SOCCER

Pepi, US Beat Honduras 4-1 In World Cup Qualifier

Sep 8, 2021, 10:49 PM
Matt Turner #1 of United States instructs his defenders against Canada during the second half of a ...
Matt Turner #1 of United States instructs his defenders against Canada during the second half of a World Cup qualifying match at Nissan Stadium on September 5, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. United States ties tied Canada 1-1. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) — Antonee Robinson and Ricardo Pepi scored their first international goals after a halftime change in formation, Brenden Aaronson and Sebastian Lletget added late goals and the United States revived its World Cup qualifying campaign with a 4-1 win over Honduras on Wednesday night.

U.S. captain Christian Pulisic joined the lengthy American injured list, limping off in the 60th.

Brayan Maya put Honduras ahead in the 27th minute of a one-sided first half as the Catrachos dominated before a horn-blowing full house at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.

Robinson scored in the 48th minute and Pepi, starting in his international debut, in the 75th. Aaronson scored off a slick pass from Pepi in the 86th, and Lletget added his eighth international goal in the third minute of stoppage as Catrachos fans cheers turned to boos and whistles.

Criticized for waiting too long to insert substitutes on Sunday against Canada, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter injected Robinson, Lletget and Aaronson to start the second half for John Brooks, George Bello and Josh Sargent.

Following a counter led by Pulisic, Lletget’s cross was redirected in front by Pepi, and Robinson volleyed from 7 yards for his first goal in 15 international appearances.

Pulslic needed treatment after a challenge, then fell to the ground after trying to sprint on a dribble. He was replaced by Cristian Roldan and joined Sergio Dest, Gio Reyna and Zack Steffen with injuries.

The 18-year-old Pepi put the U.S. ahead in the 75th off a cross from DeAndre Yedlin, another sub.

Pepi became the 65th player to appear for the U.S since the October 2017 loss at Trinidad and Tobago ended a streak of seven straight World Cup appearances and the 42nd under Berhalter.

Aaronson, who scored his first goal in Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Canada, added his goal on a counter off a feed from Pepi.

Mexico leads the North and Central American and Caribbean with seven points, followed by Panama, Canada and the U.S. with five each. Honduras and El Salvador have two each, and Jamaica none.

Following draws at El Salvador and at home against Canada, the U.S. is in decent shape after three of the 14 matches. Qualifying resumes in October.

The U.S. won for just the third time in 34 road qualifiers in which it conceded first (five draws).

Berhalter made five lineup changes, giving Pepi his national team debut and inserting Bello, Mark McKenzie and James Sands for their qualifying debuts and bringing back Sargent, who started the opener. They joined Pulisic and midfielders Tyler Adams and Kellyn Acosta in what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation, with Adams playing wide on the right rather than defensive midfield.

Moya scored when he redirected a cross from Diego Rodríguez past goalkeeper Matt Turner after Brooks failed to make a tackle upfield.

Bello, making just his fourth international appearance, left Moya unmarked.

Notes: Canada beat visiting El Salvador 3-0 on goals by Atiba Hutchison, Jonathan David and Tajon Buchanan. … Mexico got a 76th-minute goal from Jesus Corona in a 1-1 draw at Panama, which went ahead on Rolando Blackburn’s 28th-minute goal. … Costa Rica was held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Jamaica. Jimmy Marín scored in the third minute for the hosts and Shamar Nicholson tied the score in the 47th.

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