Bobby Wood came to the rescue of the US national team in Honduras on Tuesday night, hopping off the bench late to bag the 1-1 equalizer that allowed USA to keep hold of the final CONCACAF automatic World Cup qualification slot for the moment.
It was another decidedly subpar showing from the US, who were extremely sloppy with the ball and again suffered a first half opener caused by a backline gaffe. However, just when it looked like they would fall behind the Catrachos in the Hex table, Wood calmly popped up to cancel out Romell Quioto's opener for the smash-and-grab point.
Brad Guzan (6.5) - The US netminder's distribution occasionally left something to be desired, but he made his five saves look easy. Guzan's best stop came when he stared down and ably shoved away a nasty Maynor Figueroa free-kick drive.
Graham Zusi (3.5) - It was a rather rough shift for the Sporting KC right back, who repeatedly struggled to catch up with the speedy Catrachos wingers. Zusi was both caught up and beaten to throughballs, and offered nothing of consequence while on the ball.
Omar Gonzalez (5) - In the first half, Gonzalez inexplicably allowed a through pass to run and then whiffed on a tackle attempt to facilitate the Honduras goal. After the break, the Pachuca man redeemed himself a bit by pulling off some important defense on the counter to help keep USA in the game.
Matt Besler (6) - The left center back could have moved the ball out of the back a bit better, but he did pile up 14 total defensive stops in the US end and kept the rebound alive to earn a secondary assist on Wood's rescue strike.
DaMarcus Beasley (5) - It was a hot and cold defensive outing for the veteran. He was badly beaten by Alberth Elis a couple times, but stood up well to his Houston teammate on other sequences. Beasley was also generally safer with the ball than most of the US players.
Michael Bradley (4.5) - It's been a while since the skipper struggled this much to grab any hold of the game. Bradley was so-so until Honduras scored, and then all but fell off the map. His restarts were also ineffective.
Kellyn Acosta (6) - This is a tricky grade to calculate. On one hand, Acosta offered so little help to Bradley in the way of possession and traffic direction. Then again, he also accounted for nine recoveries and three tackles in the US end, and struck a fantastic dead ball from long range to kick off the visitors' goal sequence. With a healthy boost from that fantastic free kick, we'll call it a wash.
Christian Pulisic (5) - Many of the away team's early rushes were initiated by Pulisic dribbles, and he never stopped taking on defenders. The youngster also picked some pockets as the US strived to tie, and then win the game. However, with a few exceptions, his passing touch was well off on this night.
Clint Dempsey (5) - It certainly wasn't the finest Dempsey outing you ever saw, but in an ugly game, he banged enough around the Honduras box to tee up four US shots in the first half. He was largely marked out of the game after intermission, though.
Darlington Nagbe (4.5) - The Portland midfielder started fairly brightly on the flank, then strangely faded from view until being removed on 73 minutes.
Jordan Morris (6.5) - Due to the team's poor passing display, Morris saw precious little of the ball in the final third. Still, he managed to set up a half-chance for Pulisic and notched a flick-on assist on the equalizer.
Coach Bruce Arena (4) - As the US manager stated in the aftermath of Friday's wildly frustrating Costa Rica loss, soccer is to a great extent a game authored by the players. Nevertheless, we once again have some quibbles with the coach (who, in all fairness, pulled the right sub strings). Most notably, Arena should know well that Zusi doesn't have the speed to hang with the likes of Elis and Quioto. The team also looked tight as could be. Players didn't see to want the ball (when was the last time we saw so many hurried hoofs?) and defensive lapses were again the order of the day. The boss needs to foster a lot more inner calm before the final two qualifiers.
Geoff Cameron (6) - The Stoke City man played several positive passes into attack as the team chased the late goal.
Bobby Wood (7.5) - Are we absolutely sure the Hamburg forward shouldn't actually be the US supersub? Wood was cooler than cucumber ice cream to chest down and poke home the vital 85th minute equalizer from a crowd. The rescue artist now has four goals in 11 career caps off the bench, including a pair of late competitive levelers.