CONCACAF World Cup qualifying: Honduras shock USA, Mexico draw Jamaica
By Football News
Clint Dempsey put the Americans on the board in the 36th minute before Honduras responded with goals from Juan Garcia and Jerry Bengtson on either side of half-time to begin the final round of qualifying in perfect fashion.
It was the first time the USA had lost the opening game of 'the Hexagonal' round of qualifying in the Americas, and only the fourth time they had been defeated by Honduras in 19 games dating back to 1965.
Playing in one of the most hostile atmospheres in CONCACAF to open the final stage of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the Americans could not have gotten off to a more promising start.
Jermaine Jones delivered a beautiful chip over the top of the Honduras defensive line and found Dempsey who finished with a classy volley. It was Dempsey's 31st career goal with the national team, moving him up to third on the all-time scoring list.
But the celebrations did not last for the visitors. It took just four minutes for Honduras to respond in remarkable fashion, with Garcia stunning goalkeeper Tim Howard with a bicycle kick from about 10 yards out. Following a misplaced corner kick, Honduras sent the ball back across the net twice before the defender elevated for the strike to see his side level at the interval.
The teams began the second half trading opportunities, with Michael Bradley and Garcia watching their respective shots go just wide. Bengston had a golden chance to put Honduras ahead in the 55th minute after overpowering defender Geoff Cameron but his shot flew over the crossbar.
With the US defenders on their heels, Honduras appeared to have taken the lead when Carlos Costly beat the defence before finishing past Howard. However, the goal would be waved off by the referee as Costly was ruled offside. The more the second half went on, the more the Americans looked like they were content with picking up a point on the road. That mindset, however, would get them into trouble.
In the 79th minute, Honduras broke the defensive wall for the match-winning goal. Some terrible defending by the USA's centre-backs Cameron and Omar Gonzalez left Bengtson with a simple tap home for the winner.
The US struggled to get possession in the final 10 minutes, but made things interesting three minutes into injury time with a late corner, but Gonzalez could only header high of the target.
In other results, Costa Rica came from two goals down to salvage a point away at Panama's Estadio Rommel Fernandez Gutierrez in a 2-2 result. Luis Henriquez and Roman Torres had the home nation well clear on 26 minutes, but Alvaro Saborio would pull one goal back prior to half-time.
Bryan Ruiz, of English Premier League side Fulham, struck the equaliser with six minutes remaining, with Saborio providing the assist.
In the later kick-off, Jamaica earned a point away to Mexico with a 0-0 draw, leaving Honduras to hold outright top spot in the qualifying group with all teams through one match.