The United States menâ€™s national soccer team kicked off its defense of the Gold Cup with a gritty 2-1 win over Group A rival Honduras Tuesday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
Newly minted U.S. captain Michael Bradley earned his 100th cap for the national team in the win.
Honduras was physical from the opening whistle, which rattled the Americans in the opening minutes. The Hondurans used their aggressive play to manufacture the first scoring opportunity of the game just three minutes in.
Honduras forward Anthony Lozano broke free on the right side and fired it low to the back post, but U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan was up to the task and made a diving save to deflect the shot.
The Americans started to settle down as the game progressed and found the breakthrough of the match 25 minutes in.
The ball bounced around the box after Bradley whipped in a short corner. The ball eventually found the feet of Jozy Altidore, who struck the ball low and hard. Altidoreâ€™s shot was saved by Honduras goalkeeper Donis Escober, however the rebound went straight to Texas native Clint Dempsey, who headed the ball into the back of the net to put the Americans up 1-0.
The U.S. threatened to double up their lead just six minutes later when Fabian Johnson threaded a beautiful ball to a streaking DeAndre Yedlin down the center. This time, it was Escober who came up big to keep his side within one going into halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, the pace slowed considerably. But the Americans woke their fans back up in the 64th minute when the U.S. earned a free kick. Bradley sent in an in-swinger that found an unmarked Dempsey in the box, who scored his second header of the game to extend the American lead to the fan-favorite score of “dos a cero.”
Just as it seemed that the Americans were in firm control, Honduras Head Coach Jorge Luis Pinto made a key substitution.
Carlos Discua entered in the 69th minute, and just seconds later found himself on a breakaway after getting around U.S. defender Ventura Alvarado. Discua calmly rifled the ball over the left shoulder of Guzan to bring the Hondurans back within one.
Tired legs were creeping in at the 75 minute mark, allowing the game to open up. Honduras nearly found the equalizer on two occasions in the final 10 minutes. Romell Quioto sent in a cross to Eddie Hernandez at the back post in the 82nd minute. The goal was wide open for Hernandez, but he couldnâ€™t steer it towards goal as the Americans dodged a bullet.
Hernandez had another chance two minutes later as he spun around his defender at the top of the box, but his left-footed shot sailed wide right harmlessly as the U.S. would go on to hang on for the 2-1 win.
The U.S. will continue Group A play Friday with a 5:30 p.m. match against Haiti at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, while Honduras will look to rebound against Panama in the first game scheduled for Friday.