Altidore scores again as U.S. edges Honduras
Sandy, UT (Sports Network) - Jozy Altidore found the back of the net for the fourth consecutive match on Tuesday as the United States hung on to top Honduras, 1-0, in 2014 World Cup qualifying at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Entering the final round of CONCACAF qualifying, Altidore was widely criticized due to his lack of scoring for his country as the AZ Alkmaar man had not scored while donning a United States kit in over a year.
But he has rounded into form at the perfect time as his tally in the 73rd minute lifted Jurgen Klinsmann's club to its third consecutive win and puts the Americans one step closer to securing a 2014 World Cup berth.
These clubs last met in the first match of the hexagonal round of qualifying, as the United States suffered a 2-1 loss to Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Feb. 6.
The visitors had the first quality chance of the match six minutes in with a free kick on the right side of the pitch just outside the box, but the cross sailed well out of play.
The United States was pushed back a bit by Honduras over the majority of the opening 45 minutes, but the Americans' best chance to score in the first half came in the 17th minute.
Fabian Johnson, who was moved to left back by Klinsmann to fill in for DaMarcus Beasley due to yellow card suspension, set the opportunity in motion when he whipped a cross into the area from the left flank for Eddie Johnson. Johnson got a good shot away, but Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares was there to make the save.
Honduras' best chance to score in the first half came right at the death when former D.C. United man Andy Najar intercepted a sloppy ball from U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez in midfield and was allowed to dribble into the United States penalty area unimpeded.
Najar ripped a shot on target with pace, but U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard was there for the easy catch to keep the match scoreless at the break.
The United States picked up the pace in the second half and had several quality scoring chances before finally breaking through in the 73rd minute.
Graham Zusi, who returned to the starting 11 after missing last week's match against Panama, got the eventual scoring play started with a clever flick through the Honduras backline to Fabian Johnson. Johnson then sent a low, first-time cross into the box from the left wing and Altidore smashed it home from close range to put the hosts in front.
Honduras pushed for an equalizer hoping to steal a point on the road, but the American defense held strong to secure an important three points.
The Americans improved to 10-2-2 all-time at home against Honduras, and extended their home unbeaten streak in World Cup qualifying to 25 consecutive matches, posting a 23-0-2 record over that span.
The victory keeps the United States atop the hexagonal group with 13 points from six matches. The Americans will next be in action on July 9 against Belize in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and will continue their quest for a World Cup berth against Costa Rica on Sept. 6.
Elsewhere in CONCACAF on Tuesday, Bryan Ruiz and Celso Borges scored second- half goals as Costa Rica rolled to a 2-0 win over Panama.
06/19 00:04:42 ET