Because it turned out, the purpose celebration offered the final dramatic second of the sport.
Seconds after US defender Antonee Robinson scored the successful purpose for the Individuals in Thursday night time’s 1-0 win over El Salvador, he spun away from the purpose, made a hand bounce, after which pulled himself as much as seize his left hamstring. Taking part in in 30-degree temperatures – US Soccer had scheduled January’s sport in Columbus, Ohio, to attempt to acquire a psychological, if not meteorological, benefit over their Central American rivals – all of the sudden gave the impression to be backfiring.
Nonetheless, Robinson was simply joking. He rapidly turned his (pretend) tormented stride right into a full-blown strut, to the delight of his teammates and immense aid of his coaches. And with that, america took one other step nearer to collaborating on this yr’s World Cup in Qatar.
The win, mixed with different outcomes on a chilly night time of qualifiers in North and Central America and the Caribbean, stored america firmly in competition for management of their qualifier group in a key showdown with Canada on Sunday in Hamilton, Ontario take over. When the ultimate whistle blew in Columbus, Canada led Honduras at half-time.
United States coach Gregg Berhalter made only one notable change to his lineup on Thursday, utilizing Jesús Ferreira, a shock starter over Ricardo Pepi, his former FC Dallas teammate, as a ahead. Ferreira supplied vitality, motion and a few wonderful connections within the first half. However he didn’t convert two wonderful possibilities within the first 20 minutes and the Individuals went into half-time with essentially the most possession and an nearly monopolistic frustration.
The breakthrough got here early within the second half after Timothy Weah threw off his defender and fired a shot on the close to submit within the 52nd minute, which bounced off the goalkeeper and flew excessive within the air. A header over the purpose eluded gamers from each groups and rebounded proper in entrance of Robinson, who buried a one-off left-footed shot.
The purpose and 1-0 deficit appeared to take the lifetime of the Salvadorans, who’ve now been dominated out of 5 of their 9 qualifiers. A comeback appeared out of attain even earlier than Robinson’s damage woes: El Salvador haven’t scored twice in any of their closing spherical video games. Discovering two in opposition to america within the chilly was greater than an extended shot.
However the Individuals gave the impression to be enjoyable too: Christian Pulisic was eradicated simply after the hour mark, presumably to get some relaxation earlier than the Canada sport, and Ferreira and Weah quickly adopted him onto the bench.
With three video games in eight days within the present qualifying window, america has an opportunity to place itself in a number one place to say one of many area’s three automated spots for the World Cup initially of the ultimate three-game window in March. (It was mathematically attainable, if extraordinarily unlikely, that the Individuals might have clinched a World Cup spot by subsequent week if an advanced sequence of outcomes had damaged their means.)
By eight of 14 qualifiers, america went into Thursday’s video games in second place, some extent behind Canada, the shock group leaders, and one forward of arch-rivals Mexico and Panama. Mexico initially stored tempo by clinching a 2-1 win over Jamaica in Kingston.
America can take management of the group if they will beat the Canadians – weakened by the absence of Bayern Munich winger Alphonso Davies – on Sunday. They may then tackle Honduras in St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday in hopes of choosing up three wins in per week.
“We’re in an excellent place,” Pulisic mentioned earlier this week, “and by the top of this window we could possibly be in an amazing place.”
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