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June 6, 2009
U.S. Men Top Honduras 2-1

Kathryn L. Knapp
ChicagoLand Soccer News

Carlos Bocanegra scored the U.S. game winner.
Carlos Bocanegra scored the U.S. game winner.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
CHICAGO, Ill. – The U.S. Men’s National Team had a mission on Saturday night, to get themselves back in good position in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying standings. They did just that after a hard-fought and well-deserved 2-1 win. It didn’t come easy however.

“We wanted to show that we deserve to be at the top of the table and that Wednesday’s game was a fluke,” U.S. defender Jay DeMerit said.

Honduras jumped out to an early lead and it looked as if the Americans were in trouble. In the fifth minute Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios challenged U.S. forward Clint Dempsey and won. Palacios crossed the ball to Carlos Costly, who blasted a shot past U.S. keeper Tim Howard and into the net for a 1-0 lead.

“Dempsey lost a ball in a difficult part of the field,” U.S. head coach Bob Bradley said. “He was determined to make up for it.”

Just before the half the U.S. tied things up. A handball on Palacios in the box resulted in a penalty kick opportunity for the Americans. Landon Donovan buried the shot in the upper right corner tying the match at 1-1.

“After the first goal, I thought oh, crap here we go again,” Carlos Bocanegra said. “But after it happened we regrouped. We were pushing forward but not losing our shape. Landon did well to make the penalty kick. The team did well to respond and show fight.”

In the second half both teams came out battling for control. After a couple of missed opportunities, the U.S. finally took control in the 68th minute. Donovan sent a corner kick into the box. Dempsey jumped up and headed it into the center of the net. Bocanegra dove and headed it in for a 2-1 lead.

The Americans held on despite a flurry of late attempts from Honduras. Danilo Turcios, who entered the match in the 66th minute for Palacios, sent a high ball toward goal in the 82nd minute. Maynor Figueroa rocketed a shot into the box in second-half injury time. Howard grabbed it, keeping his net clean and leading the USA to a 2-1 win.

With the win the USA improves to 3-1-1 (10 points). A Costa Rica 3-2 win over Trinidad & Tobago kept the club in first place. The U.S. Men continued their undefeated streak at home of 16-0-1, since Honduras handed them a 3-2 loss Sept. 1, 2001. The Americans return to Qualifying August 12th against Mexico in Mexico City.

“We’re halfway through this round,” Bradley said. “We’ve had a good start. There are improvements to be made. World Cup Qualifying is not just about one game. It’s about 10 games. It’s not normal to have an easy road.”

Next up, the Americans return to training. They kick off the Confederations Cup June 15th in South Africa against Italy.

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