Pulisic on bench for record-cold U.S. qualifier


Christian Pulisic was not in the starting XI as United States coach Gregg Berhalter changed seven starters for Wednesday night’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras in chilly St. Paul, Minnesota, where the temperature at kickoff was forecast for 3-4 degrees Fahrenheit.

A wind chill of about minus-14 was predicted.

The previous low for a U.S. home game was 29 degrees in a win over Mexico at the old Columbus Crew Stadium in February 2001, the Snow Clasico victory over Costa Rica at Commerce City, Colorado, in March 2013 and the 1-0 win over El Salvador at lower.com Field in Columbus last Thursday.

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Right-back Reggie Cannon, central defender Walker Zimmerman, midfielders Kellyn Acosta, Jordan Morris, Luca de la Torre and Timothy Weah, and forward Ricardo Pepi entered the starting lineup. The holdovers were goalkeeper Matt Turner, defender Miles Robinson, left-back Antonee Robinson and midfielder Weston McKennie.

Pulisic, the top U.S. player, had subpar performances in the 1-0 win over El Salvador and the 2-0 loss at Canada. The Americans, who could sorely use a win against Honduras, are second in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table with 18 points, four behind Canada and ahead of rivals Mexico on goal difference.

Midfielder Tyler Adams and defender Chris Richards got hurt during Sunday’s defeat. Moving on the bench along with Pulisic were right-back Sergino Dest, midfielders Yunus Musah and Brenden Aaronson, and forward Gyasi Zardes.

Under the U.S. Soccer Federation’s cold weather guidelines, the area fell in the black zone, termed “extreme conditions.” The federation guidelines recommend: “Cancel or attempt to move activities indoors. Frostbite could occur.”

The USSF supplied the team compression shirts and tights from the company that supplies the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears along with Nike Hypertherm headcovers and gloves, handwarmers, in-sole warmers and a quarterback pouch for goalkeepers, also provided by the Vikings.

There were heated vests for potential substitutes, a heated bench and seat warmers plus overhead heat and topical heating cream along with hot air pumped in at feet level.

The USSF provided thermal headcoverings to Honduras, and also gave the match officials thermal underwear and head coverings.

Berhalter, who helped choose the site, said shortened travel during the three-game FIFA window and ensuring a pro-U.S. crowd were primary factors. He repeatedly has said the weather did not present an obstacle and his players should embrace the conditions.

FIFA did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Asked about the location after the advance forecast was issued, the governing body said on Jan. 20: “While the safety and security of all individuals involved in football will always be FIFA’s priority, major club and national-team competitions are played in different climates across all confederations and the FIFA World Cup qualifiers are no exception.”

Nicholas Noble, spokesman for CONCACAF, the governing body of North and Central America and the Caribbean, said in September: “World Cup qualifiers is a FIFA competition. CONCACAF does not manage or run these matches, FIFA does, along with the individual federations.”

De la Torre was making his first international start and fifth appearance, and Cannon his first qualifying start. Morris, back from a torn ACL, made his second qualifying start and first since Sept. 5, 2017, at Honduras.

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