Herculez Gomez speaks about Gregg Berhalter’s decision to bench Christian Pulisic in the USMNT’s 3-0 win. (1:28)
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The United States men’s national soccer team bounced back from Sunday’s disappointing defeat to Canada to stroll to a comfortable 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Honduras on Wednesday night in Minnesota’s frigid capital city.
Goals from Weston McKennie, Walker Zimmerman and second-half substitute Christian Pulisic lifted the U.S. to a second win of this international break. The Americans were rarely threatened, and were unlucky not to pad the scoreline further.
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“It was freezing out here. I’m looking forward to getting into the locker room,” Pulisic said after the match.
McKennie gave the hosts an early lead, directing a Kellyn Acosta free kick into the bottom right corner just eight minutes into the contest, bringing to life the announced crowd of 19,202 who braved the subzero temperatures at Allianz Field.
The U.S. looked primed to double its advantage in the 26th minute, when Timothy Weah and Ricardo Pepi both had point-blank chances in quick succession, but were denied by goalkeeper Luis Lopez. Three minutes later, another chance came Pepi’s way, but the 19-year-old FC Augsburg forward’s falling side volley from an Antonee Robinson cross soared over the bar.
The second goal would arrive eventually, though, courtesy of another Acosta set piece. In the 37th minute, the LAFC midfielder’s delivery missed its near-post target, but fell to the feet of Zimmerman in the six-yard box, and the captain on the night turned and slotted home the goal to make it 2-0.
Pulisic was named to the substitutes’ bench prior to kickoff, having been held without a direct contribution to goal in 155 minutes of action against El Salvador and Canada this international window, but came on to replace Jordan Morris in the 65th minute and quickly made an impact.
After just three minutes on the pitch, the U.S. No. 10 pounced on a loose ball in the area following another set piece, and fired into the far corner to make it a 3-0 lead for the Americans. It was Pulisic’s first goal with the national team since a 2-0 win over Mexico in November and his 18th tally in his career for the senior men’s team.
“It was a great performance from the team today to get a really important three points,” Pulisic said. “It was my job to come in and make a difference, and I’m glad I could do that.”
After scoring no goals off set pieces in the first 10 qualifiers, the U.S. scored three in their match against Honduras.
The result kept the U.S. in second place of CONCACAF’s octagonal round of qualifying and still trails Canada, who beat El Salvador later on Wednesday, by four points. The Americans are level on points with third-placed Mexico but ahead on goal difference after El Tri’s win against in the day’s last CONCACAF qualifying match..
Panama occupies fourth place in the table and are on course for a playoff with the winner of Oceania Football Confederation for a spot at Qatar 2022.
The Americans played without Tyler Adams and Chris Richards, both of whom were injured against Canada. The U.S. team is also still missing midfielder Gio Reyna, sidelined by a hamstring injury sustained in the opening qualifier at El Salvador on Sept. 2.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
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