U.S. Men Continue Impressive Form at Home in Qualifying With 2-1 Victory Against Honduras at Soldier Field in Chicago
CHICAGO (June 6, 2009) — The U.S. Men’s National Team posted a historic 2-1 victory against Honduras behind a successful penalty kick conversion from Landon Donovan and a game-winning header from team captain Carlos Bocanegra in the 68th minute this evening in front of 55,647 fans at Soldier Field in Chicago. The win improved the USA’s unbeaten streak at home in World Cup qualifying to 17 matches, collecting a record of 16-0-1 on U.S. soil dating back to 2001.
Tonight’s come-from-behind victory was the first in qualifying for the Unites States in more than 24 years, the last occurring on May 15, 1985 against Trinidad & Tobago in St. Louis. Soldier Field hosted the latest come-from-behind victory as well, which occurred during the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup final when the U.S. came back from a goal down against Mexico to earn the regional title and a spot in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.
With his goal, his second of the week after netting another penalty against Costa Rica on Wednesday, Donovan now stands as the USA’s all-time leading scorer in World Cup qualifying with 11 goals. Bocanegra’s goal was his second game-winner of the qualifying cycle, with his first coming against Guatemala on Aug. 20, 2008, in Guatemala City.
“The most important thing for us was the response of the team after giving up the first goal. It showed a great deal about what these guys are all about,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley, who improved his home qualifying record to a perfect 6-0-0. “From that standpoint, that's an important step for us as we try to move forward. It was a tough game for sure. It's not easy when you start the game and give up a goal the first time the opponent comes down the field. The response was strong, and it was an important three points."
After a disappointing performance in Costa Rica just three days earlier, Bradley made four changes to the starting line-up. Jonathan Spector and Jonathan Bornstein were called upon to man right and left back, respectively, while Ricardo Clark was selected for a central midfield spot.
Up front, Jozy Altidore earned his third-straight start, and was joined by Conor Casey, who was added to the roster after the Costa Rica match when Brian Ching was ruled unavailable due to a hamstring strain. The appearance was Casey’s fourth start and fifth overall appearance in FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Honduras took the lead early on after Carlos Costly won the ball near the midfield line. He played the ball to his left for Wilson Palacios, who touched it inside and had a clear look at goal. He tucked a left-footed shot neatly past the outstretched hands of Tim Howard and inside the left post to give Honduras an early lead in the fifth minute.
After the goal, the U.S. took control of the game, holding possession and creating numerous chances. Spector joined the attack in the 25th minute, sprinting up the right flank to the endline before cutting the ball back across the goal mouth to create the first dangerous chance for the U.S. Casey tried to get on the end of the service but slipped in the goal mouth and Honduran ‘keeper Noel Valladares was able to get enough of a hand on it to put it out of danger.
The attack that led to the penalty kick started on the back line with Oguchi Onyewu. The central defender played a long ball through looking for Altidore, but Honduran defender Mario Beata knocked the ball down inside the area with his hand preventing Donovan from getting an opportunity at goal. Donovan stepped up and rifled the ball high past Valladares to level the score just two minutes before halftime.
Bradley exchanged Benny Feilhaber for Pablo Mastroeni to start the second half, and Feilhaber quickly got involved as the U.S. continued to control the pace of the game. In the 61st minute, Feilhaber crossed the ball from the left side into the box to Dempsey who was streaking to the far post. The Fulham midfielder lunged at the ball, but didn’t get a proper touch and missed the frame.
The game-winning goal came in the 68th minute on one of Donovan’s three corner kicks of the night. Donovan sent a driven ball in from the left side that went past the far post to Dempsey. Dempsey out-jumped his defender and headed the ball down and back in front of goal, where Bocanegra dove to head the bouncing ball into net from close range.
Minutes after scoring, Bocanegra went down with a hamstring strain, handing Jay DeMerit the task of helping to hold onto the lead in just his second career World Cup qualifier. For the rest of the game, the U.S. was content to hold possession, but had to fend off late attacks from Honduras as they started pressing for the equalizer. The Catrachos took risks late in the game and they nearly paid off.
In the 82nd minute, Danilo Turcios had a golden opportunity as he got to the end of a long cross into the box, but his effort at the far post from close range went barely over Howard’s goal. Minutes later, a slotted ball into the box nearly got to Walter Martinez, but instead bounced up and over his foot. Despite getting a hand on it, Howard couldn’t clear the ball out of danger, but Onyewu slid in just ahead of Costly and cleared it out of bounds.
The U.S. will depart on Monday for South Africa to prepare for its opening match of the FIFA Confederations Cup on June 15 against Italy in Tshwane/Pretoria. The Americans continue the eight-team tournament against Brazil on June 18 before moving to Rustenberg to round out group play on June 21 against Egypt.
After the Confederations Cup, the U.S. will continue its busy summer by defending the CONCACAF Gold Cup title. The 2009 edition of the regional championship kicks off on July 4 against Grenada at Qwest Field in Seattle and continues on July 8 against Honduras in Washington, D.C., and July 11 against Haiti in Foxborough, Mass
Earlier today, Australia, Japan and South Korea became the first three teams to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Australia advanced with a scoreless draw against Qatar, while South Korea defeated UAE 2-1 and Japan sneaked past Uzbekistan 1-0 to earn their spot in the World Cup Finals.
Match: United States vs. Honduras
Date: June 6, 2009
Competition: FIFA World Cup Qualifying; Final Round
Venue: Soldier Field – Chicago
Kickoff: 7:27 p.m. CT
Weather: Partly cloudy, 53 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
HON 1 0 1
HON – Carlos Costly (Carlos Pavon) 5th minute
USA – Landon Donovan (penalty) 43
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (Clint Dempsey) 68
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 12-Jonathan Spector, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.) (14-Jay DeMerit, 71), 13-Jonathan Bornstein; 8-Clint Dempsey, 2 -Ricardo Clark, 4-Pablo Mastroeni (9-Benny Feilhaber, 46), 10-Landon Donovan; 11-Conor Casey (7-DaMarcus Beasley, 75), 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 18-Brad Guzan, 6-Marvell Wynne, 15-Charlie Davies, 16-Sacha Kljestan
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
HON: 18-Noel Vallardes; 14-Mauricio Sabillon, 2-Osman Chavez, 6-Mario Beata, 3-Maynor Figueroa; 13-Carlos Costly, 7-Amado Guevara (capt.), 4-Hendry Thomas, 10-Ramon Nunez (15-Walter Martinez, 79); 9-Carlos Pavon (16-Georgie Welcome, 67), 8-Wilson Palacios (17-Danilo Turcios, 66)
Subs not used: 1-Junior Morales, 5-Erick Norales, 11-Allan Lalin, 12-Emilio Izaguirre
Head Coach: Reinaldo Rueda
Stats Summary: USA / HON
Shots: 9 / 9
Shots on Goal: 3 / 4
Saves: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 3 / 3
Fouls: 17 / 15
Offside: 2 / 4
USA – Conor Casey (caution) 20th minute
HON – Mario Beata (caution) 41
USA – Landon Donovan (caution) 62
Referee: Mauricio Morales (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Fourth Official: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
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