What we learned from USMNT rout of Honduras in World Cup qualifying: Defensive partnership shines, midfield depth strong

The United States topped Honduras on Wednesday evening in dominant fashion, braving the frigid Minnesota weather to collect a comprehensive 3-0 victory and move closer to 2022 World Cup qualification.

Field conditions were brutal as temperatures in the negative digits caused players to bundle up on the pitch to avoid the worst of the elements.

With the three points, the United States moves to the brink of qualifying for the big dance. It’s now on 21 points, three above Mexico and four above Panama, who matched up in Mexico City on Wednesday evening.

MORE: Minute-by-minute recap of USMNT 3-0 Honduras

In a very one-sided match, the result was never in doubt for the United States. Weston McKennie’s eighth-minute goal sent it on its way. But there lessons can still be taken from the match. Here are three things we learned from the 90 minutes of play:

What we learned from USMNT win over Honduras

Honduras is not very good

While the United States will be pleased with the performance in this match, all lessons learned from the 90 minutes in St. Paul, Minn., have to be taken in context. To put it bluntly, Honduras wasn’t up to the level of other top-tier CONCACAF teams. Even the likes of El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama have all presented a solid challenge at various times throughout World Cup qualification. Honduras, however, has not.

MORE: USMNT player grades vs. Honduras

Honduras held just 27 percent possession, managed just a 60% pass success rate, failed on all four of its attempted crosses, completed just 3 of 10 dribbles and failed to generate a single shot on target. Maynor Figueroa was a bulldozer in defense, and with 11 men behind the ball there was no outlet when Honduras was able to gain possession. The visitors were soundly beaten from start to finish.

The weather was a big talking point throughout the match, but it was quite clear that the United States would have won this game handily no matter where it was played.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why Honduras has just three points through 11 World Cup qualification games.

Does the USMNT finally have a solid CB partnership?

Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson have been the best two center backs in Major League Soccer over the last two years, and that seems to have translated to the USMNT. While neither had a perfect window — Robinson was at fault for Canada’s early goal in Hamilton while Zimmerman had a big mistake on the flank in the Honduras match — they have chemistry, and that’s almost as important as individual talent.

MORE: CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings & schedule

Robinson and Zimmerman capably squashed counterattacks by Honduras throughout the match, and while the visitors didn’t present nearly the same vicious counterattacking threat that Canada did a few days earlier, they still stood tall when required.

For a nation that has struggled to develop center-back talent in the same way it has produced young midfield and winger stars, having an established partnership at the back is a seriously encouraging possibility.

The U.S. midfield is loaded

While Weston McKennie shined again on Wednesday and solidified himself as the player of the international window for the United States, the Honduras match was all about midfield depth.

With Tyler Adams nursing a strained hamstring and Yunus Musah not producing the performances required, Gregg Berhalter called upon Kellyn Acosta and Luca de la Torre, who both rose to the occasion. Acosta was stunning, providing possessional distribution and set-piece brilliance, the latter of which helped finally break the USMNT duck from dead-ball situations.

MORE: Fans, media react to frigid Minnesota conditions

De la Torre, meanwhile, was energetic and carried the ball forward with intent throughout the match. The former Fulham youth product now plays for Eredivisie club Heracles and has hit a stride with the club as he has gotten consistent minutes; that appears to have translated to the national team. Berhalter named de la Torre his Coach’s Man of the Match after the game and praised the 23-year-old for “taking advantage” of the opportunity given to him.

With Musah still clearly a talent, plus the presence of recent contributors Sebastian Lletget, Christian Roldan, Jackson Yueill, Gianluca Busio and Paxton Pomykal, Berhalter has a deep pool of quality options for midfield selection at his fingertips.

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