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USMNT, Ricardo Pepi shine against Honduras in second half of World Cup qualifier – The Athletic

The U.S. men’s national team has gotten its World Cup qualifying campaign back on the rails with a 4-1 win over Honduras on Wednesday night.

After entering halftime down 1-0, manager Gregg Berhalter made three substitutions to start the second half with aplomb. What ensued was a four-goal onslaught, as the USMNT climbed all the way to third in the Octagonal as the first international window comes to a close.

It was a classic “tale of two halves” type of match. After struggling in the 4-3-3, Berhalter lined his team up in a 3-4-3. What ensued was an even sloppier 45 minutes than any of the previous four intervals, with gaps galore in the midfield, between the back seven and the attack, and all over the defensive line.

After the tactical change and personnel swaps, the team looked far more capable of finding success. Fullbacks Antonee Robinson and DeAndre Yedlin came off the bench and directly influenced goals, Robinson scoring the equalizer and Yedlin assisting the match-winner. FC Dallas homegrown Ricardo Pepi made his case to be the United States’ new starting striker, as the 18-year-old Texan scored the winner and added two assists in his senior international debut.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however.

After losing Gio Reyna to injury, Zack Steffen to COVID-19 and Weston McKennie to a protocol breach, Christian Pulisic exited the game in the 62nd minute with an apparent lower-leg injury. It’ll be a situation to monitor for U.S. fans and the Chelsea faithful alike and could significantly impact the upcoming October window.

Still, a win in a traditionally difficult venue is a massive shot in the arm for Berhalter and his team as they look to right the wrongs of 2017.

(Photo: Orlando Sierra / AFP via Getty Images)

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