US Rebounds With 2-1 Win Over Honduras

Bob Bradley’s players put in a much improved effort and walked out of Soldier Field 2-1 winners on Saturday night.
Chicago, Illinois- Bob Bradley brought his charges into Chicago’s Soldier field on Saturday night in need of a win to keep pace with Hexagonal group leaders Costa Rica and to keep their distance from the bottom half of the group. 

Coming off a 3-1 loss to the Ticos on Wednesday, Bradley revamped his lineup to include four fresh faces with Conor Casey starting up front, Ricardo Clark in the middle of the field in place of the suspended Michael Bradley, and the two Jonathans- Spector and Bornstien- stepping in at the right and left back spots, respectively. 

Just three points behind the U.S. with a game in hand coming into Saturday’s contest, Honduras had plenty of reason to be searching for a win that would pull them into second place. 

The Hondurans came out with a well-balanced lineup, highlighted by the strike partnership of Carlos Costly and Carlos Pavon, and midfielders Amado Guevara and Wilson Palacios. 

In the end the home side proved too much , and came out 2-1 winners in a thrilling encounter. 

First Half: 

Unfortunately for the U.S., they started right where they left off on Wednesday night, with Honduras taking the game by the scruff of the neck with the early goal. In just the 5th minute the visitors took the lead. 

Clint Dempsey was dispossessed near midfield and Honduras wasted no time pushing the ball forward through Palacios. The Tottenham midfielder found Costly with space near the top of the box and his curling shot found the lower left corner. 

Dempsey tried to atone for the error moments later, when he slid in and tried to connect with a low cross from Jonathan Spector. But the Honduran defense was up to the task and Dempsey’s shot was knocked wide for a corner. 

The match settled down a bit, but was still at a frantic pace in the 13th when Landon Donovan was fouled as he and Conor Casey broke toward the Honduran box. The resulting set play was cleared easily, but a combination of headers from Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onyewu set the table for Donovan to get another crack at a good service. However, the second was no better than the first and Honduras escaped their first real test of the night. 

The US was back at it the 20th after Dempsey won a free kick in a nice area. Donovan’s delivery was wonderful to the back post, but it seemed to surprise Carlos Bocanegra when it fell to him. Again, the clearance was kept alive and served back into the mixer where Dempsey was barged from behind while attempting to put a header on goal. The challenge was ruled fair, and the match would continue, but the U.S. was showing signs of taking control of proceedings.  

Conor Casey had a glorious chance just moments later and again Dempsey was in the middle of things, challenging for a header. He lost the challenge, but forced a very weak clearance. The ball fell to Casey for a volley ten yards from goal. His shot was high and wide, though it was the best chance for the U.S. to that point of the match.  

In the 31st Dempsey and Spector combined nicely down the right, giving Spector more than enough time and space to pick his head up and whip in a good ball. But Honduran ‘keeper Noel Vallardes did extremely well to get a hand on the ball just in front of the sliding Casey and prevent a sure-fire equalizer.  

The game was clearly turning in favor of the home side even though they were trailing and in the 38th Clark had a sparkling run in to the area and seemed to have drawn a penalty when he was tackled from behind, but again the penalty cries were dismissed.  

But the cries would not be ignored in the closing minutes of the half when Honduran defender Mario Beata clearly handled the ball in his own area. Donovan stepped forward and buried the penalty, effectively sending the match to the break on level pegging. 

Second Half:   

Benny Feilhaber was brought on at the half to replace Mastoreni, but it was the only change made by either side during the break.  

Yet it was Honduras who opened on the front foot, earning a corner that nearly led to a goal in the opening minutes of the half. But the U.S. defense held strong and the match quickly settled into a back and forth struggle in the middle of the park. 

Dempsey got the first great look in the 61st, when a ball from Feilhaber found him unmarked at the back post, but simply put, the finish was lacking and the visitors escaped still level.  

The match would take a turn in the 69th when the U.S. finally took the lead off of a corner. The ball in from Donovan found Dempsey at the back post. Dempsey nodded down in front of goal and a diving Carlos Bocanegra poked it home with his head.  

The U.S. continued to hold the ball well, a stark contrast to Wednesday’s fiasco, and the talented Hondurans were forced to rely on balls over the top in search of Costly. Though the long balls were not effective they did produce a few moments of worry, and in the last ten minutes the Hondurans began to make a good push for the equalizer.  

Danilo Turcios had a good look from in front of goal but scuffed his shot over the bar , and Georgie Welcome looked to be in clear on goal only to stopped by a great tackle from Onyewu before he good get his shot off. 

In the end it was not to be for the visitors, and a much improved performance from the U.S. was enough to see the Red, White and Blue head to the Confederations Cup on a high note. 
 

Line Ups:

USA: Howard, Spector , Onyewu, Bocanegra (71), Bornstein, Dempsey, Clark, Mastroeni(46), Donovan, Altidore, Casey (75) . SUB: Feilhaber (46), DeMerit (71), Beasley (75)  

HON: Vallardes, Sabillon, Figueroa, Chaves, Beata, Nunez (79), Palacios (66), Guevara, Thomas, Pavon(66), Costly. SUBS: Turcios (66), Welcome (66), Martinez (79)  

Goals: 

Honduras: Costly 5

USA: Donovan 44

USA: Bocanegra 69 

Allen Ramsey, Goal.com

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