Alan Gordon and Chris Wondolowski were grabbing headlines earlier this week for their call-up to and exclusion from the U.S. Men’s National Team roster respectively, but another pair of San Jose Earthquakes teammates were also making travel plans for a week of World Cup Qualifiers.
Defender Victor Bernardez and midfielder Marvin Chavez were both named to the Honduras National Team roster for important upcoming qualifiers with Panama and Canada. The two Hondurans, new to San Jose this season, have made important contributions to the Earthquakes successful run through MLS, and according to head coach Frank Yallop, were very deserving of their call-ups.
"They’ve been great," said Yallop following news of the announcement. "To get both of them back into the national team picture shows how they are playing for us, which is very good. Both guys deserve to get their chance with Honduras. Marvin had a chance to start the last time out and Victor it seems is if he is not the main center back, he is pretty close to it."
With the new emphasis by MLS to schedule breaks in its regular season schedule for FIFA international matches, the Earthquakes will not feel the absence of either Bernardez or Chavez as they attempt to secure the Supporters Shield. San Jose next takes the field on Sunday, October 21, to face the Los Angeles Galaxy, and both Hondurans will be back in time to prepare for that match.
The timing of the World Cup qualifiers could also prove to be advantageous with the MLS playoffs less than a month away, and these international matches providing a must-win atmosphere for Bernardez and Chavez. As the former head coach of Canada’s national team, Yallop can very much appreciate the pressure and intensity that qualifying matches present.
"There’s a no better game than a World Cup qualifier, really," said Yallop. "That is a Cup final because every point is precious. You can’t let points slip away in that because you only play six games. If you lose a couple, you are probably out. But they have a chance of getting through their group, so I think the intensity of these games is great for Victor and Marvin."
Honduras currently sits second to Panama in the Group C standings and will face the group leaders in Panama City this Friday. Los Catrachos follows that visit up with a home match against third place Canada, while Panama conclude group play with an away visit to already eliminated Cuba.
"Panama and Canada are tough, but the next two games are important to them," said Yallop. He then quipped, "It would be nice to see Canada and Honduras through."
Honduras National Team Roster
GOALKEEPERS: Noel Valladares (CD Olimpia), Donis Escober (CD Olimpia), Jose Mendoza (CD Marathon)
DEFENDERS: Wilmer Crisanto (CD Victoria), Juan Carlos Garcia (CD Olimpia), Arnold Peralta (CDS Vida), Jhony Leveron (CD Motagua), Jose David Velasquez (CD Victoria), Osman Chavez (Wisla Krakow), Maynor Figueroa (Wigan Athletic FC), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic FC), Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes)
MIDFIELDERS: Edder Delgado (Real Espana), Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo), Mario Martinez (Seattle Sounders FC), Jorge Claros (Hibernian FC), Marvin Chavez (San Jose Earthquake), Luis Garrido (CD Olimpia), Mario Barrios (CD Marathon)
FORWARDS: Jerry Bengston (New England Revolution), Roger Rojas (CD Olimpia), Georgie Welcome (CD Motagua), Mitchel Brown (CD Marathon), Junior Lacayo (CD Victoria), Carlo Costly (Veria FC)