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U.S. to face hot qualifier

MIAMI – The U.S. national soccer team practiced in relative anonymity at Florida International University on Monday morning before boarding a flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier between the United States and Honduras is such a big deal the day has been declared a national holiday.

Businesses and government offices will close early, and schoolchildren will be released early so that everyone can watch the match. The game was scheduled at 3 p.m. so the home team can take advantage of the heat and humidity against an American team with 14 Europe-based players who have been playing in cold weather and will have only 48 hours to get acclimated to the heat.

Those 14 players flew overseas Sunday and Monday, and have a very short turnaround to prepare for the first match in the final round of regional World Cup qualifying.

There are six teams remaining – the U.S. Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Panama. The top three advance to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The No. 4 team enters a playoff against the top team from Oceania, most likely New Zealand.

• Four Seattle Sounders have been called for national team duty, including midfielder Brad Evans and forward Eddie Johnson, who will join the U.S. National Team for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier in Honduras.

The Honduran team will also have a Sounder – midfielder Mario Martinez. Additionally, Sounder defender Adam Johansson is with Sweden preparing for this week’s friendly against Argentina.