Honduras rallied for a 2-1 home win against the U.S., Jamaica earned a goalless tie in Mexico and Costa Rica got a 2-2 draw in Panama as the last stage of qualifying for the 2014 soccer World Cup got under way in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Clint Dempsey gave the U.S. the lead after 36 minutes at the Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula yesterday. Juan Carlos Garcia tied it three minutes later and Jerry Bengtson got the winning goal for Honduras in the 79th minute.
“There were too many mistakes done and too many players today just didn’t reach their usual potential,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann told reporters. “We didn’t find our passing flow, we didn’t combine well enough, we didn’t hold the ball well enough.”
The defeat is the first for the U.S. since 1989 in the opening game of the final round of World Cup qualifying. After failing to play in the World Cup from 1954 through 1986, the U.S. has qualified for every edition since 1990, making the quarterfinals in 2002 and the round of 16 in 1994 and 2010.
Dempsey got his 31st goal for the national team with a volley over goalkeeper Noel Valladares. Garcia tied it with an overhead kick from about 10 yards (9 meters) and Bengtson tapped into an empty net when U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard failed to win the ball after rushing out of his goal to thwart an attack.
Before yesterday, the U.S. had won nine of 10 meetings with Honduras and all three of its prior games in San Pedro Sula.
The Americans next host Costa Rica on March 22 in Commerce City, Colorado.
Jamaica earned a 0-0 draw last night at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, where Mexico has lost one World Cup qualifier since the stadium opened in 1966. Mexico is the highest-ranked Concacaf country, at No. 15 in FIFA’s rankings, 43 places ahead of Jamaica.
In Panama City, the home team led 2-0 after 27 minutes through goals by Luis Henriquez and Roman Torres. Alvaro Saborio scored for Costa Rica five minutes before halftime and Brian Ruiz tied it in the 84th minute.
The top three teams in the Concacaf region advance to the World Cup, with the fourth-place finisher entering a two-game playoff against the winner of the Oceania group.
Soccer’s global championship is scheduled from June 12 to July 13, 2014, in Brazil.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at firstname.lastname@example.org.