Just about every single loss in World Cup qualifying is a gut punch, especially in the Concacaf Octagonal. And after Sunday’s 2-0 setback at Canada, the US men’s national team find themselves in urgent need of a response when hosting Honduras in Arctic conditions at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday evening (7:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, TUDN).

Just don’t expect much of a shift in demeanor from cerebral coach Gregg Berhalter.

“I think we go out and we play hard and we play to win the game,” he said in Tuesday’s pregame press availability. “That's the message to the team. It's not time to panic. Other teams have been through this. We've been through it before, and we just stick to the process and play hard, compete, move the ball fast, try to get the ball in the penalty box as quickly as possible.

“We talked about stretching the [opponent], getting behind them. And that's our formula. Defensively, we've been solid throughout this tournament, and will continue to do so.”

Canada’s win vaulted them four points clear atop the table, with the USMNT and Mexico tied on points in second (18 total) and Panama just one point back of them. Many nerves, both inside the program and out, will be calmed by a second Octagonal win over Los Catrachos, who remain winless after 10 Ocho matches and were officially eliminated from Qatar 2022 contention with Sunday’s home loss to El Salvador.

On the outside, at least, the main protagonists are keeping an even keel as the race for Concacaf's three automatic WC berths intensifies.

“The pressure is there automatically, but I think we don't really let it try and get to us. I think we're at our best when we have fun with the game and we enjoy it and we play the way that we know that we can,” said midfielder Weston McKennie. “We just have one mindset and we just want to enjoy the game, and play as if we were kids on a field back when we were younger.”

Attacking dynamism remains a chief concern, with scoring few and far between despite plenty of possession in their past two matches and limited goals from the No. 9 corps since Ricardo Pepi’s breakout display in Honduras back on Sept. 8.

Asked about his observations from further review of the Canada loss, Berhalter doubled down on his striking defense of that performance. He did, though, concede shortcomings with counterattacking moments and unlocking a low-block defense, admitting that star creator Christian Pulisic could be shifted into a more central position to help him rediscover his form.

“For the transition, I think that's something that we could improve on and take advantage of, and create opportunities out of that because we're a young team, we’re a team that can run, we’re a team that loves to press,” said McKennie. “We’re a team that is most effective and create a lot of our chances from winning balls and pressuring and going straight to goal. I think we kind of held back on that these past two games and didn’t use it to its full ability, I guess, being effective in the final third.”

The Yanks must do so without exposing themselves to Honduras’ speed and opportunism in the opposite direction. That task is made much harder by the hamstring strain that ruled out defensive midfielder Tyler Adams – “we'll miss that for sure,” said Berhalter, adding that Romell Quioto, Alberth Elis & Co. are “a tricky team” whose expected goals numbers point to better play than their match results would indicate.

While his messaging might well look quite different behind closed doors, Berhalter was resolutely levelheaded as his team face a challenging run-in to their Ocho campaign, with trips to Mexico and Costa Rica next month that could be far more stressful if all three points aren’t secured in the bitterly cold setting of the Twin Cities.

The March window also includes a home game against Panama at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium, and wins on friendly soil should help Qatar 2022 hopes considerably.

“I think you put the players at ease by working in a similar way. You take the emotion out of it, you analyze the game, analyze what we could have done better against Canada, and come up with a game plan for Honduras and you go from there,” said the coach. “[For] the guys, preparation breeds confidence and preparing them the best way we can for what this game is going to look like is important.

“But as far as we're concerned, we go do our thing. We've been very strong at home, very dominant at home with our performances and we want to continue that.