Sunday, October 11, 2009

USA headed to the World Cup

When Julio Leon scored two minutes into the second half, it looked like it would be another tough World Cup Qualifying road match for the United States.

Instead, the US resonded big time, as Conor Casey picked a great time to score his first two goals of his national team career and a goal off a set piece lifted the US to a 3-2 win over a feisty Honduras squad at Estadio Francisco Morazan at San Pedro Sula on Saturday night.

The win sends the US (to its sixth straight World Cup and preserves its lead over Mexico int he CONCACAF Hexagonal standings. Honduras slips to fourth in the standings after Costa Rica's 4-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago, so if the standings hold up, Honduras would be forced into a two-match playoff against the fifth place squad in CONMEBOL, which right now is Uruguay.

Julio Leon gave Honduras the lead in the 47th minute, as his set piece sailed past US Keeper Tim Howard to the left corner. It didn't take long though for the United States to get the Equalizer, as defender Oguchi Onyewu sent a long ball downfield to the Honduras box, where Charlie Davies headed the ball to Casey, who then beat Honduran keeper Noelle Valladares to the ball, heading it into the back net.

The US finally surged ahead in the 65th minute when Donovan sprung Casey loose with a perfect through ball and Casye chipped a shot past Valladares, beating him to the right post. The US added to its lead when Donovan sent a set piece free kick past Valladares to the same spot as Casey's second goal.

Still the US had to hold on in the final moments. Leon pulled one back for the Catrachos in the 78th minute when he caught Howard out of his line and shot the ball past Howard and several US players into the back net. Honduras then caught a break in the 85th minute when US midfielder Stuart Holden was called for a handball in the box, giving Honduras a penalty shot. However, former Galaxy player Carlos Pavon sent the shot over goal and the US breathed a huge sigh of relief. Pavon had a chance to redeem himself two minutes later when he had an open look at goal, but instead, added insult to injury as his open header also went harmlessly high.

The United States plays the last of its World Cup Qualifying matches on Wednesday, as it hosts Costa Rica at RFK Stadium.

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