The United States men’s national team got its first win of the World Cup qualifying cycle on Wednesday, coming from behind to beat Honduras 4-1 in San Pedro Sula. Staring a defeat in the face at half time, manager Gregg Berhalter was proactive this time around, making changes that ended up paying off. Substitute Antonee Robinson scored just minutes after coming on, fellow sub DeAndre Yedlin came off the bench and delivered a brilliant assist as Ricardo Pepi headed home the winner in the 75th minute in his world cup qualifying debut. The 18-year-old also recorded an assist on Brenden Aaronson’s goal to put the game away. The USA would then add a fourth right before the whistle.
Here’s the winning goal:
The win moves the red, white and blue to five points after three games, putting them back into good standing as qualifying continues next month. Anything but a win in this one would have seen a mountain more of pressure on manager Gregg Berhalter, but now he has some breathing room, some film to work with and much-needed confidence entering October.
While the U.S. ended up with the three golden points, the first half was all Honduras, despite only having a couple good looks on goal. DC United talent Andy Najar was the creative engine in the middle, at times making his markers look silly with his skill moves and turns. In front of a packed crowd in San Pedro Sula, it felt like the hosts were the most likely to get the opener, and that’s just what happened thanks to a header by Brayan Mora as the American defense was caught sleeping in the 27th minute.
In the second half, Berhalter made numerous changes, and the team quickly responded through Robinson’s fine finish inside the box in the 48th minute. From that moment on, the team grew with confidence and looked like the most likely team to take all of the points.
While the match was there for the taking, the U.S. looked improved and sharper with each minute. Even after star Christian Pulisic came off injured in the second half, the U.S. was on the front foot, came alive late and earned what may end up being a monumental victory.