The US men’s national team will be without defender Chris Richards and midfielder Tyler Adams when facing Honduras on Wednesday in Saint Paul, Minnesota for the last World Cup Qualifier of the window.
Adams has a hamstring injury, while Richards is sidelined with an ankle issue. Both players have been withdrawn from the USMNT roster, and no replacements have been named.
Adams, who captained the side on Sunday against Canada, managed 68 minutes on the field before being replaced. Richards was able to play for the full 90 minutes before his ankle became a substantial problem.
But U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter insists the focus remains on closing out the January/February window with a win to cement their place on the table. After Sunday’s 2-0 loss, the United States is tied at second place with Mexico, each recording 18 points in 10 games.
"Our focus right now is finishing off the window with a win," Berhalter said. "If we can do that, we'll be in a good position, and then it's about going to the last window and getting results, and we're confident we have a team that can do that."
With a victory over Honduras on Wednesday and three points against Panama on March 27, the United States would potentially clinch a spot to the international tournament, pending the results of other matches. A loss or draw at either home game, however, would put the American side in danger of missing its second consecutive World Cup.
This qualifying cycle has been better for the Americans. During the 2015-2017 rounds, the USMNT recorded only 12 points in 10 games and a record of 3-3-4 before falling to fifth place on the table.
Now, Berhalter adds that the team has shifted on the attack to wear down opponents.
"We've created enough in the first half to score more goals," Berhalter said. "I think we've done a good job of wearing teams down in the first half with both possession and transition. So we're doing a decent job. I think the last thing is just finishing those attacks.
"I'm happy that the team shows enough poise and composure to come out in the second half and still play strong."
The top three teams in the eight-team Concacaf group will advance to the 2022 World Cup. The fourth-place team will then enter an intercontinental playoff with one last opportunity to advance.