Honduras vs. USA: Final score 2-1, Catrachos strike late to down USMNT in Hex opener

Marc Serota

The United States went up 1-0, but Honduras answered with two goals of their own to upend the Americans in San Pedro Sula.

Away in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, a draw does the job, but when the United States went up 1-0 in the 36th minute, their thoughts turned grander. Unfortunately, things only went downhill from there. Their lead lasted just four minutes as Juan Carlos Garica got Honduras level before Jerry Bengston earned Honduras a 2-1 win with a 79th minute tally.

The loss is hardly crippling to the U.S. After all, losing away in CONCACAF qualifying is the norm, not the exception, but it is disappointing against a Honduras team playing without Wilson Palacios, Emilio Izaguirre and Andy Najar.

The match started chippy, which is hardly a shock, and the referee swallowed his whistle, making for a physical start. Honduras took advantage and created a good chance for Bengston in the seventh minute, which forced Tim Howard into a good dave. Honduras then forcing Howard into action again in the 33rd minute.

But despite conceding most of the early chances, it was the U.S. who scored the opener. Jermaine Jones hit a lovely chip over the top for Clint Dempsey, whose cool finish handed the Americans an early lead.

The U.S. couldn't get on the front foot despite going in front, though. They continued conceding space to Honduras and did not command their box, which burnt them in the 40th minute. They failed to adequately clear a Honduras corner and allowed the Catrachos to put a second ball in the box. That set up Garcia, who hit a sublime bicycle kick to stun the U.S. and ignite the Estadio Olimpico crowd.

The second half looked a lot like the first, only the U.S. tired in the hot, humid San Pedro Sula weather and any hope of adding pressure on the Honduras midfield faded. They were largely secure at the back and dealt with most problems, but every once in a while the defense would just completely break down.

11 minutes from time, the U.S. defense broke down again and this time Honduras made them pay. Geoff Cameron didn't track Boniek Garcia's run and Howard was very slow off his line, allowing Honduras to get a golden chance. When Omar Gonzalez failed to run with Bengston, Garcia just had to hit a simple square ball for Bengston, who was all by himself to knock the ball into the empty net.

The U.S. couldn't generate any chances late and worse, couldn't turn Honduras over. They were unable to win the ball back as time slowly ticked away. When the referee blew for the final whistle, the U.S. was rightfully disappointed, but the better team won. The key now is making sure the U.S. is better at home, where they need to take three points in six weeks time.

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