Boca Juniors defends roster choices for soccer friendly vs. Honduras

What’s the importance to Argentina’s legendary Boca Juniors of Wednesday’s 7 p.m. soccer friendly at Sun Life Stadium against the Honduras national team?

Very important, according to Boca Juniors vice president Oscar Moscariello.

As Moscariello spoke in a room more familiarly used for Dolphins coach and quarterback postgame interviews, a new U.S. marketing strategy with Nike was being introduced at Miami Beach’s Eden Roc hotel. Any South American club team desiring a big footprint in the United States would logically start in Miami, especially if it’s rolling out new jerseys, the athletic wear of choice among many South Florida youth.

“I just want to reiterate how important that is,” Moscariello said through a translator, “and that’s why I would like to put emphasis on the fact that we bring the top players. It goes to show that it is important to us to bring the top team or the players at the top of their game right now to develop the brand of Boca in the United States.”

This is Boca Juniors’ first game in Miami since 2004 and the third international soccer match this summer at Sun Life Stadium, following June’s all-star game featuring Argentine star Lionel Messi and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba and a July friendly between Italy’s AC Milan and England’s Chelsea.

Wednesday’s game is not very important to Boca Juniors, according to some in Honduras, unhappy with the side they have heard the famed franchise will field. The first question of Tuesday evening’s news conference, aimed at Moscariello, claimed some Hondurans saw the lineup as a disrespectful shot at the Honduras national team.

Moscariello replied that he found the question disrespectful and that, no matter the match, Boca Juniors would play those on their 30-man roster in best shape at the time of the match.

On a conference call Friday, team president Daniel Angelici said Boca would choose Wednesday’s roster keeping in mind it has a weekend match in the Initial Tournament in Argentina.

“We may be newer players, but when we step on the field, we’re playing for our livelihood,” Boca Juniors forward Nicolas Blandi said Tuesday through a translator. “We hope to put on a great show [Wednesday] so nobody feels we disrespected anybody.”

Honduras’ Roger Espinoza, a member of Major League Soccer’s Kansas City team, said, “I hope there’s a good Honduran crowd. I know a lot of them are unhappy or I heard, at least. I don’t know why they’re upset. We know who Boca Juniors is. I don’t know how good or bad, but they’re one of the top teams with the most titles in the world. Obviously, it’s going to be a really good game for us to prepare to play Cuba.”

Espinoza played a large role in Honduras’ surprising showing in the Olympics. Honduras got taken out by silver medalist Brazil, but in a back-and-forth match it led and generally outplayed Brazil for most of the 90 minutes despite losing a player to a pair of first-half yellow cards.

Moscariello also said it was “very possible” Boca Juniors would be back for the Miami Soccer Challenge at Marlins Park. Organizers announcing the event two weeks ago put the date at Jan. 2 or 3. They couldn’t name the teams but said Boca Juniors had been one of the teams contacted.