Oscar Boniek Garcia’s goal with about 12 minutes left in regulation lifted Honduras to a 2-1 win over the U.S. in a World Cup qualifier Wednesday in steamy San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
It was the first match of the final round of regional qualifying for both teams _ and the loss marked the first time the U.S. has lost its CONCACAF opener.
Garcia converted a deft pass from Jerry Bengtson, with Honduras taking advantage of miscues from U.S. defenders Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez. Cameron and Gonzalez were playing together for the first time on a backline that averaged 24 years of age after U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann elected to go with youth by benching former captain Carlos Bocanegra.
Even so, the result was a fair one since Honduras dominated play throughout.
The U.S. drew first blood with Jermaine Jones sending a soft chip forward for Clint Dempsey, whose right-footed volley cleared keeper Noel Valladares to give the Americans a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute.
The score was Dempsey’s 31st for the national team, breaking a tie with Brian McBride for third on the all-time list behind Landon Donovan (49) and Eric Wynalda (34).
Confusion in the U.S. defense helped Honduras pull even four minutes later when defender Juan Carlos Garcia scored on a bicycle kick from 12 yards.
The U.S. resumes World Cup qualifying March 22 against Costa Rica in Commerce City, Colo. The Americans must finish among the top three in the six-team regional tournament to assure themselves of a spot in Brazil next summer.