KRIS LINDSAY - Wednesday, June 19, 2013
United States vs Honduras
World Cup Qualifying - Tuesday June 18, 2013
Rio Tinto Stadium
Jozy Altidore scored in his fourth consecutive game, and the USA placed a solid foot in Brazil, taking nine points from this qualifying round against a depleted Honduras.
Altidore's strike in the 73rd minute was enough to break the stingy Honduran defense and give the Americans the victory.
Honduras got the first good look at goal in the tenth minute. A Jermaine Jones foul gave Honduran midfielder Mario Martinez a dangerous free kick at the top of the box. Jones was also greeted with a yellow card, meaning that he will miss the next match. Martinez's free kick bounced off the wall, and was cleared out.
The United States controlled the much of the possession in the first half, although they were rewarded with few quality chances. In the 17th minute, the Americans found their first quality chance on a deep cross from Fabian Johnson that found Eddie Johnson in the center of the box. His one time shot was stopped by Honduran keeper Noel Valladares in the bottom left corner.
A difficult moment ensued for the Hondurans as striker Carlo Costly left the field with an apparent leg injury in the 35th minute, with forward Roger Rojas coming on to replace him.
The defense from Honduras stood firm, following a game plan of holding and getting a chance on a counter. "You could see what they were doing, they had everybody behind the ball, they were time wasting, and playing for a draw. It was frustrating," described captain Clint Dempsey.
The second half brought a spark for the USA, who continued to press forward. In the 70th minute, Midfielder Graham Zusi streaked down the left side, sending a cross curling to the top of the six yard box. The cross found captain Clint Dempsey, who headed the ball straight at Valladares. The rebound spilled out to Michael Bradley, who blasted the rebound just over the bar.
The break through finally came in the 73rd minute. Zusi found a cutting Fabian Johnson, who sliced across the left side of the box, and placed a soft ball to Jozy Altidore, who finished past Valladares in the far corner of the net.
With the goal, Jozy has now scored in four consecutive games, dating back to the friendly against Germany, scoring in each of the qualifiers this round. "The work that Jozy does for this team is awesome," said head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "The energy he provides is very important to the team."
Jozy nearly added to his total minutes later, cutting in the right side of the box, and curling a shot within the reach of Valladeres in the 78th minute.
The win for the Americans gives them nine points in the last three World Cup Qualifying matches, securing them in first place in the Hexagonal with 13 points. "You can't ask for a better situation," described Dempsey. "I think we are one win away from the World Cup."
Tim Howard added on: "It's been a hugely successful summer, we know what point total gets you to the World Cup and we are almost there."
The United States will take a break from international play, resuming their bid for World Cup qualification in September against Costa Rica.