The chorus, “We are going to Brazil” didn’t come until the 73rd minute; it was that kind of night for Jozy Altidore and the U.S. Men’s National Team. To that point, visiting Honduras kept the U.S. at bay in the second meeting of the teams in this CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Hexagonal round. However, in a show of persistence that marked this American team, the U. S. eventually got into stride in the second half to continue its winning ways and exact revenge for its only loss in this final round by beating Honduras, 1-0, Tuesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
Altidore’s goal in the 73rd minute came when Fabian Johnson overlapped on the left side from his defensive position and sent a low cross into the penalty area, where Altidore, with a nose for the goal, tapped it into the net. The goal was Altidore’s fourth in as many qualifying games and gave the Americans a perfect 3-0 record in June to stretch their unbeaten record in World Cup qualifying at home (22-0-2) to 24 games. The U.S. is now atop the six-team final group with 13 points from six games and in the driver’s seat on the road the Rio for the 2014 FIFA World Cup next summer.
Much of the Americans’ winning ways should be credited to their depth. During the three-game stretch in June, Klinsmann’s reserves made a big difference. In the 2-0 win over Panama on June 11 in Seattle, Jeff Cameron stepped into midfield for the injured Jermaine Jones and forward Eddie Johnson was at midfield for the suspended Graham Zusi. In Utah, Fabian Johnson moved from his midfield position to the defense for DaMarcus Beasley and Cameron, who perfomed exceptionally well after coming on for Jones in the 2-1 win at Jamaica, made room for Jones.
Honduras (7 pts,) coming off a 2-0 home defeat of Jamaica on June 11, was not as fortunate in using its reserves. Despite playing a very good game and creating problems for the U.S., it suffered from the absence of leading scorer Jerry Bengtson and forward Carlos Costly, who left the game with an injury midway in the first half. Also missing for Honduras were central defender and mainstay Victor Bernardez and midfielder Luis Garrido, both were out serving suspensions. Midfielder Boniek Garcia, Maynor Figueroa and Emilio Izaguirre were also absent.
Both teams struggled to establish sustained rhythm throughout the first half. In fact, the visitors had the better of shots on goal and the best chance for either team in the half came when forward Andy Najar unleashed a blistering shot from the top of the penalty box in the 44th minute to force U.S. captain and goal keeper Tim Howard into a save.
The USA continued to push forward for the winner; just before Altidore’s goal, a scramble in front of the Honduras goal almost produced the winner for the U. S., but the visitors were fortunate to subdue that attack. A minute later, though, Honduras was not so fortunate.
In the only other CONCACAF qualifying game Tuesday night, host Costa Rica got second-half goals from captain Bryan Ruiz (49th min.) and Celso Borges (52nd) to beat Panama (6 pts.), 2-0, at the National Stadium in San Jose (Costa Rica
In a rain-drench game, neither team could muster much offense in the first half, and this despite Panama getting top scorer Blas Perez back in the line-up after missing the loss to the U.S. days earlier with a mild sickness. The second half, though, was a different story and saw the home team put more urgency into the game to get the positive result. Ruiz scored when his deflected free kick wound up in the visitors’ goal; he later assisted on Borges’ tally. After six games played by the teams, the USA (13 pts.) leads, Costa Rica (11) is second, Mexico (8) third, Honduras (7) fourth, Panama (6) fifth then Jamaica (2).
In last week MLS games, the Vancouver Whitecaps (5-5-4) beat the New England Revolution, 4-3, behind two goals from Kenny Miller; the San Jose Earthquakes got its first win with new coach Mark Watson when it defeated the Colorado Rapids, 2-1; and Matias Sanchez and Dominic Oduro scored as the Columbus Crew (5-5-5) the Montreal Impact, 2-0, and stopped the Canadians’ win streak at three games. Toronto FC (2-7-5) knocked off DC United, 2-1. It was Toronto’s first win in its last 11 games; the Portland Timbers (6-1-8) defeated FC Dallas (8-3-4), 1-0, from a Darlington Nagbe goal to run its unbeaten streak to 13 games.
Red Bulls to host Lyon
The New York Red Bulls will host seven-time French champion Olympic Lyon in a friendly game at Red Bull Arena on July 16. Current Red Bulls players Juninho and Peguy Luyindula played for Lyon, which recently finished third in the French League One and qualified for next season’s Champions League.
GK: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa/England), Tim Howard (Everton/England), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEF: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/England), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby/Denmark), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim/Germany), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg/Germany)
MID: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (AS Roma/Italy), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/Mexico), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Jermaine Jones, (Schalke 04/Germany), Stuart Holden (Bolton/England), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht/Belgium), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FOR: Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna/Austria), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur)/England, Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders FC)
GK: Noel Valladares (Olimpia), Donis Escober (Olimpia), Kevin Hernandez (Real España)
DEF: Brayan Beckeles (Olimpia), Victor Bernardez (San Jose), Osman Chavez (Wisla Krakow), Juan Carlos Garcia (Olimpia), Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic), Jhony Leveron (Vancouver Whitecaps), Juan Pablo Montes (Motagua), Arnold Peralta (Rangers), Orlin Peralta (Vida), Jose Velasquez (Victoria)