HAMILTON, Ontario – The US men’s national team's postgame press availability ran a lot shorter after Sunday’s 2-0 World Cup qualifying loss to Canada than the home win over El Salvador last week, because their traveling party had a flight to catch.

The USMNT usually travel by charter, which seemingly would have been unlikely to leave them behind. Nonetheless, the mood was clear: Gregg Berhalter and his team were eager to cross the border and escape the icy North, even if their next stop, Minneapolis-St. Paul, is even colder at the moment.

“I thought we were trying to create chances, playing in their half, winning duels and proving that we can control the game,” said Atlanta United center back Miles Robinson. “It's just a matter of a few moments that can cost us the game. But yeah, it's completely past all of us. I think we just have to focus in on Honduras at this point.”

Losing to the Octagonal’s undefeated runaway leaders on their turf should no longer be seen as a disappointment; the CanMNT are for real, and the only nation in the region that can honestly begin to contemplate a trip to Qatar 2022 in the fall. But setting aside for a moment what Berhalter said about it, this was a bad Sunday indeed for the Yanks.

Tyler Adams, an ever-present force in the lineup, fierce emotional presence and author of many a central-midfield conquest, is hurt with a hamstring strain that's surely ruled him out for Wednesday’s meeting with Honduras at Allianz Field (7:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision TUDN).

The US finished the Canada game with 10 players because Chris Richards couldn’t continue following a foot injury. Berhalter told CBS Sports in a live standup interview it’s feared to be a broken bone. Nashville SC's Walker Zimmerman should start the next one at center back; in order to do so he’ll be shaking off a supposedly minor hamstring issue that led him to be shelved on Sunday.

(EDIT: Adams and Richards are injured and won't feature against Honduras.)

Up top, three different strikers have started at the No. 9 spot in the USMNT’s last three qualifiers, and none have scored. Christian Pulisic was given a full 90 minutes to play his way out of his current dry spell, but showed only flashes of his devastating best. Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah continue to show quality, but must now adapt to being specifically targeted and neutralized by opponents.

“When I think about the big picture of this,” said a stubbornly calm Berhalter at Tim Hortons Field, “Canada is clearly in first place. We may drop to third place tonight, but we're still in good position in World Cup qualifying and we want to close out this window with a win at home against Honduras to solidify our position.”

Make no mistake: The United States are most definitely mired in a crowded race for one of Concacaf’s three automatic qualification slots. Even tied in second place, a whisker ahead of Mexico on the goal-differential tiebreaker with plucky Panama just a point behind them, a World Cup return is far from certain with four games to go.

Fate has tossed his team a break in the form of a home game vs. the last-placed team in the group, who just suffered a backbreaking 2-0 home loss to El Salvador that makes them the first and only team in the Ocho to be mathematically eliminated from contention and remain winless. It’s a must-win, though, and the blueprint Canada used to take four points from their two qualifiers vs. the USMNT can be imitated by Los Catrachos.

Berhalter’s team has been persistently slow starters for quite some time now, scoring just two first-half goals in 10 Ocho matches. They also have a recurring tendency to be predictable in their buildup and were not particularly crisp or bold in their vertical passing on Sunday, often dawdling on the ball waiting for patterns to materialize. When that’s the case, opponents don’t mind letting them have the ball in non-threatening areas.

If and when they turn it over, well-executed transition play can catch them out, as Jonathan David and Cyle Larin demonstrated in their seventh-minute opener. With the likes of Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis and Anthony “Choco” Lozano in the mix, Honduras too can counter with pace and flair. They can also muck things up in the meantime – just hark back to the ugly Concacaf Nations League semifinal that required an 89th-minute winner from Jordan Pefok.

CanMNT boss John Herdman gave a hint of his plan after his side’s triumph.

“You see McKennie, Aaronson, Pulisic, Musah, Dest – guys that are in great form,” he said. “You’ve got to know that in a game like this, there's going to be two elements: it's going to be tactical and it's going to be about team spirit.

“The first goal was key. I mean, once you score that first goal, you’ve got control. Now, you can take control of where you want to play the game, and how you want to play the chaos. And we were able to adapt, to allow them – similar to when we played them in Nashville – to allow them a bit more pitch control in areas, and to make sure that we were resilient. We've shown that we can do that.”

Fail to take all three points in St. Paul, and March becomes a nervy run-in indeed. A trip to mighty Azteca in high-altitude Mexico City opens the next and final Ocho window, one of the most daunting away days in the world even against this off-color version of El Tri currently stumbling along under Tata Martino. The USMNT have never won a qualifier there, with just two hard-won draws in their history.

Then it’s a rematch with Panama at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, where three points will be essential. And this cycle concludes with a visit to Costa Rica. US teams very rarely take so much as a point from Los Ticos in Central America, with an active streak of eight straight qualifying losses across two different stadiums and zero wins in San Jose all-time.

Of course, results elsewhere could break in Berhalter’s favor, as they already did with Costa Rica holding host Mexico to a draw Sunday evening. But that’s the very definition of not controlling your own destiny. Thinking back to the gut-wrenching roller coaster of the 2018 cycle’s final night, the cloud that emerged from Couva. So much had to go wrong for the USMNT to miss out on Russia 2018, but everything aligned.

If there’s one basic criterion that would show the USMNT have advanced from that point, it would be clinching a place in Qatar sooner and saving their fans from facing that scenario again.