As the sun began dipping below the Sierra del Merendon on Tuesday, casting wide shadows across the fertile Sula Valley, a youth soccer game unfolded on a field in the city’s southeast outskirts.
A warm breeze rippled the nets, elevated by rusty posts. One team wore the green of Marathon, a local club, the other Real Madrid’s rich blue. Parents watched from beneath a line of trees. A stray dog frolicked.
The tranquil scene belied the blue storm that will descend the next afternoon on a cement structure a few hundred feet away. Beyond a fence topped by barbed wire and patrolled by a security guard with a shotgun balanced on his shoulder, Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano stands in wait.
Here the U.S. men’s national soccer team will continue its quest for a berth in the 2014 World Cup — a meeting with Honduras in the first of 10 final-round qualifiers.