U.S. beats Honduras to pick up three crucial points


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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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, firing 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.

The result kept the U.S. in second place of CONCACAF’s octagonal round of qualifying, but it now moves within one point of leader Canada, and three points ahead of third-placed Mexico. Both teams are in action later Wednesday night, the Canadians traveling to sixth-place El Salvador and El Tri hosting Panama, who occupy fourth place in the table and are on course for a playoff with the winner of Oceania for a place at Qatar 2022.

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