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U.S. encounters little resistance and blanks Grenada 4-0 in Gold Cup.

Despite surprising lead, U.S. wilts and Brazil wins Confederations Cup.

U.S. shocks Spain, advances to Confederations Cup final, with tenacious effort.

Strong effort sends U.S. past Egypt 3-0 and to improbable Confederations Cup semifinal berth.

American shortcomings are again obvious and Brazil wins easily in Confederations Cup.

Shorthanded Americans cannot hold off skillful Italy in Confederations Cup.

U.S. survives early lapse, to rally past Honduras in important qualifier.

Costa Rica humiliates Americans 3-1 in World Cup qualifier.

Hejduk, others unavailable as Americans visit Costa Rica for qualifier.

Altidore's three goals lead strong U.S. effort in win over T&T.

U.S. responds to poor effort with late rally to draw El Salvador 2-2.

U.S. continues home domination of Mexico by starting final qualifying with 2-0 victory.

Final round of World Cup qualifying opens with weakened Mexico.

Kljestan shines in dull U.S. victory over Sweden.

CONCACAF draw has Americans facing Mexico to open final round of qualifying.

Cooper, Adu lead U.S. to dominant, if meaningless, decision over Guatemala.

Qualifying loss to ascendant T&T means little to U.S. men.

Cooper says no to invitation to join U.S. team in qualifying.

U.S. bursts into final round of qualifying by demolishing Cuba 6-1.

Improved U.S. attack sinks T&T, nears advancement to final qualifying round.

Americans score first victory in Guatemala in ugly qualifier.

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Reserves provide lift, U.S. blanks Honduras 2-0 in Gold Cup.

By Robert Wagman

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Wednesday, July 8, 2009) -- The United States men guaranteed a berth in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals with a satisfying, if not altogether easy 2-0 victory over Group B foe Honduras tonight before an enthusiastic 26,079 at RFK Stadium here.

Perhaps two-thirds of the crowd wore the blue and white of Honduras, but the having a majority of the fan support did not produce any distinct advantage to the Central Americans, who fans left with little to cheer about.

A draw would have served Honduras well, and that's what it played for through 70-plus minutes. It didn't completely go into a defensive shell, but its strategy was to have 10 or all 11 players behind the ball whenever it came into its end of the field, waiting for a chance to quickly counter-attack. For the most part, the strategy worked, but the U.S. back-line was easily able to turn away these thrusts to the point that Honduras did not have a shot on the American goal until the 68th minute.

The U.S. did not do much better at the other end. The numbers of Honduran defenders effectively turned away most of the American attacks, leaving much of the game to be played in the midfield, something that caused the U.S. to grow increasingly frustrated.

The match turned in the 64th minute when U.S. coach Bob Bradley used two key substitutes, forward Charlie Davies and midfielder Benny Feilhaber. Almost immediately, the match began to go the turn the Americans' way.

Davies not only stretched the Honduran defense, but he took pressure off fellow striker Brian Ching, first by creating chances for himself then by providing service for Ching, something that had been largely absent.

Meanwhile, Feilhaber brought fresh legs and ability to the midfield, where he was able to control the ball and to make plays going forward.

The two subs and Ching combined in the 75th minute with a set of smart passes with Davies finally laying the ball off to advancing midfielder Santino Quaranta, who blasted a shot past goalkeeper Donis Escober to provide a 1-0 lead.

Four minutes later, Ching headed home a perfect cross from defender Steve Cherundolo to make it 2-0.

"We knew that this would be a good challenge tonight," Bradley said. "Honduras is a good team and this was the game that was going to go a long ways towards determining who would finish first in the group. I thought the response of our team was quite good. Games like this, there's got to be a good collective effort from start to finish, you have to have the ability at certain points to bring on subs who help and, in all ways, I thought it was a good solid team effort."

Just as the U.S. side was made up mostly of players who had not been called in for World Cup qualifying, Honduras coach Reynaldo Rueda only brought one player, forward Carlos Costly, who had started in qualifying against the U.S. at Soldier Field in Chicago last month.

The young Honduras squad did not play badly, at least over the first 70-plus minutes.

The U.S. (2-0) leads Group B with 6 points, followed by Honduras (1-1) and Haiti (1-1) with three points each with Grenada trailing at 0-2. The U.S. closes out group play Saturday in Foxborough, Mass., against Haiti at 7 p.m., a match televised on (Fox Soccer Channel).

Feilhaber and starting forward Freddy Adu will leave the U.S. team to return to Europe to begin their preseason club training, Adu to Portugal's Benfica and Feilhaber to AGF Aarhus of the Danish Superligaen.

U.S. Player Ratings


Goalkeeper Troy Perkins - 6: Was busier than he was on Saturday against Grenada and responded well to every ball that came into his box. Made a fine save late to preserve his clean sheet. Showed he has become a mature keeper.

Defender Steve Cherundolo - 8: Showed why he is the past and future of the U.S. men at right back. He is always composed, almost never out of position, deals easily with everything presented to him on defense and still gets forward delivering quality crosses as he did on the second U.S. goal. He is still not fully match-fit, coming off his April hip surgery, but he is ready to return to the first team.

Defender Chad Marshall - 5.5: Won every aerial dual of which there were quite a few as Honduras tried to get the ball to the tall Costly. Too often, he simply headed a ball away as opposed to heading it to a teammate, but overall he had a good performance.

Defender Michael Parkhurst - 6: Took him a bit of time to settle in, but then he played very well, covering quite a bit of ground in the back, roaming side to side to cover for Heath Pearce, who pushed forward into the midfield. This was the kind of performance that will give him more playing time.

Defender Heath Pearce - 5.5: Faced a lot of pace and responded well. Was beaten a few times, but without much damage.

Midfielder Santino Quaranta - 6.5: Ended up the U.S. hero, scoring the winning goal (his first ever for his national team) on the field of his club, D.C. United. However, during the first half he was hesitant, often not knowing when to go forward and when to lay back defensively. He got that sorted out in the second half and settled in and ended up with the key strike, which he hit perfectly.

Midfielder Logan Pause - 4.5: He was pressured all night in the crowded midfield. While he did fine at times, other times he lost balls or had problems. It was not a strong outing for him.

Midfielder Kyle Beckerman - 5: Played decently in the defensive midfield, but did not have much of an impact on the match.

Midfielder Robbie Rogers - 4.5: As good as he was on Saturday night against Grenada, he could do little right tonight. He had a few good moments, but very few, in what was hopefully just an off-night.

Forward Freddy Adu - 4.5: Another sub-par performance. He too had some good moments, good corner kicks and a good vision of the game around him, but too often he tried to take on multiple defenders and lost the ball when he had open teammates. Too often, his passes did not reach their intended targets.

Forward Brian Ching - 6.5: Received no service in the first half. His fine headed goal in the second half demonstrated he can be dangerous when he sees the ball.


Forward Charlie Davies (64th minute for Adu) - 7: Came in to give the U.S. an offensive spark and that's exactly what he did. He stretched the defense and caused all kinds of problems, and had the vision to make the key pass on the first American goal. With Adu gone, he should be the starter as the U.S. moves into the tournament.

Midfielder Benny Feilhaber (70th minute for Pause) - 7: Smoothly took over the midfield and, with fresh legs, controlled the ball, directed play and showed he is a first-team player with a bright future.

Forward Kenny Cooper (81st minute for Ching) - 5: In the closing 10-plus minutes, he managed to get off three shots, but none were dangerous.

SoccerTimes Player of the Match: Steve Cherundolo.

Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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