It isn't even in the top three. But fourth place looks a lot better than fifth, which is where it would have been but for a 1-1 tie at Honduras thanks to a dramatic goal from Bobby Wood with five minutes to play.
1. Sometimes it takes a village.
The USA looked to be headed to defeat for the second game in a row -- just like it did when it opened up Hexagonal, costing Jurgen Klinsmann his job -- when it conjured up an equalizer in the 85th minute.
Seven players had a hand in the goal, beginning with Geoff Cameron, who won a 50-50 ball in the air that fell to Michael Bradley. Christian Pulisic, tired legs and all, came for Bradley's pass and turned on his defender, Alfredo Mejia, drawing a free kick 27 yards from goal.
Kellyn Acosta, who had scored on free kicks for FC Dallas against Pachuca in the Concacaf Champions League in March and Ghana in a friendly in July, lined up and fired a free kick headed for the upper-right corner, where Honduran keeper Luis Lopez stopped it with a flying save.
The rebound looped to the other side of the goal, where Matt Besler lifted it back toward goal with his left foot. Jordan Morris flicked it on to Wood, who chested the ball down and fired the ball into the goal with the outside of his right foot.
After the 4-0 loss in Costa Rica that cost Klinsmann his job, the USA has now gotten a result in all three of its Hex games on the road under Bruce Arena, marking the first time it has done that in 20 years. Those three points have kept the USA in the hunt, making up for the three points dropped at home to Costa Rica on Friday night.
U.S. Hex away results:
2. On the ropes after Omar gaffe.
Wood's goal wiped out 85 minutes of another game which the USA struggled to gain control of. Arena made seven changes from the team that lost to Costa Rica, 2-0, hoping fresh legs would hold up in the heat and humidity of San Pedro Sula.
But the pace of the Honduran attackers Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Antony Lozano put the U.S. defense under considerable pressure for the first hour. The Catrachos went ahead in the 27th minute when Omar Gonzalez came up empty on his tackle, allowing Quioto to break in alone on Brad Guzan whom he beat to the far post.
Honduras looked like it would get a second goal before the break, but Guzan came up big on a Maynor Figueroa free kick, punching away the FC Dallas defender's fierce free kick in the 44th minute.
3. Cameron, from goat to hero.
The turning point in the game for the USA came not with an offensive switch -- though Wood was a sub off the bench for the quiet Darlington Nagbe -- but a double switch to take off the two tiring outside backs, Graham Zusi and DaMarcus Beasley, and bring on Cameron and Paul Arriola.
Cameron, who struggled in the 2-0 loss to Costa Rica, was a stabilizing force on the backline, while Arriola added energy on the wing.
The moves at least allowed the USA to stay even with the Catrachos until the final push in the last 10 minutes that produced one of the biggest goals in U.S. qualifying history -- and got Gonzalez off the hook.