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U.S. Men’s Soccer Team Back On Track With 6-0 Victory Over Honduras To Improve World Cup Chances

By Craig Bohnert | March 25, 2017, 1:16 a.m. (ET)

Clint Dempsey #8 is congratulated by Alejandro Bedoya, Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore after scoring a goal during their FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier at Avaya Stadium on March 24, 2017 in San Jose, Calif.

 

Seeking a return to the type of result the U.S. fans have grown accustomed to, U.S. Soccer turned to a familiar name to right a ship that had blown off course. A home loss to Mexico and an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Costa Rica left the U.S. men 0-2 in the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, also known as the “Hex,” and searching for answers.

Despite a spate of injuries that left emerging stars unavailable for Saturday’s match at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, Bruce Arena put together a roster of veterans leavened with the youth of its newest international standout, Christian Pulisic, with the hope of getting out of the cellar of the six-team table.

The result: a stunning 6-0 victory over Honduras that pushed Team USA into fourth place and went a long way toward washing away the sour taste of the tournament’s first two outings.

Veteran Clint Dempsey led the rout with a hat trick as the Americans put their foot on the gas pedal early and never let up. The opening goal, a Sebastian Lletget clean-up of a deflected Pulisic attempt, came in the fifth minute.

After Michael Bradley drove a left-footer to the far post from 20 yards out to make it 2-0 in the 27th minute, Dempsey scored the first of his three goals. Accepting a beautifully placed chip feed from Pulisic on his shoulder as he entered the penalty area, Dempsey fought off a defender and calmly toed the ball past Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escober for a 3-0 halftime advantage.

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Pulisic added to the evening’s electricity with his fourth international goal just 15 seconds into the second half. Dempsey then scored back-to-back tallies in the span of five minutes. His second goal came off a Jozy Altidore assist that again showcased Dempsey’s ability to remain calm while building a scoring opportunity in the penalty area as he drew Escober off his line before coolly tapping the ball into the net. The third was a set piece from the right side in the 54th minute found the far corner for the final 6-0 margin.

With three points and a positive goal differential in hand, Team USA now will carry Saturday’s momentum to Panama City to face Panama Tuesday at Estadio Rommel Fernandez, where a victory would vault the Americans into third place. The top three teams at the end of the hexagonal earn a berth in the 2018 World Cup, while the fourth-place team would go into a playoff with an Asian side for a ticket to the tournament in Russia.