Arena makes 7 lineup changes in tropical heat of Honduras

Sheri Evans
September 6, 2017

El Tri booked a ticket to the World Cup with three matches left to play in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Hexagonal round, and although qualification wasn't exactly a cakewalk (it required a hard-fought win in Columbus against the USA last November and a narrow 1-0 victory over Panama at Estadio Azteca) it was still a completely different experience from four years ago when the team barely scraped through the Hex and only made it to Brazil by beating New Zealand in an intercontinental playoff.

The U.S.is still in the top three in the hexagonal with two games to go against the two "easiest" teams in Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. A point means the Americans keep their advantage over Honduras in the standings, and they know that two wins from their final two games will see them qualify for the World Cup.

Had the US lost Tuesday, it would have dropped to fifth in the six-team standings.

Like Costa Rica last Friday, Honduras succeeded by frustrating, and fouling when necessary or not, to stifled the USA and disrupt any glimpses of rhythm.

Honduras vs USMNT in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying at 5:30pm on beIN Sport. With the USA losing their opening two CONCACAF Hexagonal World Cup Qualifying fixtures to Mexico and Costa Rica, thus completing the final chapter of Jurgen Klinsmann's rocky reign as manager, the fear of missing out on Russian Federation 2018 possessed a concerning amount of legitimacy.

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Romell Quioto scored in the 27th minute for Honduras and the home side appeared headed for victory until Kellyn Acosta's free kick was saved by Honduran goalkeeper Luis Lopez. It looks lost too often in games, including for a healthy chunk of Tuesday's draw in Honduras. The U.S. fans inside the ground and watching around the country were ecstatic. Just three minutes in the Yanks looked more coordinated than they had against Costa Rica. But they gave us a hard time.

They went to great lengths, over several years, to woo Jurgen Klinsmann and provide him everything he said he needed in the quest for a definitive, transformative leap forward on the global stage. But Honduras absorbed the pressure well and held the Yanks at bay in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. When that failed to generate any additional offense, Nagbe came off in favor of Bobby Wood. Dempsey pounced on the ball and blasted a risky cross to Wood, who was lurking near the far post.

Besler and Omar Gonzalez are paired in central defense for the fourth time in 2017. Honduras cleared it away, but the sequence provided a glimmer of hope for an anemic USA offense. Whether it's a three-man back line, a single-forward system or the attack-minded 4-4-2 he fielded against the Ticos. Whatever the result, both teams will nearly certainly play in the World Cup next summer.

The U.S. should consider themselves fortunate after Tuesday's late goal.

. They will need to play inspired soccer if they hope to come out of Honduras will all three points.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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