It was a game the United States did not need to win but one they dared not lose. And Bobby Wood rescued a point – and with it his country’s World Cupqualifying hopes – with a dramatic late equalizer against Honduras on Tuesday.
Wood, a second-half substitute, pounced on a loose ball in the 85th minute, after Kellyn Acosta’s powerful free-kick caused havoc in the Honduras penalty area, to spare USA blushes.
For now the USA stay above Honduras in the third and final automatic qualifying spot for Russia 2018 and while they may fall below Panama, who take on lowly Trinidad and Tobago later on Tuesday, their World Cup hopes remain in their hands. Just.
Victory over Panama and Trinidad in their final two games will seal a berth at an eighth consecutive World Cup. Even if they slip to fourth place in their group, a play-off against Australia or Syria awaits.
For much of their game against Honduras, the USA were outplayed and appeared on the brink of a disastrous defeat after Romell Quioto’s first-half opener. But Wood came to USA’s rescue at the death. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective.
Arena himself admitted as much.
“That’s a huge point for the US team,” he said afterwards. “The conditions were challenging for both teams. I’m really proud of our team.
“The point is a point on the road and it takes two away from a team we’re competing with for the World Cup. It’s a huge point.”
“I think it shows the mentality of our team, we knew that we had to get a result down here. Credit to Bobby, he came in and scored a nice goal” Morris added.
“As a team we worked really hard the whole game. Obviously we would have loved three points but a point is big for us down here.”
USA World Cup Hexagonal Schedule:
Oct. 6, 2017: USA vs. Panama
Oct. 10, 2017: Trinidad and Tobago vs. USA