Bobby Wood came through when it counted for the U.S. (Jeff Swinger/USA TODAY Sports)
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — The United States averted a major disaster Tuesday.
Staring down their second World Cup qualifying loss in five days, the Americans managed to walk out of at Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano with a 1-1 tie.
Late-match substitute Bobby Wood struck in the 85th minute to lift the Red, White and Blue and give his side a valuable road point, especially after the U.S. dropped a disappointing 2-0 decision to Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena Friday night.
The result kept the Americans (2-3-3, 9 points) in third place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal, pending on the result of a later match between Panama (1-2-4, 7) and Trinidad & Tobago (1-6-0, 3). Honduras (2-3-3, 9) remained in fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal because the U.S. enjoys the superior goal differential (plus one to minus seven).
U.S. captain Michael Bradley called the draw a “huge point.”
“This is what qualifying is all about,” he told reporters. “There are so many days that are not pretty. Honestly, it is nothing to do with football. It’s finding a way to survive. It’s never been easy, it’s never going to be easy. You have to have a collective mentality and spirit.”
“It was tough,” U.S. forward Jordan Morris told beIN Sports. “Lots of credit to them. They made it tough. It shows the mentality of the team. We had to get a result. I would have loved three points, but I’ll take one point.”
Los Catrachos made life difficult for the visitors for most of the match, disrupting the Americans’ attack and playing solid defense.
U.S. head coach made seven lineup changes from Friday night’s loss.
The U.S. took advantage of a long Kellyn Acosta free kick that goalkeeper Luis Lopez made a spectacular stretched save on. The Hondurans were unable to clear. Defender Matt Besler got control on the left side of the penalty area and sent the ball to Morris, who flicked it onto Wood.
Wood, who came on for Darlington Nagbe in the 73rd minute, slotted the ball home past Lopez for the equalizer.
“That’s the type of mentality we have as a team,” Wood said. “We’re fighting until the last minute. I’m glad I was able to help the team. That’s all that matters.”
In the 27th minute, Romell Quito latched onto a through ball by Alexander Lopez on the left flank and while U.S. center back Omar Gonzalez missed the ball, the Honduran midfielder powered a shot past goalkeeper Brad Guzan for a 1-0 advantage.
Honduras finished with 10 men after Henry Figueroa was assessed his second yellow card of the match three minutes into second-half stoppage time.
The Americans have two matches remaining in the hex. They host Panama in Orlando Oct. 6 and visit Trinidad Oct. 10.
“We know we have a lot of work left to do but it keeps it in our hands,” Morris said.
Added U.S. head coach Bruce Arena: “That’s a huge point for the U.S. team. The conditions were challenging for both teams. I’m really proud of our team.
“I’m sure the Honduran team is disappointed. … Welcome to World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF.”
HON – Romell Quioto (Alex López) 27th minute
USA – Bobby Wood (Jordan Morris) 85
USA: 12-Brad Guzan; 19-Graham Zusi (20-Geoff Cameron, 63), 3-Omar González, 5-Matt Besler, 7-DaMarcus Beasley (21-Paul Arriola, 62); 16-Kellyn Acosta, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.); 10-Christian Pulisic, 8-Clint Dempsey, 6-Darlington Nagbe (9-Bobby Wood, 73); 17-Jordan Morris
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 22-Nick Rimando, 2-Jorge Villafaña, 11-Alejandro Bedoya, 13-Dax McCarty, 14-Tim Ream, 15-Eric Lichaj, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 23-Fabian Johnson
Head coach: Bruce Arena
HON: 1-Luis López; 21-Brayan Beckeles, 4-Henry Figueroa, 3-Maynor Figueroa (capt.), 5-Ever Alvarado; 17-Alberth Elis, 8-Alfredo Mejía, 10-Alex López (13-Carlo Costly, 64), 20-Jorge Claros, 12-Romell Quioto (14-Oscar García, 66); 9-Antony Lozano (23-Johnny Palacios, 82)
Subs not used: 18-Ricardo Canales, 16-Carlos Lanza, 22-Donis Escober, 19-Carlos Sánchez, 7-Carlos Discua, 15-Sergio Peña, 11-Eddie Hernández, 6-Bryan Acosta, 2-Felix Crisanto
Head coach: Jorge Luis Pinto
Stats Summary: USA / HON
Shots: 9 / 11
Shots on Goal: 4 / 6
Saves: 5 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 4
Fouls: 17 / 14
Offside: 1 / 2
HON – Jorge Claros (caution) 17th minute
HON – Henry Figueroa (caution) 23
USA – DaMarcus Beasley (caution) 36
USA – Kellyn Acosta (caution) 61
HON – Henry Figueroa (caution) 90+2
HON – Henry Figueroa (sent off) 90+3
Referee: Joel Aguilar (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: William Torres (SLV)
Fourth Official: Mario Escobar (GUA)
Man of the Match: Kellyn Acosta