Dempsey brace leads US over Honduras to open Gold Cup

Published Tuesday, July 7, 2015 11:18 PM by Shane Barrow
Dempsey brace leads US over Honduras to open Gold Cup

Honduras arrived in Frisco, Texas with a tall task ahead of them. To open the 2015 Gold Cup they drew the hosts and were sporting a young lineup with 12 players under the age of 25.  Honduras were facing a veteran American squad with only one thing on their mind.  A Gold Cup championship.  Coach Jurgen Klinsmann brought a squad featuring 16 players that went to the Brazil World Cup last year.  It would be all business for the USA.  Would a young, yet talented Honduras side be able to keep up?

It took about two minutes to figure out what type of match this was going to be.  The pace was fast.  The players were focused and the crowd was electric.  Honduras forced a Brad Guzan save and soon after earned a pair of corner kicks serving notice they would not go quietly on this night.  The Americans wanted to push the match, but it was Honduras on the front foot early on.

The main thing we learned over the next ten minutes of play was that the referee from Mexico was in over his head.  Obviously not up to this level of play was the quality of Cesar Ramos.  The US players would need to adapt or suffer from his actions the rest of the night.

Twenty two minutes in and the Americans still didn't have their legs under them.  The possession was labored and the resulting long balls were hopeful at best.  Bradley, Beckerman and Dempsey would need to start linking up or the US would have a long evening.

When things aren't going right there is always one thing the US men can always count on.  A set piece.  Tried and true the Americans are deadly on the set piece.  25th minute and the corner kick came.  Bradley flight end the ball into the Honduras box where it fell for Jozy Altidore who fired a low shot on frame.  Keeper Donis Escobar went down to make the save but the rebound popped up perfectly for the waiting Clint Dempsey to nod home.   1-0 to the United States.

Suddenly the Americans sprung to life.  The early energy of Honduras ebbed and it was time for the Stars and Stripes.  DeAndre Yedlin forced a smart save from Escobar or the lead would have been doubled on the half hour mark.

Honduras fired the final punch of the opening half as Andy Najar tossed away the Yedlin challenge and blasted a shot from twenty yards that skimmed the top of the net as it whizzed just above the crossbar.  Halftime with the U.S. Men narrowly ahead.

It was a sloppy start to the second half as the Americans were once again having trouble stringing passes together.  The most noticeable were the simple five and ten yard balls that they continually were missing.  Timmy Chandler was in particularly bad form.  The team would need to be much sharper in the weeks ahead if they were going to win this Gold Cup.

Despite all the sloppiness the US doubled their lead in the 64th minute from another set piece.  Michael Bradley curled in a wonderful ball from the left wing that Clint Dempsey met on the back post with a glancing header into the side net. 2-0 USA.

Honduras got back in the game in the 70th minute as a nifty series of passes sprung Carlos Discua in on the American goal.  As Brad Friedel went down Discua expertly finished over the top of him and we had a game again.  It would be a good early test for the Americans as they would have to close out a tight game.

Honduras had one final chance in the final minute of stoppage time as Bryan Acosta lined up a free kick from 29 yards out.  His shot was blocked by the wall and the final whistle blew.  USA 2 Honduras 1

Not the greatest effort from the US men, but a win is a win in the opening game of a major tournament.  Honduras should be encouraged by their performance.  They are going to be a tough out in this Gold Cup and could be a potential opponent for a Mexico or Costa Rica in the quarterfinals.