The U.S. Men’s National Team dropped to fourth place in their World Cup qualifying group after Panama beat Trinidad & Tobago 3-0 on Wednesday night. Earlier in the evening, the US earned an important point to remain in contention for third place in the Hex standings through Bobby Wood’s 85th minute equalizer that delivered a hard-fought 1-1 draw in sweltering conditions vs. Honduras.
The USA have picked up just one point out of a possible six in their two recent qualifiers, slipping out of the automatic qualification spots. Their next game is on October 6th against Panama in Orlando and it’s one that they must win to have any realistic chance of qualifying for next summer’s tournament in Russia.
Despite some good moments in the opening 15 minutes, the U.S. went behind in the 27th when Romell Quioto wrapped his close-range effort off the far, left post and into the net for a 1-0 lead that the hosts would carry into the break.
In the second half, the U.S. began brightly again, knowing that a result was a must to keep in touch with the final automatic qualifying spot for the 2018 World Cup. Still chasing an equalizer at the 60 minute mark, U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena began to shuffle his deck, bringing on Paul Arriola, Geoff Cameron and Wood, all of whom contributed a needed boost of energy.
As the minutes ticked down and the game opened up, a foul on Pulisic in the center of the Honduras half set the stage for the USA’s dramatic late equalizer. Kellyn Acosta sent a beautiful free kick toward the upper left corner, only see it denied by an acrobatic save from Honduras goalkeeper Luis López. However, the rebound was hooked back toward the goal mouth by a sprawling Matt Besler and Jordan Morris helped it on with a crucial flicked header that landed on Wood’s chest and the Hawaiian-born striker made no mistake from close range to give the USA a crucial point and 1-1 draw with his 85th minute strike.
Mexico are now assured of qualification after their 1-1 tie away to Costa Rica on Wednesday night. A win in one of their final two games would clinch second spot for the Costa Ricans.
Next on the Schedule: The MNT concludes the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying next month with that imperative home match against Panama on Oct. 6 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Fla. (7 p.m. ET; ESPN and Univision Networks), before traveling to face Trinidad and Tobago (kickoff time to be announced).
USA: 12-Brad Guzan; 19-Graham Zusi (20-Geoff Cameron, 63), 3-Omar González, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (21-Paul Arriola, 62); 16-Kellyn Acosta, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 10-Christian Pulisic, 8-Clint Dempsey, 6-Darlington Nagbe (9-Bobby Wood, 73); 17-Jordan Morris
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 22-Nick Rimando, 2-Jorge Villafaña, 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 13-Dax McCarty, 14-Tim Ream, 15-Eric Lichaj, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 23-Fabian Johnson
Head coach: Bruce Arena
HON: 1-Luis López; 21-Brayan Beckeles, 4-Henry Figueroa, 3-Maynor Figueroa (capt.), 5-Ever Alvarado; 17-Alberth Elis, 8-Alfredo Mejía, 10-Alex López (13-Carlo Costly, 64), 20-Jorge Claros, 12-Romell Quioto (14-Oscar García, 66); 9-Antony Lozano (23-Johnny Palacios, 82)
Subs not used: 18-Ricardo Canales, 16-Carlos Lanza, 22-Donis Escober, 19-Carlos Sánchez, 7-Carlos Discua, 15-Sergio Peña, 11-Eddie Hernández, 6-Bryan Acosta, 2-Felix Crisanto
Head coach: Jorge Luis Pinto