U.S. Earns 2-1 Victory Against Honduras in Opening Match of the Gold Cup

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DENY GALLAGHER
USMNT Writer

The United States Men’s National Team earned three points in a gutsy 2-1 victory against Honduras in their opening game of the 2015 Gold Cup.

Clint Dempsey’s brace was the difference as the striker scored his 42nd and 43rd international goals to pull within 14 of Landon Donovan’s scoring record.

The match not only marked Michael Bradley’s first as United States captain, but it was also the New Jersey native’s 100th cap with the national team.

This game started with both sides coming out at a torrent pace with Honduras making Brad Guzan break a sweat within the first ten minutes. The United States escaped the early barrage on goal unscathed as a pair of Honduran attempts on net were denied by the Aston Villa keeper.

The U.S. struggled to take control of the match in part because of a lack of connection between the midfield and the target players. This was due to Honduras making the field small by getting most of their men behind the ball.

In the 25th minute, the United States found a breakthrough that changed the pace of the match. Electing to take a short corner, DeAndre Yedlin played it to Michael Bradley. The newly anointed captain played a threatening ball to the near post. After some dreadful defending, opportunity knocked once again for Jozy Altidore. The Toronto FC man had his close range shot stopped, but the rebound found the head of Clint Dempsey who found the back the net.

With a goal in their pocket, momentum began to favor the Americans.

Around the half hour mark, Fabian Johnson showed that next gear in an explosive display of dribbling that drew in the Honduran defense in. Johnson played a simple pass to Yedlin that put him in on goal. The midfielder was unable to finish the opportunity to keep things at 1-0.

The Honduran’s continued to press for an equalizer. The effort was highlighted by a world-class show from Andy Najar, who used a combination of strength and agility to create space and get a shot on goal just before halftime. Breathing a sigh of relief, the United States held on to a 1-0 lead after 45 minutes of play.

The U.S. continued to dictate play in the second. Earlier in the week when Klinsmann made the change at captain, he emphasized Dempsey focusing on scoring for the United States in this tournament. That message was received by the Texan loud and clear, as the striker got his head on the end of a Michael Bradley free kick in the 64th minute to make it 2-0.

Just as the party was getting started in Frisco, Honduras answered in the 69th minute. Wilmer Crisanto played a remarkable ball that beat the American backline and put Carlos Discua in on goal. The attacker beat defender Ventura Alvarado and put his shot over Guzan’s left shoulder to cut the American advantage to 2-1.

Goals change everything in matches like this, and the opening game of the Gold Cup was no exception. With a renewed sense of life, the side in blue pressed on gaining confidence with every dribble, passes, and attempted shot. As the clock ticked past 75 minutes played, it was Honduras that looked the stronger side.

The U.S. defense grew increasingly fragile, especially in the last ten minutes as Honduras continued to beat their backline with a blend of physicality and terrific combination play. However, Jorge Luis Pinto’s side lacked the ability to finish these opportunities once in on goal.

The tensions could cut with a knife in Toyota Stadium, as the Hondurans refused to relent in the shadow of extra of time. Just before the final whistle, the blue and white earned a free kick from about 30 yards away from goal. As the ball was struck, the U.S. wall rose to deflect it away to ensure three points and their 13th consecutive victory in a Gold Cup opener.

After one match, the Americans are sitting pretty at the top of group A.

With a quick turn around, the United States will look to improve in all facets of the game ahead of Friday night’s match at Gillette Stadium.

The United States will play Haiti on Friday at 8:30 pm in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The match can be seen on FS1 and UniMas.


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