Playing its third World Cup qualifying match in seven days, the USA remains in second place in the Octagonal standings and will finish the night no lower than third, pending other results.
The U.S. will wrap up this World Cup qualifying cycle with three matches during the March international window, facing Mexico in Mexico City on March 24, taking on Panama in Orlando, Fla. on March 27 before closing the Final Round of World Cup qualifying at Costa Rica in San Jose on March 30.
Acosta’s well-weighted services on set pieces were the common denominator for all three scores. In the eighth minute, Acosta’s service from the right side found McKennie, who rose higher than his mark to head home the opening goal.
In the 37th minute, Acosta sent another free kick bouncing past a cluster of Hondurans and Zimmerman shielded it, spun around his defender and struck the ball from close range past sliding Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez.
Two minutes after entering as a second-half substitute, Pulisic slotted home the exclamation point in the 67th minute. Acosta once again delivered the service and a flicked header from Ricardo Pepi sent the ball across goal mouth. The ball bounced off Zimmerman and fell to Pulisic, who rifled home a first-time strike for his 18th career international goal, good for ninth in USMNT history.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter made seven changes from the starting lineup that faced Canada on Sunday and the changes paid dividends as the U.S. attack looked dangerous from the get-go.
The USA midfield dominated on the night, catalyzing the attack and covering plenty of ground despite the freezing temperatures. McKennie bossed the middle of the park with a number of nifty dribbles and tackles won, Acosta stroked a number of excellent passes into the final third on set pieces and in open play, while Luca de la Torre, making his first World Cup qualifying start, was a maven, winning balls and showing serious burst of speed to drive the ball forward.
Overall, the USA out-possessed Honduras 73-27 percent and outshot Los Catrachos 16-2 in a commanding performance. The USA had eight shots on goal while Honduras had zero.
After a strong performance against El Salvador in first game of this qualifying window, forward Tim Weah once again menaced the opponent on the right wing. He nearly added to the first-half scoring when he fired a hard-hit shot in the 20th that Lopez just got his fingertips on and in the 26th received a lovely ball from Acosta inside the box that he tried to backheel towards goal, but saw it stopped by the onrushing ‘keeper.
The attack didn’t slow down after the break and the U.S. nearly scored a third just minutes into the second half. Pepi had a header saved in the 49th, McKennie teed up Weah for a great chance saved by second half substitute goalkeeper Edrick Menjívar in the 50th and on the ensuing free kick, McKennie had another threatening header that was waved away for offside.
The U.S. attack made itself at home in the Honduran final third in the second half as goalkeeper Matt Turner ran sprints back and forth to stay warm during stoppages in play. He and the U.S. defense recorded their fifth shutout of the Octagonal as Turner has kept clean sheets in 11 of his 16 international caps.
Cristian Pulisic almost added another exclamation point in the 86th minute after as the USA burst down the right with the ball at the feet of forward Brenden Aaronson.
Midfielder Cristian Roldan then fired a shot from the six-yard line which saved by a Honduran defender covering for his off-the-line goalkeeper. Pulisic was first to the rebound, firing home the bouncing ball on the slide, but Aaronson was eventually deemed to have been offside on the initial run through, negating the goal.
USA: 1-Matt Turner; 4-Reggie Cannon, 3-Walker Zimmerman (Capt.), 12-Miles Robinson, 5-Antonee Robinson; 23-Kellyn Acosta, 17-Luca de la Torre, 8-Weston McKennie (14-Cristian Roldan, 84); 21-Tim Weah (11-Brenden Aaronson, 76), 18-Ricardo Pepi (20-Jesús Ferreira, 76), 13-Jordan Morris (10-Christian Pulisic, 64)
Substitutes not used: 19-Sean Johnson, 2-Sergiño Dest, 6-Yunus Musah, 7-Paul Arriola, 9-Gyasi Zardes, 15-Sebastian Lletget, 16-Mark McKenzie, 22-DeAndre Yedlin
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
HON: 22-Luis López (1-Edrick Menjívar, 46); 16-Wisdom Quaye, 15-Denil Maldonado, 3-Maynor Figueroa, 19-Omar Elvír; 14-Kevin López (5-Devon García, 61), 8-Alfredo Mejía, 6-Juan Delgado, 23-Diego Rodriguez (11-Bryan Róchez, 46); 7-Alberth Elis (Capt.), 12-Rommel Quioto (9-Antony Lozano, 46)
Substitutes not used: 18-Alex Güity, 2-Allans Vargas, 4-Marcelo Santos, 10-Edwin Rodríguez, 17-Franklin Flores, 20-Jorge Álvarez, 21-Jonathan Rubio
Head coach: Hernán Darío Gómez