The German World Cup winner celebrated his first victory in four attempts following his appointment as Bob Bradley's successor at the helm of the American sideA rain storm and slight risk of a tornado in Miami may have kept the fans away, but the United States came ready to play in a game that was crucial for the team’s morale.
Looking for their first win under new head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the USA put pressure on Honduras early and often as they secured a 1-0 victory in Saturday’s entertaining international friendly at Sun Life Stadium.
Clint Dempsey scored in the first half off an assist from youngster Brek Shea to help the Americans improve their record to 1-2-1 since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley in July.
"We're happy to get our first win for our new manager and hopefully we can build on this," Dempsey said after the game.
Honduras had chances of their own as well, but a handful of impressive saves from US goalkeeper Tim Howard allowed the team to hold on to the clean sheet.
It took only 18 minutes before Honduras gave their hosts their first real scare as Jerry Bengtson found his way behind US defenders with a clear path to the goal. But Howard, in the one-on-one situation, stepped up and made a fine save.
Just over a minute later, Shea had an open goal at his mercy but watched the ball sail just over the crossbar. Another big chance followed as Maurice Edu got his head on a Steve Cherundolo free kick only to have it turned away by Honduras keeper Donis Escobar.
But it was just a matter of time before the US finally found the back of the net.
"I think after 20, 25 minutes we took over," Klinsmann said. "We created a lot more chances and I had the feeling that it was just a question of time until we score that first goal."
"I tried to hit it with my right foot and saw that it was going to get deflected so then I shifted the play to where I can get an open shot on goal," said Dempsey, who now has 23 international goals to his credit.
Dempsey’s powerful strike marked the first time the US had taken the lead in a game under the new management. It was also only the second goal in the team's last four games despite Klinsmann's focus on an attacking style of play.
Shea almost had a goal of his own in the 58th minute, but he slipped on the wet grass as he received a pass just a few feet away from the goal line.
"It wasn't the best condition for a game," Shea said.
As Honduras began to push the US back on their heels, Klinsmann replaced Danny Williams and Maurice Edu with veterans DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Bradley. The changes seemed to shift the momentum back to the Americans.
Dempsey had a headed 'goal' ruled out in the 84th minute after the referee claimed the midfielder had pushed a defender.
"For whatever reason it was disallowed," Klinsmann said. "It reminded us of Belgium. Two goals now that they've stolen from us, but that's the way it is."
But, unlike in the 1-0 loss to Belgium last month, this time the USA got the result they desperately wanted.
"I always want to win and I want to get the results right," Klinsmann added.
Klinsmann's roster, comprised of many veteran players with a few youngsters sprinkled into the mix, seemed to be the best of any he's chosen so far.
Williams was named in the starting XI as he made his national team debut. The German-born midfielder, who certified his US citizenship and obtained a passport on September 30, made an instant impact with his aggressive and physical play.
"He did the right things," Klinsmann said.
Even without Landon Donovan, who was ruled out of both friendlies this month due to a strained right quadriceps, the US looked better than they had since the Gold Cup.
Matthew Spitz of usfutblog.com contributed reporting to this article