In a game that was very nearly a repeat of last week’s nightmare in New Jersey, the United States Men’s National Team managed to come away with a point in a 1-1 draw at Honduras on a late strike by Bobby Wood. It was a game which many will say the Stars & Stripes were lucky to get a point out of, but nevertheless, they remain in third place in the Hexagonal.
The USMNT started well, with Christian Pulisic getting free down the right side of the Honduran defense several times, and generally looking dangerous and lively whenever he touched the ball. In the third minute Jordan Morris rolled a shot just wide of the post following a Clint Dempsey layoff after a Pulisic cross. Darlington Nagbe also looked as if he had put last Friday’s game behind him as he too looked lively in the early going. With a quarter of an hour gone he played a clever ball into the back post that the Honduran defense did well to deal with.
Both teams came out very physically to start the game, with several chippy fouls going both ways and the referee content to let the boys play within reason. The challenges would continue to fly and the referee finally had enough as he booked Jorge Carlos and Henry Figueroa in the 17th and 23rd minutes, respectively.
Sadly, much like in last week’s game against Costa Rica, the USMNT’s good start was all for naught with Romell Quioto breaking the deadlock in the 28th minute. The writing had been on the wall as well, with Quioto and Alberth Elis both going close in the minutes leading up to the goal. In the first half Honduras was having all kinds of luck down the right side of the U.S. defense, where converted right back Graham Zusi was deployed. He lost his man on more than one occasion and was also partly to blame for the Quioto goal, although Omar Gonzalez didn’t exactly cover himself in glory with his attempted clearance.
The U.S. also started the second half well, pushing forward with energy and numbers, with Pulisic leading the charge on more than one occasion. Once again though, as the half progressed, Honduras found its footing and grew back into the game, as Los Catrachos came close to creating chances on several occasions. In the 62nd minute, Arena looked to change the game with a double substitution, with Paul Arriola coming on for DaMarcus Beasley and Geoff Cameron replacing Graham Zusi, as the U.S. switched to a three at the back formation. The last roll of the dice came in the 73rd with Wood coming on to replace Darlington Nagbe, who had largely faded from the game.
While the middle part of the second 45 minutes were a bit cooler, with fewer chances and opportunities for both teams, things began to heat up again around the 75th minute. Dempsey either mishit a volleyed shot or hit a beautiful cross that took a timely Honduran intervention to keep it from reaching the newly subbed on Wood. A minute later, Anthony Lozano scuffed a shot in a good area that only rolled to Brad Guzan, but warning signs were beginning to show. While the U.S. looked to be trying to press forward and grab an equalizer, the Hondurans seemed more than content to play on the counter-attack, trying to catch the U.S. with too many men up the field and grab a second goal to kill off the game.
In the 85th minute, the USMNT’s attacking intent finally paid off. Following a good spell of possession around the Honduran box, Pulisic was fouled. While Lopez saved the free kick from Kellyn Acosta, Wood was on hand to chest the ball down and slam it into the net following a smart pass from Jordan Morris after the rebound.
Both teams then looked to press forward and try to find a winner, trading spells of possession in each other’s halves.
As the clock hit 92 minutes, Henry Figueroa was given a second yellow for some “extra-curricular activities” after a Honduran free kick, as frustration at conceding a late equalizer seemed to get to him. With only three minutes of stoppage time signaled, the sending off essentially killed the game, as it finished 1-1.
If you had asked a lot of fans before the game, they might have been content with a draw in San Pedro Sula, considering the heat, travel conditions, and previous U.S. record when playing in the city. However, the nature of the one point the Yanks earned will do little to quell the worries that emerged out of the loss to Costa Rica. No doubt lots of work will need to be done before the final round of qualifying in just a little over a month.
That next game? It’s at Orlando City Stadium against Panama on Oct. 6.