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US back on track with Honduras win

Los Angeles (AFP) – The United States reignited their World Cup qualifying campaign on Wednesday with a 3-0 victory over Honduras.

Goals from Weston McKennie, Walker Zimmerman and Christian Pulisic secured all three points for the USA at a frozen Allianz Field in St.Paul, Minnesota. 

The victory leaves the USA with 21 points from 11 games, one behind CONCACAF qualifying leaders Canada, who were playing in El Salvador later Wednesday after defeating the USA on Sunday.

With three games remaining, the US look well-positioned to grab one of the three automatic World Cup qualifying berths available for teams from Central America, North America and the Caribbean.

The team finishing in fourth place faces a play-off against the winner of the Oceania qualifying tournament.

Elsewhere Wednesday, Costa Rica kept their qualifying hopes alive with a 1-0 away win over Jamaica in Kingston.

The victory leaves Costa Rica in fifth with 16 points, just behind Panama (17 points) who were playing Mexico later.

In St.Paul, temperatures at kick-off were around 3 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 Celsius), prompting the USA and Honduras players to wrap up in gloves, balaclavas and thermal jerseys.

USA goalkeeper Matt Turner was ordered to remove a thermal handwarmer strapped to his waist by Jamaican referee Oshane Nation shortly after kick-off.

It was not long before the USA warmed their fans however with the hosts taking the lead after just eight minutes.

Kellyn Acosta’s free-kick from the right was met with a well-timed header from Juventus’s McKennie, who glanced home at the near post for 1-0.

Another Acosta set-piece set up the second US goal on 37 minutes. This time the Los Angeles FC midfielder curled in a teasing free-kick from the left flank that caused havoc in the Honduras defence.

The ball fell kindly for US skipper Zimmerman, who shrugged off his marker and bundled in a low finish.

Chelsea forward Pulisic, who had been left on the bench by US coach Gregg Berhalter, added the third on 68 minutes two minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Timothy Weah’s corner was helped on by Zimmerman and Pulisic rammed home a low finish for 3-0. 

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