USMNT’s three keys vs. Honduras: Pick a striker, find depth defensively in middle and get Tim Weah minutes


The United States men’s national team will try to bounce back from a 2-0 loss at Canada when Wednesday night against Honduras in the final game of this triple-fixture international window. The Americans remain in second place in the Concacaf World Cup qualifying table, but Mexico and Panama are on their heels with Costa Rica not far behind. Failure to win this game could put Gregg Berhalter’s side in a tricky situation with only three qualifiers left after this one to punch their ticket to Qatar. The Stars and Stripes have failed to score multiple goals in each of their past four games, including three qualifiers and a friendly.

Ahead of Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff (under frigid conditions in St. Paul, Minnesota), here are three keys for Berhalter and his team as they aim to get back on track:

1. Please, chose a striker and stick with it

I’m fully expecting Ricardo Pepi to start this match, and I’ll tell you why that is an issue. It’s the right call in terms of the player, but that would make it three different strikers starting these three games. I get having a rotation, but what’s the thought process here for Berhalter? It is so important to get these guys the most minutes as possible with the likes of Christian Pulisic and company, as Berhalter looks to build momentum entering the World Cup … if they make it. Starting Jesus Ferreira, Gyasi Zardes and then potentially Ricardo Pepi does not help in any way. Maybe it will assist him in deciding that the first two shouldn’t be anywhere near the starting lineup, but if Pepi’s three-month goal drought continues, then we will sort of be back to where we started qualifying — wondering who in the world is the striker of this team. 

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2. Figure out who replaces Adams

Tyler Adams will miss this match with a hamstring injury, which means Kellyn Acosta will likely get the nod, and that’s a massive drop-off to the squad. Acosta, who recently secured a move from Colorado to LAFC, does not offer the same defensive capabilities as Adams, who has been rock steady for this squad in the middle. He had played at least 83 minutes in all but one qualifier entering the Canada game, and he consistently completes well over 80% of his passes and often 90. Adams has also won well over 50% of his duels, including over 75% in the four games before the last match. If Acosta does not look sharp in the early stages of this match, don’t be surprised if Weston McKennie drops a little deeper.

3. Get Weah more minutes

After being unable to travel to Canada due to the country’s vaccination requirements, a well-rested Tim Weah should be in line for some serious minutes. He needs these minutes as well, because he has been a bright spot for this team over the past few months, including scoring that important goal at Jamaica. His versatility — being able to play forward and on either wing — will allow him to potentially shift around and find space against a Honduras team that lacks discipline. 

He’s likely a substitute when Gio Reyna comes back from injury, but he has been able to show some consistency and creativity. After not playing against Canada, this will be another chance to leave an impression against what is the worst defense in Concacaf. 





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