After a lackluster first half on Tuesday, USA ultimately found net against Honduras in 2014 World Cup qualifying action, going on to a 1-0 victory.
And guess who the hero was?
That's right: Jozy Altidore.
Honduras showed some life early, making Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler work on defense, but the ball was cleared without incident. Roger Espinoza showed some touch seven minutes in, nutmegging Jermaine Jones and drawing a foul from Eddie Johnson. The free kick was well wide.
After a quick break from USA, the Americans earned a corner kick in the eighth minute. Graham Zusi delivered a nice ball, but Brad Evans headed it just wide. Michael Bradley expertly drove through the Honduran defense at the 10-minute mark, but Zusi's cross wasn't accurate.
Moments later, Espinoza threatened again, forcing Jones into a foul and a yellow card right outside the box. But the ensuing kick went into USA's wall, and a crisis was averted.
Andrew Das of the New York Times quipped:
In the 17th minute, Fabian Johnson sent in a beautiful cross that Altidore one-timed, but Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares made a great diving save.
Play continued with USA looking for chances on the Honduran side of the pitch, but not threatening too much. That included a pass that sailed from Jones, who wasn't making the most of his start early in the match.
It dragged on for a while, as USA controlled possession until the side needed it in meaningful spots.
Thirty-four minutes in, Jones showed some life, drawing a foul and a yellow card on Honduras defender Arnold Peralta on a strong run down the pitch. But Clint Dempsey's free kick swung into Honduras' wall.
Derek Rae of ESPNFC.com tweeted:
Two minutes later, Bradley just missed Eddie Johnson, who would have surely had a goal if the pair had connected.
It became apparent in the first half that Honduras was choosing to allow more possession to USA in the midfield while sitting back and cutting off through balls.
The Americans responded by playing rather sloppy soccer, failing to create many opportunities and giving away possession with ill-advised fouls. Espinoza was certainly a part of that, proving to be a pest for USA.
In the 45th minute, USA survived a scare that would have surely put pressure on the side.
After Besler gave away the ball, Honduras midfielder Andy Najar took advantage driving down the right side of the pitch before shooting a dangerous ball goalkeeper Tim Howard's way. But the talented American made a brilliant save, keeping the match scoreless.
Through one half of play, Honduras had held USA to only three shots (one on goal), even though the Americans held possession for 66 percent of the time.
At the 49-minute mark of the second half, Graham Zusi swung a nice cross Gonzalez's way off a free kick, but Gonzalez mistimed his jump and his header was sent wide.
The Americans received a free kick in the 55th minute. Zusi sent another strong cross Brad Evans' way, but yet again, USA failed to score, as Evans headed the ball right to the keeper. The US had yet another chance to score in the box at 64 minutes, but Zusi's shot hit the post. It may have been a handball on the defense off the rebound, but there was no call from the ref.
Dempsey had a clear shot at goal in the 68th minute, but he swung it wide. Two minutes later, his diving header was saved. Off the rebound, Bradley had a chance, but shot it over the post.
But USA's persistence paid off shortly after, as Altidore erased a so-so outing to once again score for the American side in qualifying. Off a through ball from Dempsey, Fabian Johnson found Altidore in the middle, who swung it home.
Paul Carr of ESPN Stats & Info tweeted:
Honduras' Wilson Palacios and Jose Velasquez were both given yellow cards down the stretch.
Besler cut off a well-placed cross by Honduras in the 85th minute, continuing to be sound after the first-half turnover.
Honduras showed some life down the stretch with one last-ditch attempt, but the Americans held on for a 1-0 victory.
The United States will face Costa Rica at Ricardo Saprissa on Sept. 6 to begin the fall slate. Honduras will play Mexico on the same day at Azteca Stadium.
The Americans lead the group with 13 points in six matches. Honduras has seven points.
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