An out-of-nothing 85th minute rebound goal for Bobby Wood gave the United States the 1-1 draw it needed to remain on the inside track to qualify for Russia 2018 in Honduras on Tuesday.
In a vacuum, this was a good result for the U.S. All points taken on the road during World Cup qualifying are good points, and San Pedro Sula in particular is a nightmarish place to play.
Per Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy, the U.S. has now gone unbeaten in three straight Hexagonal away games for the first time since 1997. That’s no small feet.
This wasn’t such a bad result in the big picture either. The U.S. remains the favorite to finish third in the Hex, with eminently winnable games against Panama and Trinidad and Tobago to close out the campaign in October.
But this wasn’t a pretty 90 minutes. They U.S. barely escaped in this game – one in which they were run off the field in the first half and looked ragged and shaken throughout. Bruce Arena has a big job ahead of him.
Here are the player ratings.
Brad Guzan, 6: Didn’t have a prayer on the goal, and while he wasn’t forced into any spectacular saves, he was solid under sustained pressure the rest of the day.
DaMarcus Beasley, 4: Worked his tail off, but was overpowered from the first minute by his Houston teammate Alberth Elis – a player fourteen years his junior.
Matt Besler, 7: The lone strong performer on the backline. Smooth defensively and in possession, and integral to keeping the play alive on Wood’s goal.
Omar Gonzalez, 3: Made several nice open field tackles, but his indecision on the goal was very nearly a killer.
Graham Zusi, 3: Faced with a difficult matchup in Romell Quioto, Zusi looked every bit the converted right back he is. DeAndre Yedlin was a big miss for these games.
Michael Bradley, 5: Put in the typical good shift defensively, but was largely marked out of the game – which was one of the main reasons the U.S. couldn’t keep the ball.
Kellyn Acosta, 7: Hard to think where the U.S. would have been without its young central midfielder in this one. Acosta covered a ton of ground in central midfield, slid over to right back in the second half, and belted in the free kick that resulted in Wood’s goal.
Darlington Nagbe, 4: Neither the conditions nor the game particularly suited Nagbe, who had limited space to operate and drifted out of the game.
Christian Pulisic, 5: Was full of energy and purpose, and – even if he was mostly stifled again here – that industry resulted the set piece that led to the equalizer.
Clint Dempsey, 5: Was inventive with the few touches he got, but never really found the game.
Jordan Morris, 6: Though there was some concern about his playing in the heat, Morris put in a worthwhile performance – getting involved as much as possible up top, and getting the crucial flick on Wood’s goal.
Paul Arriola, 6: Came on at a position he hasn’t played all summer and was strong. Becoming a very valuable player for this team.
Geoff Cameron, 7: Came on locked in and shored up the defense. If only he’d been half as good on Friday.
Bobby Wood, 8: Was brought on to find a goal, and find a goal he did – scoring the biggest U.S. goal since July 2014 and, perhaps, salvaging the country’s bid to qualify for an eighth straight World Cup finals.
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