Berhalter swaps 5 starters for WCup qualifier vs Honduras

Sports

United States head coach Gregg Berhalter walks on the pitch during a training session ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying soccer match between Honduras and the United States in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) — Forward Ricardo Pepi was given his U.S. national team debut as under-pressure coach Gregg Berhalter changed five starters for Wednesday night’s World Cup qualifier at Honduras.

Defenders George Bello, Mark McKenzie and James Sands also were inserted into the lineup along with forward Josh Sargent.

They joined captain Christian Pulisic and midfielders Tyler Adams and Kellyn Acosta in what appeared to be a 3-5-2 formation.

The U.S. was coming off an opening 0-0 draw at El Salvador and a 1-1 tie against Canada at Nashville, Tennessee.

Pepi, Bello, McKenzie and Sands were making their World Cup qualifying debuts.

Honduras coach Fabian Corio changed eight starters after switching nine in the previous match, a 0-0 tie at El Salvador, keeping only goalkeeper Luis López and forwards Anthony Lozano and Jonathan Toro.

He restored the back four from the opening 1-1 draw at Canada: Andy Najar, Maynor Figueroa, Marcelo Pereira and Diego Rodríguez.

Also new were midfielders Kervin Arriaga, Carlos Pineda and Deybi Flores, and forward Bryan Moya.

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