Bobby Wood's goal earns United States of America crucial point against Honduras

Bryan Ruiz will be Costa Rica's key player

Bryan Ruiz will be Costa Rica’s key player

In theory, Honduras should hold no fear for the Americans, who have a record of played 24, won 17, drawn four, lost three against Tuesday's opponents.

With three games left to play in The Hex, the USMNT now find themselves in third place, tied with Honduras at eight points each, with Clint Dempsey and company leading on goal differential.

It was a smash-and-grab result for the Yanks, who were outplayed for long stretches of the match.

With three games left in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, the United States was clinging to third place - the last automatic berth - and results later Friday could drop the USA down the standings. When Bruce Arena took over the US program, he inherited a team that lacked a true direction.

The top three finishers will automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, while the fourth-place squad will move on to seek a berth via the inter-confederation playoffs.

At the opening kickoff the ball came straight to the US captain, Michael Bradley. Amusing things can happen in CONCACAF play, particularly on the road in Central America.

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There were a few bright moments, certainly-especially in the opening minutes. Soon after Wood came in for Darlington Nagbe but as much as the US pushed, they could not break down the Honduras defence and, as they went for an equalizer, opened themselves up at the back. An attack that features plenty of talent - Christian Pulisic, Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Darlington Nagbe - looks disconnected, out of sorts and rarely creates the types of chances you would expect against teams it should dominate.

The U.S. men's national soccer team can breathe a bit easier after salvaging a tie in dramatic fashion on the road against Honduras on Tuesday, improving its chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

Sure, the United States still has some troubling issues, especially at center back.

Honduras held a 1-0 lead at the half when Romell Quioto scored in the 27th minute, putting a shot off the near post and in after USA central defender Omar Gonzalez missed a slide tackle as Quioto gained possession down the left wing. Quioto regained his composure a finished with a curler around Brad Guzan for a 1-0 lead. Los Catratchos had been pushing down both flanks with some success, targeting the Yanks' two offense-first fullbacks-Zusi and DaMarcus Beasley-deployed by Arena. But Wood came to USA's rescue at the death.

With U.S. players thrown forward, Honduras saw - and squandered - several opportunities to extend the lead. The U.S. looked slow, uninspired, and lacking a coherent strategy.

Bradley, Matt Besler and Dempsey, as well as substitutes Paul Arriola, Alejandro Bedoya and Geoff Cameron are all on caution watch and will serve a one-match suspension with their next yellow card. The Borussia Dortmund attacker was relentless, darting past Honduran defenders and looking to set up his teammates for an equalizer.

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It was Honduras, in fact, that came closest to scoring the second goal of the contest.

The U.S. was under siege for the next 10 minutes before the Americans regrouped and nearly got the equalizer in the 41st minute. The few World Cup cycles where US and Mexico could count on easy qualification are gone, with ascendant teams like Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Panama making it a closer race than ever before.

Arena didn't make any changes at intermission, and the US starting XI came out of the break full of energy.

Honduras never did recapture that same level of energy in the second half, even with Arena sticking by Beasley and Zusi to start the second half.

The USMNT avoided disaster in the most depressing way possible today against Honduras, riding a late short-range tap-in from Bobby Wood off a screaming Kellyn Acosta free kick to draw Honduras, 1-1.

A late Bobby Wood pulled the USA out of crisis mode. His reasoning was that his European-based players were early in their seasons, and not quite fit enough to handle two games in four days yet. It didn't really matter.

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Deja vu, Groundhog Day, the flat circuitousness of time: Whatever you want to call it, the USMNT are stuck on a treadmill, and they can't seem to escape it. The play started when Cameron launched a long-range throw-in.

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