 years for those of you counting at home. It shouldn’t be like this at all. For whatever reason, Honduras has stagnated and with teams like Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti performing better in the Gold Cup as well as beating Honduras in the FIFA Rankings, Honduras need to solve their problems and fast or this will only be the beginning.