FRISCO, Texas – Thanks to the head of forward Clint Dempsey, the US national team kicked off their 2015 Gold Cup slate by earning three points in a 2-1 win Tuesday night over Honduras at Toyota Stadium.
A heads-up play by Dempsey broke the scoreless tie in the 25th minute after the rebound from a saved Jozy Altidore shot following a recycled corner kick fell to the Seattle Sounders man at the top of the six-yard box. Dempsey’s lunging header gave Honduras goalkeeper Donis Escober no chance.
Dempsey used his head again in the 64th minute after newly appointed captain Michael Bradley sent in an arcing cross from outside the left of the penalty box. Dempsey charged into the box and was able to connect in front of a charging Escober, this time bouncing it underneath his extended left leg and into the net to double the US lead. The victory, to off the Americans' defense of the 2013 tournament title, is the team's fifth straight overall win.
Honduras did not go down without a fight, however.
Midfielder Carlos Discua was able to find space in front of American ‘keeper Brad Guzan, going right past US defender Ventura Alvarado after a perfectly weighted feed from Wilmer Crisanto, and zip the ball past him to cut the US lead to 2-1 in the 69th minute.
Honduras controlled the opening minutes of the match, despite the early US goal, and seemingly lived in the American’s third through its the early stages. Guzan was challenged from all angles, but he rose to the occasion and saved every attempt, including a one-on-one opportunity in the third minute against a weaving Anthony Lozano and a 30-yard shot from midfielder Andy Najar that nearly squeaked underneath the crossbar.
Najar, the D.C. United product, nearly drew the equalizer in first-half stoppage time after he weaved his way past Alvarado. But the midfielder’s attempt ultimately fell short, keeping the momentum on the US side going into the half.
Both teams continued to apply the pressure in the waning minutes of the match, with Bradley nearly connecting in the 78th minute from yet another set piece, firing a ball on the ground that was scooped up by Escober just in front of the goal line. Honduras continued to give the US fits with their speed, nearly tying the match in the 82nd and 84th minutes. But both attempts were fired just wide right of the net in similar fashion.
The US will now turn their attention to Haiti, who split the points with Panama in the early match, on Friday in Foxborough. Honduras will move on to face Panama.