Clint Dempsey was on target twice last night as the USA defeated Honduras in their opening game of the 2015 Gold Cup – something of a redemption for the Sounders’ midfielder who lost the captaincy to Michael Bradley as a result of his epic actions towards the referee in the Open Cup loss to the Timbers.
Facing the US it was expected that Honduras might have played a very defensive game, packing the midfield and trying to hit the opposition on the counter. As it was the Hondurans quickly took the game to the USA, almost scoring after just two minutes, Brad Guzon forced into making a good save from a shot by Anthony Lozano. Guzon was again called into action shortly after when ex-DC United midfielder had a pop from distance.
For the first 20 minutes plus the Hondurans looked to be the better side, skillful, penetrating and fast but, despite this pressure it was to be the US who would take the lead in the 25th minute.
A poor clearance from a corner was fired back in by Jody Altidore and while Escober made a great save, the ball bounced into the air and was met by the head of Dempsey, who directed it straight into the goal from eight yards out.
The goal settled the US somewhat, though Honduras were still looking dangerous as they repeatedly hit the USA on the break, Najar firing just over the bar as the half came to a close.
The US come out in the second half looking better, helped by the fact that the game had slowed somewhat. They probably would have been under more pressure though if the Hondurans didn’t insist on taking every shot from distance…
USA doubled their lead in the 63rd minute from another set piece after Bradley’s deep ball was again met by an unmarked Dempsey in the box who nodded it in from five yards out.
Honduras got one back just over five minutes later when substitute Catlos Discua decided to play into the box rather than shooting from outside it. Outwitting Alvarado, he fired the ball into the net at the near post.
Several more chances were to follow for the Hondurans in the last 20 minutes but they were unable to take advantage of them as the US held on for the win.
All in all the USA will have to perform much better in their next games if they are to have a chance of keeping the Gold Cup. Honduras however can take heart in a fine performance, albeit against a US team that rarely shined.