US setback for Specs

Jonathan Spector is heading for his home city of Chicago hoping to play his part as the United States look to bounce back from the 3-1 defeat in Costa Rica.

The US welcome Honduras to Soldier Field on Saturday smarting from their first defeat in the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when only Landon Donovan's late penalty gave any respectability to a match played in the early hours of Thursday morning London time.

Spector had been tipped to figure at right-back but that berth went to Marvell Wynne, the Toronto FC full-back, and he had to be content instead with a watching brief in San Jose. The West Ham United youngster will hope for better this weekend, with the 23-year-old having fond memories of playing in the Windy City.

"I played against Mexico in Chicago in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in 2007 and that was very special. Chicago is where I'm from and I hope to again play in front of my family and friends. It's a good opportunity for me and I'm looking forward to it. I've certainly had more than my fair share of ticket requests!"

The US find themselves two points behind leaders Costa Rica in the CONCACAF standings, and two ahead of third-placed Honduras who have a game in hand. Only the top three nations in the six-team group are guaranteed a place in next summer's finals and the US still have to travel to Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago.

More than 40,000 tickets have been sold for this weekend's match at the home of the Chicago Bears NFL franchise, showing soccer is popular in a city famed for its American Football heritage. "Soccer is pretty well-supported in Chicago and the city is also the home of the US Soccer Federation," Spector added.

Following his trip home, the versatile 23-year-old will be eager to make up for lost time by being named in the US's 23-man squad for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa. Spector missed both the 2006 FIFA World Cup and last year's Beijing Olympic Games through injury and is desperate to be involved this time around.

The US face world champions Italy, five-time World Cup winners and Copa America holders Brazil and African Cup of Nations winners Egypt at the group stage, kicking off with a mouth-watering clash with the Italians in Pretoria on 15 June. Bradley's team will take on Brazil at the same venue three days later before facing Egypt in Rustenburg on 21 June.

"I'm certainly looking forward to that," said Spector. "We have three tough games in Brazil, Italy and Egypt so it's a very difficult group, but it's a good way for us to test ourselves going into, hopefully, next year's World Cup. We've no idea who Italy or Brazil will bring in their squads but, whoever they bring, I'm sure they'll be pretty good players."