FRISCO: Clint Dempsey scored twice as the US men’s national team began their CONCACAF Gold Cup title defence on Tuesday by holding on to beat Honduras 2-1 at Toyota Stadium.
Dempsey scored on either side of halftime for the favoured Americans who came into the tournament riding a four-match friendly win streak and now move to the top of Group A standings with three points.
“It wasn’t our best game, but we are happy to get three points from our first game,” said Dempsey of the US which has reached the final of the past five Gold Cups, winning three.
The Americans and Hondurans are joined in Group A by Haiti and Panama, who played to a 1-1 draw in the first game of the 12-team, 19-day tournament’s opening day doubleheader.
The US, who have 16 players of the Gold Cup team that played in last year’s World Cup, opened the scoring Tuesday off a scramble in front of the goal.
Dempsey was in the right place at the right time when Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escober kicked a Jozy Altidore rebound right to him in the centre of the box and he made no mistake nodding it home in front of the crowd of 22,300.
Dempsey made it 2-0 on another header, but this time off a free kick.
His leap from in front wasn’t perfect but it was high enough to get his head on a piece of the ball and deflect it past a flatfooted Escober in the 63rd minute.
Substitute Carlos Discua cut the US lead to one goal just five minutes later with a clever move to split the US defense and hammer a shot over the left shoulder of goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s US side will next face Haiti in group play on Friday in Boston.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Alberto Quintero began the scoring in the 55th minute for Panama, who were the surprise team of the last Gold Cup in 2013 when they finished runner-up to the US.
Duckens Nazon got the equaliser in the 85th minute for Haiti, who are making their sixth appearance in the regional tournament.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2015.
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