WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 8, 2009) — Second half goals by Santino Quaranta and Brian Ching four minutes apart fired the U.S. to a 2-0 victory against Honduras and the top spot in Group B before an enthusiastic crowd of 26,079 at RFK Stadium.
The U.S. currently sits in first place in Group B as the only team with six points after two games. Honduras and Haiti each have three points, while Grenada sits in last place with zero. A win or a tie for the U.S. against Haiti in their final group match on Saturday, July 11, in Foxborough, Mass., would clinch the top spot in the group. With a five-goal advantage over second place Haiti in goal differential, the U.S. could also still finish first or second in the group even with a first-ever loss in group play in the Gold Cup. Their current all-time record stands at 22-0-3 through 10 regional championship appearances.
“We knew that this would be a good challenge tonight,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley. “Honduras is a good team and this was the game that was going to go a long ways towards determining who would finish first in the group. I thought the response of our team was quite good. Games like this there's got to be a good collective effort from start to finish, you have to have the ability at certain points to bring on subs who help and in all ways I thought it was a good solid team effort.”
For each of the goal scorers, the match marked a return to international action after a layoff – although Quaranta’s was by far the most notable and longest. The 24-year-old, who was a member of the U.S. Gold Cup champion team in 2005 and made his most recent appearance more than three years ago, provided a storybook return by netting the game-winner – and first career international goal – in his home stadium in front of family and friends.
Quaranta broke the deadlock after a nice build-up that started on the right sideline when Chad Marshall reacted quickly to step around his man and win the ball just across the midfield line. The ball found the feet of Heath Pearce and he squared the ball for Benny Feilhaber, who entered the game only 10 minutes earlier. Feilhaber played a quick combination with Ching and then found his fellow substitute Charlie Davies with his back to goal about 16 yards out. Holding off his man, Davies smartly guided the ball to his right toward a charging Quaranta near the top of the box and the D.C. United midfielder directed a hard, first-time shot low and to the left of goalkeeper Donis Escobar.
“It was a very special night for me, personally,” said Quaranta. “But to be back wearing the jersey was probably more special. Just to be back with the team and to listen to the anthem was very emotional for me because it's been such a fun and long road back. It was a special night.”
The goal took the wind out of the Hondurans’ sails, and off a restart in the 79th-minute the U.S. doubled the lead. Ching, who hadn’t played for the U.S. since April 1 due to a hamstring strain, drew a foul trying to turn with the ball 40 yards from goal on the left side of midfield, and after Honduras brought on Georgie Welcome for Carlos Costly, Feilhaber quickly restarted play and switched the ball to Steve Cherundolo who had acres of space on the right side. Cherundolo served a cross into the six-yard box, where Ching out jumped his defender and headed the ball off Nery Medina’s shoulder and into the top of the net.
The goal was Ching’s 10th of his career, becoming the 18th player in U.S. history to tally double digits in his career. It was also Ching’s second career Gold Cup goal, with the last coincidentally coming in the second group match of the 2007 Gold Cup.
The two goals were well deserved as the U.S. controlled most of the pace throughout the match even though both teams had chances during the scoreless first half in front of a festive atmosphere charged by partisan fans supporting both sides.
Bradley brought in three new faces to the starting lineup from the Group B against Grenada on July 4 by Quaranta starting on the right, Ching starting at forward, and Michael Parkhurst stepping into the back line.
The U.S. got the first chance in the 15th minute when a series of passes and a nice flick from Freddy Adu put Robbie Rogers through to the baseline. He chipped a ball to the penalty spot, where a charging Quaranta put a diving header just wide. Seven minutes later, Kyle Beckerman played Ching through the back line but was shouldered off as he attempted to shoot and slipped the ball past the goalkeeper but off target before it was cleared.
After the U.S. had grabbed control of possession, finding space on the wings for the combination of Robbie Rogers and Pearce on the left and Cherundolo on the right making advances, Honduras began claiming the momentum in the last 15 minutes of the first half with pressure on the U.S.
In the 30th minute, the U.S adverted disaster after a bad giveaway in midfield providing a quick counter for Honduras. In behind the U.S. defense and all alone, Walter Martinez had only Troy Perkins to beat. Choosing to go near post, his effort struck the outside of the side netting.
The U.S. had two more scoring opportunities in the 34th and 38th minute. Adu’s golden chance came as the U.S. countered off a Honduran free kick. Ching sent Pearce off to the races down the left wing, where he picked out Adu alone 10 yards out, but his header went straight into the hands of Escobar. Four minutes later, Rogers hit a bouncing volley over the crossbar on a back-post cross by Quaranta.
The second half opened with neither team staking claim, although as the game carried on the U.S. began playing downhill. Bradley went to his bench in the 64th minute and brought on a pair of veterans from the team that finished second at the Confederations Cup, bringing on Davies and Feilhaber in favor of Adu and Logan Pause, respectively.
The hustle of Davies saw the U.S. nearly steal a goal in the 71st minute. As Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escobar received a back pass and set up to clear, Davies closed quickly and blocked the kick, sending the ball towards the Honduran goal. Mercifully for Honduras, it lacked the pace to cross the line and Escobar was able to collect.
Four minutes later, Quaranta put the U.S. ahead and Ching followed suit to put the game away. After the second goal, Kenny Cooper replaced Ching and the U.S., through the work of Feilhaber’s fresh legs, kept possession to finish off the game. Cooper ended up with three shots, but none could beat Escobar.
In stoppage time, Perkins was called upon one final time as Honduras had a free kick from 30 yards out. As Honduras pushed their attackers forward for a cross at the far post, Martinez attempted a surprise shot, but Perkins pushed the blast wide of his left post to preserve his second shutout in three appearances.
Following tonight’s match, both Adu and Feilhaber will join their clubs in Europe to begin preseason training for the upcoming season.
The U.S. improved to 12-3-3 at RFK Stadium, and closes out Group B play at against Haiti on July 11 in another familiar location, Foxborough, Mass., where the U.S. is 16-1-4 all time, including a 6-0-1 record in the Gold Cup at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff on Saturday is 7 p.m. ET live on Fox Soccer Channel, TeleFutura and the Futbol de Primera Radio Network.
Haiti currently sits in second place in the group with three points and a plus-one goal differential, following a 2-0 victory against Grenada in the first match of the evening. Honduras is third with three points and a minus-one goal differential, and faces Grenada on Saturday. Tickets for the Foxborough doubleheader are available at goldcup.org.
Match: United States vs. Honduras
Date: July 8, 2009
Competition: CONCACAF Gold Cup – Group Stage
Venue: RFK Stadium – Washington, D.C.
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Attendance: 26, 079
Weather: 71 degrees, mostly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
HON 0 0 0
USA – Santino Quaranta (Charlie Davies) 75 minute
USA – Brian Ching (Steve Cherundolo) 79
USA: 1-Troy Perkins; 6-Steve Cherundolo (capt.), 4-Chad Marshall, 14-Michael Parkhurst, 2-Heath Pearce; 20-Santino Quaranta, 8-Logan Pause (25- Benny Feilhaber, 64), 5-Kyle Beckerman, 7-Robbie Rogers; 11-Brian Ching (17-Kenny Cooper, 82), 19-Freddy Adu (9-Charlie Davies, 64)
Subs not used: 10-Stuart Holden, 16-Jay Heaps, 18-Luis Robles, 21-Brad Evans
Head Coach: Bob Bradley
HON: 22-Donis Escober; 5-Erick Norales, 11-Mariano Acevedo, 2-Osman Chavez, 16-Nery Medina; 14-Carlos Palacios, 23-Roger Espinoza (7-Rigoberto Padilla, 70), 18-Melvin Valladares, 13-Carlos Costly (24-Georgie Welcome, 79); 10-Marvin Chavez (8-Allan Lalin, 65), 15-Walter Martínez (capt.)
Subs not used: 3-David Molina, 4-Johnny Palacios, 12-Ricardo Canales, 21-Luis Ramos
Head Coach: Reynaldo Rueda
Stats Summary: USA / HON
Shots: 16 / 6
Shots on Goal: 6 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 8 / 2
Fouls: 15 / 8
Offside: 1 / 8
HON – Nery Medina (caution) 38th minute
USA – Heath Pearce (caution) 40
USA – Michael Parkhurst (caution) 90
HON – Walter Martínez (caution) 93+
Referee: Courtney Campbell (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Ricardo Morgan (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: José Luis Camargo (MEX)
Fourth Official: Walter Quesada (CRC)
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