Bobby Wood had his name written in most of the headlines following his 85th minute goal in Tuesday’s crucial 1-1 World Cup Qualifying draw at Honduras, but the vital equalizer was a true team effort, involving no less than six players on the field from start to finish.
Trailing late, the U.S. pushed the attack looking for the tying goal and earned a great opportunity when Christian Pulisic was fouled 27 yards out, almost dead center from goal.
There, Clint Dempsey and Kellyn Acosta stood over the ball. In the moment, the safe money might have been on Dempsey to take the free kick – he had scored one against Honduras to complete his hat trick back on March 24 and added another vs. Costa Rica in the Gold Cup Semifinal.
Having endured nearly 80 minutes in the blistering heat and despite his free kick prowess, the MNT’s joint all-time leading goal scorer deferred to his younger teammate.
“He just asked me how I was feeling about it, and I told him I wanted to go for it,” he told ussoccer.com
Acosta himself has found the back of the net twice on dead ball opportunities this year – once with FC Dallas in CONCACAF Champions League play vs. Pachuca on March 15, and again in the USA’s 2-1 friendly win against Ghana on July 1 in East Hartford.
“It’s something I’ve definitely been working on and I’ve had the confidence to strike it,” Acosta said. “I’ve been connecting well and making it hard on the ‘keepers.”
- READ MORE: Detailing the MNT's Latest WCQ Equalizers
Acosta lining up to take the strike sent a signal to his teammates.
“You immediately become alive because he’s really good at those types of free kicks,” said MNT defender Matt Besler. “The way that he’s able to get it up and over the wall makes it really hard for goalkeepers, so even if a ‘keeper is able to save it, more than likely he’s not going to be able to catch it.”
“That was in my head to start, just knowing that if Kellyn is able to get this on frame, it’s either going in or there’s probably going to be a rebound. I timed my run to try and get a yard or two on the guy that was marking me in case the ball did spill out.”
Acosta’s take didn’t disappoint, swinging his effort high to the right post where Honduras goalkeeper Luis López made a great acrobatic save with his left hand, and somewhat unnaturally pushing the ball back across the goal frame.
“At first I thought it hit off the crossbar,” Acosta said. “I think he just swatted at it – it was still a great save.”
The save ended up being favorable for the U.S. as three players – Besler, Jordan Morris and Wood - were overloaded on the left side. Besler was the closest to the rebound, and admitted that his eyes opened wide when at first sight of the spill, but had to change his mentality as he closed in.
“The way the ball bounced off the rebound, it actually had a lot of spin on it and was going out of bounds,” he said. “At that point, I made the split-second decision to try and kick the ball across the goal. I wasn’t trying to pick anyone out by any means, just trying to save it from going out of bounds, put it back across the goal and see what happens.”
Falling to the ground, Besler desperately flicked the ball up in the air, doing well enough to clear the challenge from substitute Johnny Palacios.
As the ball came back down to earth, Morris was there to meet it, rising above the challenge of Henry Figueroa to nod it on and keep the play alive.
“We knew that we needed a goal. It was just trying to keep the play going,” Morris said. “It came to me and I was just trying to flick it on to put it back into play.”
Wood followed the play all the way and found himself with a nice bit of space between Maynor Figueroa and Ever Alvarado just inside the six-yard box. As the ball fell to Wood, he cleverly chested down to gain more space, and the pure striker’s instinct came into play.
“Just finish the play,” Wood said of what he was thinking. “That’s it. Just finish the goal.”
The forward let it bounce before an outside of the foot volley with his right tucked shot past López and sent the 35,000 plus inside San Pedro Sula’s Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano into stunned silence as the U.S. celebrated the critical goal.
“I wasn’t looking for Bobby, but he was there where he needed to be,” Morris said.
“Bobby was in the right place at the right time, and he had enough composure to stick it in the back of the goal,” added Besler.
A team goal in the truest sense helped the U.S. leave Honduras with a point, and most importantly keep control of its World Cup qualifying destiny.Read more
With trademark resolve, the U.S. Men’s National Team capped off fighting through harsh conditions and the pressure of needing a result with Bobby Wood’s 85th minute equalizer, earning the side a vital road point in Tuesday’s 1-1 World Cup Qualifying draw in Honduras.
The tying strike was the sixth latest in the modern era, and just like the five that came before it, could prove essential to qualifying for the World Cup.
Have an affinity for the dramatic? Take a look back at the other late World Cup Qualifying strikes that came before (and after) Bobby’s:
Frankie Hejduk (88’) – 2-2 D at El Salvador on March 28, 2009
Visiting El Salvador on Matchday 2 of the Final Round of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a favored U.S. side trailed Los Cuscatlecos 2-0 in the 72nd minute, but through two unlikely sources the MNT clawed back to grab a 2-2 road draw. Five minutes after the second goal, 19-year-old substitute Jozy Altidore nodded home a floated cross from Frankie Hejduk to pull one back in the 77th minute.
With two minutes remaining in regulation, Hejduk, who was taking part in his fourth World Cup Qualifying cycle, played the hero when a corner kick to the near post was popped up by an El Salvador defender before he rose to head home at the back post.
Brian Ching (89’) – 1-1 D at Jamaica on Aug. 18, 2004
In the opening Semifinal Round match of 2006 qualifying, the U.S. found itself in a similar position to Tuesday’s game at Honduras: trailing 1-0 late and slightly frustrated played in the muggy, late summer heat of Kingston, Jamaica.
The attacking front of Landon Donovan and Brian McBride were unable to muster a goal, and U.S. head coach Bruce Arena made the decision to bring on a mostly-untested Brian Ching in the 61st minute. Ching tallied his first international goal in the 89th minute when a Cobi Jones cross from the right fell for Donovan, who slid a pass over to his former San Jose Earthquakes teammate before he buried it into the upper right corner.
In the end, that goal would help propel the U.S. to the top of the Semifinal Round standings, but it wouldn’t be the last time during the cycle where the MNT would need a late equalizer from an unlikely source…Read more
When Honduras midfielder Rommel Quioto delivered an expert finish in the 27th minute in Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifier in San Pedro Sula, the U.S. Men’s National Team faced a harsh reality.
Just four days after falling 2-0 at home to Costa Rica, the U.S. went into the locker room at halftime trailing once again. This time though things were different -- with a loss to Honduras, the U.S. would lose control of its own destiny to gain one of CONCACAF’s three automatic World Cup Qualifying berths.
“We’re coming out at halftime and we’re like, ‘We’ve got to get a goal if we really want a good shot of going to the World Cup,’” Jordan Morris said post-game. “You put it all on the line for 45 minutes to try and put yourself in a position to qualify for the World Cup.
“That’s all the motivation you really need.”
A tactical shift to a 3-5-2 helped the U.S. push the attack, and sure enough an aggressive foray by Christian Pulisic earned a free kick opportunity in the 85th minute. Kellyn Acosta lined up a 30-yard effort that appeared destined for the upper right corner, but an impressive diving save from Honduras ‘keeper Luis López kept it out of the net. As good as his save was, the deflection off his palm took an uncommon deflection back across the goal mouth towards the opposite post. On the endline, Matt Besler dug the ball out before Jordan Morris flicked it into the path of Bobby Wood, who chested it down before clinically burying his opportunity inside the six-yard-box.
Wood was able to recall his simple thought as the ball found him in the box: “Finish the play. That’s it. Finish the goal,” he said.
The finish culminated a pure team effort that brought a strong sense of relief, something that was evident in the way the players reacted.
“That’s the type of mentality we have as a team,” added the goal scorer. “We’re always fighting to the last minute, and that’s what we did.”
For a Honduran team that seemed to be riding a nice wave of momentum following Friday’s 2-1 win in Trinidad & Tobago, the goal was no doubt deflating.
“Clearly this was an important point for the U.S. team today,” MNT head coach Bruce Arena said following the match. “The conditions were quite challenging for both teams, and I’m really proud of our team, the way we hung in there and battled and walked off the field with a point. I’m sure the Honduran team is disappointed -- welcome to World Cup Qualifying in CONCACAF.”
U.S. captain Michael Bradley echoed Arena’s comments: “Huge point, great point -- this is what qualifying is all about. There’s so many days where it’s not pretty. Honestly, in a lot of moments it has nothing to do with football. It’s about finding a way to survive and dealing with everything that gets thrown at you, having a group that holds up in the toughest moments, taking three points when you can take three, finding a way to get one and keep other teams from getting three on other days. This is what it’s all about.”
Following Tuesday’s other results, the U.S. sits fourth in the six-team Final Round table with nine points, just one back of Panama for the region’s last automatic qualifying spot. Panama are up next for the USA on Oct. 6 in Orlando, a match that will be must-win if either team plans on claiming third place. Should the U.S. defeat Panama, it would set itself up to qualify with another win on the final matchday on Oct. 10 at last-place Trinidad & Tobago.
Asked if the U.S felt like it was in the door to get to Russia next summer, Arena responded, “The door for Russia -- there’s not even a crack open right now. There’s a lot of work to be done to get to Russia.”
“It’s never been easy,” Bradley added. “It’s never going to be easy, and we just have to keep going, but today was big time.”Read more
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (Sept. 5, 2017) – The U.S. Men’s National Team earned an important point to remain in third place in the Hex standings through Bobby Wood’s 85th minute equalizer that delivered a hard-fought 1-1 draw in sweltering conditions vs. Honduras.
Despite some good moments in the opening 15 minutes, the U.S. went behind in the 27th when Romell Quioto wrapped his close-range effort off the far, left post and into the net for a 1-0 lead that the hosts would carry into the break.
In the second stanza, the U.S. began brightly again, knowing that a result was a must to keep their hands on the final automatic qualifying spot for the 2018 World Cup. Still chasing an equalizer at the 60 minute mark, U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena began to shuffle his deck, bringing on Paul Arriola, Geoff Cameron and Wood, all of whom contributed a needed boost of energy.
As the minutes ticked down and the game opened up, a foul on Pulisic in the center of the Honduras half set the stage for the USA’s dramatic late equalizer. Kellyn Acosta sent a beautiful free kick toward the upper left corner, only see it denied by an acrobatic save from Honduras goalkeeper Luis López. However, the rebound was hooked back toward the goal mouth by a sprawling Matt Besler and Jordan Morris helped it on with a crucial flicked header that landed on Wood’s chest and the Hawaiian-born striker made no mistake from close range to give the USA a crucial point and 1-1 draw with his 85th minute strike.
Next on the Schedule: The MNT concludes the Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying next month with an imperative home match against Panama, Presented by Volpi Foods, on Oct. 6 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Fla. (7 p.m. ET; ESPN and Univision Networks), before traveling to face Trinidad and Tobago (kickoff time and TV info will be available on ussoccer.com at a later date).
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer;@ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram; Snapchat (ussoccer_mnt)
Goal Scoring Rundown:
HON – Romell Quioto (Alex Lopez), 27th minute: Alex Lopez played a long lead pass down the USA’s right flank for Quioto to chase. The ball evaded a last-ditch tackle by U.S. center back Omar Gonzalez and rolled to Quioto, who curled a shot from a wide angle around the well-positioned Brad Guzan and off the left post into the net. [WATCH]
USA – Bobby Wood (Jordan Morris), 85th minute: Pushing the game in the waning moments, the USA was awarded a free kick 27 yards from goal when Christian Pulisic suffered a hard foul. Kellyn Acosta stepped up to deliver a strong, curling effort that was destined for the upper right corner until López made a spectacular, one-handed, diving save. But the rebound was hooked back toward the right post by Besler, then headed on by Morris into the path of an unmarked Wood, who chested it down and tapped home with the outside of his right foot in one fluid move. [WATCH] FINAL
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Brad Guzan, 24th minute: Honduras attacked down the left sideline through Alberth Elis who was shadowed by Graham Zusi. The speedy Elis was able to escape and charged into the box but his low drive toward the bottom right corner was well held by Guzan.
HON – Luis López, 41st minute: Christian Pulisic carried the ball out of midfield into the final third before threading a pass to Jordan Morris at the top of the 18. Morris held the ball, drawing defenders to him before releasing Pulisic, who had continued his run, on goal but his snap shot from a wide angle was save by a sliding López.
USA – Brad Guzan, 44th minute: Honduras was awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal that was just off center to the right. Maynor Figueroa stepped up to blast a powerful drive toward the middle of goal, but Guzan was well positioned to punch the shot over the crossbar.
HON – Maynor Figueroa, 74h minute: After making its full complement of subs, the USA pushed the game and a deflected cross fell to Dempsey inside the box. He volleyed it across the face of goal, but Honduras captain Figueroa clear the ball behind the goal with Bobby Wood lurking dangerously behind him.
- The U.S. MNT is 16-4-5 all-time vs. Honduras, 6-2-2 in World Cup Qualifying and 3-1-2 in road qualifiers.
- Bruce Arena is 6-1-1 in eight all-time matches vs. Los Catrachos.
- Bobby Wood’s 85th minute equalizer was his first goal of 2017, ninth of his international career and fourth in World Cup Qualifying.
- Jordan Morris recorded his second career assist on Wood’s goal.
- Bruce Arena made seven changes to the Starting XI that faced Costa Rica on Friday, with midfielders Michael Bradley, Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic and defender Graham Zusi as the four holdovers.
- With the start, Clint Dempsey moved past Landon Donovan and into sole possession of first on the MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifying caps list with 41.
- Graham Zusi made his team-leading 13th appearance of 2017, which is also his career high for caps in a calendar year.
- The U.S. was without forward Jozy Altidore, who was serving a one-match suspension after receiving his second yellow card of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying vs. Costa Rica.
- Kellyn Acosta and DaMarcus Beasley picked up yellow cards, joining Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler, Michael Bradley Geoff Cameron and Clint Dempsey on caution watch heading into October’s qualifiers.
- Brad Guzan made his sixth start of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. The veteran goalkeeper is 8-2-4 in 15 previous qualifiers and has gone 3-2-4 on the road, helping the MNT pick up points in seven of nine matches.
- In order to get the gameday roster down to 23 players, defender Matt Hedges and midfielder Cristian Roldan did not dress for today’s match.
- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Honduras
Date: Sept. 5 , 2017
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Venue: Estadio Olímpico; San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 89 degrees; partly sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
HON 1 0 1
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)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Kellyn AcostaRead more