Extremes temperatures force substitutions in US match

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Pulisic

The USA edged closer to qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar with victory over Honduras on a night when some players were substituted at half-time because of the extreme cold.

Goals from Weston McKennie, Walker Zimmerman and Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic sealed the win in Minnesota, where temperatures dropped to -16C.

As well as tights and gloves, some players wore balaclavas against the cold and Honduras said two players had to be taken off “due to the extreme weather”.

Visiting coach Hernan Gomez made three half-time changes, two of which were said to be because of the freezing conditions.

Before kick-off Gomez had said staging the game in Minnesota was “inconceivable”, adding: “The game hasn’t started, but I can’t wait for it to end. Because it’s not for enjoying, it’s for suffering.”

US head coach Gregg Berhalter said the choice of venue was down to the fact his team had played in Hamilton, Canada on Sunday and the 930-mile trip to Minnesota’s state capital of Saint Paul reduced travel time, adding that the USA had tried to create a “safe environment”.

US showed ‘small soccer mentality’

Fans watching at Allianz Field were given hand warmers at their seat and medical stations were set up in the stadium.

Speaking on US television, former Premier League midfielder Craig Burley said: “This is one more piece of the pathetic jigsaw. The USA has a big population but a small soccer mentality. If you are a player you want to play in the best conditions possible – you back yourself.

“They don’t go and put a game on in an area where this time of year the weather and temperatures and everything that goes with playing your best is horrendous. That’s a very small mentality to have.”

Asked about the playing conditions, Berhalter responded: “What I would say is that we provided Honduras and their staff and the referees with warm weather gear, we provided them with headgear, and [tried] to make it a safe environment for them to play.

“When we go down to those countries and it’s 90 degrees and it’s unbearable humidity and guys are getting dehydrated and cramping up and getting heat exhaustion, that’s the nature of our competition.

“When we scheduled this game and this location, you know, you have to go by average temperatures.”

Canada on brink, Jimenez on target

Berhalter’s team are now second in Concacaf qualifying for teams from Central America, North America and the Caribbean with three games remaining.

Three of the eight teams in the group will qualify for the World Cup automatically, with a fourth entering a play-off against the winner of the Oceania qualifying tournament.

Canada areon the brink of a first World Cup appearance since 1986after goals from Atiba Hutchinson and Jonathan David earned a 2-0 win over El Salvador.

The Canadians, managed by English coach John Herdman, are now four points clear at the top of the group.

  • Mexico opened up a four-point gap in third place with Wolves’ Raul Jimenez on target in a 1-0 win over Panama, while fifth-placed Costa Rica kept their qualifying hopes alive with a 1-0 away win over Jamaica in Kingston. BBC