By Gary R. Blockus | Sept. 05, 2017, 8:08 p.m. (ET)
Bobby Wood controls the ball against Francisco Calvo of Costa Rica at the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier at Red Bull Arena on Sept. 1, 2017 in Harrison, N.J.

 

Bobby Wood’s goal in the 85th minute salvaged a critical tie for the U.S. men’s soccer team in its quest to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Wood’s goal secured a 1-1 tie with host Honduras in sweltering conditions that saw the heat index rise to as high as 116 degrees at the start of the match.

Wood tied the game with his first goal of the year for the national team just 12 minutes after he entered the game as the last U.S. substitute, replacing midfielder Darlington Nagbe. Kellyn Acosta took a free kick from about 30 yards out that bounced off several players inside the 6-yard box before Wood gathered the ball off his chest and buried it into the net.

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 U.S. central defender Omar Gonzalez missed a slide tackle as Quioto gained possession down the left wing.

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The win kept the two teams tied in CONCACAF “Hex” standings with nine points apiece, but the U.S. holds the tiebreaker in goal differential with a plus-1 to Honduras’ minus-7. The top three teams in the CONCACAF standings automatically qualify for a spot in the 2018 World Cup, with the fourth-place team entering a play-in round.

Panama trailed the U.S. and Honduras by a single point in the standings going into the evening, and was playing bottom-rung Trinidad & Tobago later Tuesday night.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena made seven changes to the starting 11, including inserting Clint Dempsey as a starter, giving Dempsey his 41st World Cup qualifying cap to move past Landon Donovan for the U.S. men’s all-time lead.

The U.S. closes out qualifying play by hosting Panama on Oct. 6 and visiting Trinidad & Tobago on Oct. 10.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.