It was another tense evening for the United States Men’s National Team, but thanks to a late equaliser from Bobby Wood, it appears that the Americans have done enough to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
After Friday’s loss to Costa Rica, the Americans had little room for error against Honduras. Some adjustments were made to the starting lineup — most notably Clint Dempsey back in his starting slot and goalie Brad Guzan taking over between the posts after Tim Howard’s less-than-admirable performance during their last match.
For the majority of the game, fans of the Americans were biting their nails in fear. Honduras opened the scoring thanks to another disappointing defensive lapse. After going down early, Dempsey, Pulisic, and the rest of the USMNT’s offensive front looked uninspired throughout the game.
Thankfully, Bobby Wood broke through in the 85th minute, finding an equaliser in the messy aftermath of a free kick.
The draw gave the USMNT a point in the fifth round of qualifying, also known as “The Hex,” but the team still moved down to fourth in the table after Panama took three points against Trinidad and Tobago. Thankfully, both Panama and Honduras have tough tests remaining in the final two games of Hex play, while the Americans have a relatively easy schedule ahead by comparison. With two games to go, ESPN gives the USMNT a 70% chance to qualify.
While the Americans can exhale a bit thanks to Bobby Wood, there’s still work to be done in order to make the World Cup, and even more adjustments to make if the team has any hopes of making any sort of showing in Russia should they qualify.
Wins against Panama and Tinidad and Tobago to finish out their Hex schedule would put them through, and even with a draw against Panama the Americans could still qualify through a play-in game against another confederation. But the fact that the team has to work this hard and go through this many scares on the path to qualification is troubling.
With a combination of young talent like wunderkind Christian Pulisic as well as proven, ageing heroes of American soccer including Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Tim Howard, many hoped 2018 would be the year the USMNT finally broke through to make it past a quarterfinal. As it stands, the Americans have tons of adjustments to make it there, let alone be considered a threat against the world powers of soccer.
For now, the team needs to get to preparing for their final two games of the Hex, and hopefully show some more inspired play than we’ve seen in the past year.
The USMNT will take on Panama in another critical match in Orlando on October 6.
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