The U.S. men’s national team moved a step closer to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with a dominant 3-0 win over Honduras in frigid Minnesota weather.
The Americans got off to a great start with a Weston McKennie set-piece header inside 10 minutes, and then they put the game out of reach just before halftime. Star forward Christian Pulisic came off the bench in the final 25 minutes to get a goal that helped the USA pad its goal difference, which could come into play as a tiebreaker in a case the Americans are even with other teams in the standings.
The USA now sits in second place on 21 points and an automatic berth to the 2022 World Cup is very much within reach in the final three qualifying matches that will be played in March. Two of those games will be road trips at Mexico and Costa Rica with a home game against Panama that could turn out to be the clincher or a World Cup qualifying celebration.
MORE: Updated CONCACAF qualifying standings, results & schedule
Honduras was already eliminated heading into the match, rooted in last place in the qualifying table. Outside of a brief spell of 20 minutes following the USA’s goal, the Catrachos were never really in the game. And when the USA brought in fresh legs in attack, the visitors had all they could do to prevent the USA from expanding the margin of victory.
“For us, we want to stay first or second in this window… We are in a good position going into the last round.”
Gregg Berhalter discusses the team’s performance and what he expects from @USMNT moving forward 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/38YOjjGWz6
The match didn’t feature many spectacular passages of play, but it will be remembered most for the severe weather conditions which included temperatures that dipped into negative territory with the windchill. U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner tried to get away with using a hand warmer tied around his waste (the referee made him remove it) and two Honduran players were reportedly treated for hypothermia (the starting goalkeeper and Romell Quioto).
Two Honduran players treated for hypothermia and had to come out of the game.
USA — Weston McKennie (Kellyn Acosta) — 8th min.
USA — Walker Zimmerman (Kellyn Acosta) — 37th min.
USA — Christian Pulisic (Walker Zimmerman, Ricardo Pepi) — 67th min.
(All times Eastern)
Minnesota soccer fans are different 💪🥶 pic.twitter.com/xt8KBEzQdd
88th min.: The USA scores another but it’s called back for offside. Brenden Aaronson was offside so Christian Pulisic’s goal is disallowed.
84th min.: SUB — Cristian Roldan in for Weston McKennie, who goes straight into the locker room.
83rd min.: Break in the action and there’s Gregg Berhalter taking a photo with fans … during the game.
Always got time for the fans. pic.twitter.com/cbRCJ88mEX
gregg berhalter taking a pic DURING THE GAME what is happening USMNT MADNESS pic.twitter.com/2ynkVmbv05
79th min.: USA penalty shout! VAR takes some time to look at it but there wasn’t much to the Brenden Aaronson fall in the box.
75th min.: SUBS — Brenden Aaronson and Jesus Ferreira come in for Ricardo Pepi and Tim Weah. The USA wants to pad that goal difference figure.
67th min.: GOAL USA — And the substitute scores! Pulisic scores the USA’s third.
. @cpulisic_10 ‘s 18th #USMNT goal. 3-0. pic.twitter.com/34WaM9e3Hk
64th min.: SUB — And here’s Christian Pulisic coming on for Jordan Morris.
Pulisic enters the game for the @USMNT pic.twitter.com/REeq9Bpn1j
61st min.: SUB — Honduras makes a fourth sub already, bringing on Devron Garcia for Kevin Lopez. And Christian Pulisic is apparently coming on soon for the USA.
60th min.: Great sportsmanship by Tim Weah, knocking the ball out of play with the goalkeeper on the ground with a head injury (a previous Weah shot struck the ‘keeper in the head).
58th min.: The USA will not be content until it gets that third. The American forwards are battling hard. Tim Weah and Jordan Morris fight to win the ball back and Ricardo Pepi is the beneficiary for a shot that finishes wide.
56th min.: The USMNT in total control. So much so that goalkeeper Matt Turner has to stay warm by doing sprints while he’s waiting to be called into action.
Poor Matt Turner. #USAvHON pic.twitter.com/X6W8QjY7Jn
50th min.: Strong start from the USA. Great combination play between Weston McKennie and Tim Weah and it’s Weah who gets the shot off, forcing a save.
Wes and Tim, just vibing.
Looking for No. 3. #USAvHON x @VW pic.twitter.com/LdhgsW58gr
46th min.: The second half is underway and Honduras makes three changes, including the goalkeeper. Romell Quioto is out of the game.
Halftime: That’s the way Gregg Berhalter drew up that first half. Early goal, solid defending and a second just before halftime. If Honduras showed any fight to start the first half, the visitors looked deflated after conceding the second. It’s looking like the second half has more U.S. goals in it.
More first half goals than Minnesota has degrees 🔥🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/fQb3mLC9Uq
46th min.: Another set piece opportunity for the USA and Walker Zimmerman had a free header. These set pieces have done in Honduras so far.
37th min.: GOAL USA — And on the set piece, the USA scores. Kellyn Acosta with the delivery into the box and the ball reaches Zimmerman in the box with his back to goal and he spins and scores. Honduras wanted a foul but the goal stands.
Another set piece, another GOAL for the @USMNT 🔥 @thewalkerzim sends it home for the 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/2hxLMjDHFn
36th min.: YELLOW CARDS — Wisdom Quaye gets a yellow for a foul on Luca de la Torre. Mejia gets a yellow for protesting the call.
33rd min.: There’s an injury break and Matt Turner runs to the sideline to wrap himself in a blanket. It’s that cold.
This man is in the middle of playing a senior World Cup qualifier. pic.twitter.com/Z3w6Z8RT5F
V much here for grown up swaddles pic.twitter.com/08Oh0BsQ5v
29th min.: Ricardo Pepi tries the scissors kick in the box. The U.S. midfield is providing service in this game. Gregg Berhalter’s lineup choices have been spot on thus far.
26th min.: USA chance! Kellyn Acosta feeds Tim Weah in behind and both Weah and Ricardo Pepi get looks crashing the goal, but the Honduras goalkeeper and a fellow defender get in the way.
What a pass by @LAFC ‘s Kellyn Acosta to set up this chance for the @USMNT 🎯 pic.twitter.com/43oVHgqm1a
20th min.: A Tim Weah shot stopped by the Honduras goalkeeper, but no corner kick given. The refs didn’t see the touch.
Espectacular el Buba López con el atajadón para salvar a la H del segundo 😱
🔴 EN VIVO
📺 TUDN y @univision
📲👉 https://t.co/Wlrqh98Ct2 pic.twitter.com/P8ULH9GQhN
17th min.: Ricardo Pepi needs some treatment after taking an arm to the face. Most of the action taking place in the USA’s half of the field. Honduras is battling hard, but there will be space for the USA if it can organize a counter.
14th min.: Choppy start to this game, but Honduras attempting a response. Honduras star Alberth Elis slips in the box before a cross and then Maynor Figueroa tries to test U.S. ‘keeper Matt Turner from distance. The visitors are still in this game.
8th min.: GOAL USA — Weston McKennie heads a Kellyn Acosta free kick delivered into the box. USA leads 1-0. McKennie is so dangerous on set pieces.
THERE IT IS! @WMckennie puts the @USMNT on top! 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/yMnMcvOdzX
2nd min.: The Jamaican referee asks USMNT ‘keeper Matt Turner to remove the hand-warming pouch that was tied on his waste. Not permitted.
Matt Turner was told by the referee to remove the quarterback pouch. pic.twitter.com/8rQBupfXL1
Refs says no to @headdturnerr QB pouch, courtesy of the @Vikings . pic.twitter.com/VxKbo95qHa
1st min.: Underway in Minnesota. The USMNT kicks it off, fans are in the stands. So far looks like a normal game. Except for the temperature:
Suena el silbato
C / F #USAvHON pic.twitter.com/UxKxLaZw9u
7:25 p.m.: Lots of condensation coming out of players’ mouths as they sing:
Anthem time. #usmnt pic.twitter.com/lqeGigBotv
7:22 p.m.: A reason for USMNT fans to be optimistic:
Entering tonight, #USMNT has won all five games that Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson have started together, by a combined score of 12-1.
🇲🇽 W 2-0
🇯🇲 W 2-0
🇨🇦 W 1-0 (15 min. for Zim.)
🇲🇶 W 6-1
🇭🇹 W 1-0
6:57 p.m.: They eventually appeared on the field, but who can blame them for waiting a bit longer before coming out on the field.
#USMNT on the field for warmups. No sign of the Hondurans yet. pic.twitter.com/jRg5TLAaJ3
6:45 p.m.: In addition to the cold, this will be one of the big talking points from the match. Gregg Berhalter said the following in the pregame: “We think [Christian Pulisic] has a big role to play, just not in the first half.”
Confirmed from the USSF that Pulisic being dropped is a coach’s decision. Based on what I’ve been told, he’s not injured or anything. #usmnt
6:06 p.m.: We’re going to learn a few things tonight with the cold conditions in Minnesota, including what a muff is:
USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner will be allowed to wear this handwarmer during the match, as well.
Spokesperson said that the muff (yes, it’s called a muff) was given to the US by the Minnesota Vikings. pic.twitter.com/klcBWpEHTj
No Christian Pulisic against Honduras with Jordan Morris taking his place in the starting lineup. Tim Weah makes a return after missing the Canada match due to travel restrictions, while Ricardo Pepi gets a chance up front after his surprise benchings in each of the last two matches.
The USMNT also has to deal with injuries to two starters: Kellyn Acosta comes in for Tyler Adams in midfield, and Walker Zimmerman enters in place of an injured Chris Richards at center back. Zimmerman wears the captain’s armband with Pulisic not in the lineup.
MORE: Fans, media react to frigid temperatures in Minnesota
Sergino Dest has played sparing minutes for Barcelona of late and looked tired against Canada, so Reggie Cannon spells him at right back in a match against a weaker opponent.
USA starting lineup (4-3-3, left to right): 1-Matt Turner (GK) — 5-Antonee Robinson, 12-Miles Robinson, 3-Walker Zimmerman (capt.), 4-Reggie Cannon — 17-Luca de la Torre, 23-Kellyn Acosta, 8-Weston McKennie — 13-Jordan Morris, 18-Ricardo Pepi, 21-Tim Weah
USA subs (12): 19-Sean Johnson, 2-Sergiño Dest, 6-Yunus Musah, 7-Paul Arriola, 9-Gyasi Zardes, 10-Christian Pulisic, 11-Brendan Aaronson, 14-Cristian Roldan, 15-Sebastian Lletget, 16-Mark McKenzie, 20-Jesús Ferreira, 22-DeAndre Yedlin
Honduras is officially eliminated from contention, but ‘El Bolillo’ Gomez is going for a result in Minnesota with a 4-4-2 formation relying on the speed and improvisation of forwards Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto . A recall to the starting lineup was expected for veteran Maynor Figueroa along the backline. In midfield, Alfredo Mejia returns from his performance in the El Salvador match with attack-minded Edwin Rodriguez starting on the bench.
Honduras starting lineup (4-4-2, left to right): 22-Luis Lopez (GK) — 19-Omar Elvir, 15-Denil Maldonado, 3-Maynor Figueroa, 16-Wisdom Quaye — 14-Kevin Lopez, 8-Alfredo Mejia, 23-Diego Rodriguez, 6-Juan Delgado — 12-Rommel Quioto, 7-Alberth Elis (capt.)
Honduras subs (11): 1-Edrick Menjivar (GK), 18-Alex Guity (GK), 2-Allans Vargas, 4-Marcelo Santos, 5-Devron Garcia, 17-Franklin Flores, 20-Jorge Alvarez, 10-Edwin Rodriguez, 9-Antony Lozano, 11-Bryan Rochez, 21-Jonathan Rubio
Wednesday’s match between the United States and Honduras from St. Paul will be broadcast on FS1 (English) and Univision and TUDN (Spanish) in the USA.
MORE: USMNT transfer watch & done deals
It can also be streamed on fuboTV and new users can take advantage of a free 7-day trial .
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
The odds in this match are so skewed towards the United States that it’s hard to find genuine openings here without taking on risk.
Despite the recent struggles, there is no reason the USMNT won’t win, and it could even be a chance for it to take out some recent frustration. Christian Pulisic and the U.S. attack has been spotty at best over the last two matches, but a solid expected goals showing against El Salvador ( 2.98 xG ) gives hope for a better result.
Honduras has already been eliminated from contention, and therefore the equatorial nation could look to open things up more, instead of just sitting back and remaining compact. That should allow both sides to find more openings, and the goals could be flowing.
Pick: USA win & over 2.5 goals (-135)
Prediction: USA 3, Honduras 1