United States not at 'our best' vs. Honduras, say Guzan, Dempsey
FRISCO, Texas -- Clint Dempsey and Brad Guzan were bright spots for the United States in a 2-1 Gold Cup opening win vs. Honduras, but both the former captain and the current goalkeeper admitted the team wasn't at its best for much of the night.
Dempsey scored twice on headers not far from where he trained as a youth, and the United States opened defense of its CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"It wasn't our best performance, but we're happy to get three points from our first game,'' Dempsey said, while adding he didn't view a wild sellout crowd as a pro-Texas bunch celebrating two goals by a hometown kid.
The East Texas native thinks American soccer supporters are a lot more fervent than that now.
"I think the crowd was behind the whole team,'' said the 32-year-old, who is up to 43 international goals, 14 behind Landon Donovan's American record.
"I remember when I first started with the national team and they'd be more fans for the other team sometimes. So to be able nowadays to play in front of pro-American crowds, I think the team definitely feeds off that energy.''
The win over Honduras was the first competitive match for the U.S. since losing to Belgium in overtime in the second round of last year's World Cup.
U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who had a couple of tough saves in the first few minutes, agreed with Dempsey's assessment of the team and credited Honduras for the things they did to cause his team problems.
"They came out and put us under a bit of pressure and we had to find a way to weather that storm, which we did,'' Guzan said.
"I don't think we were at our best. I think we turned the ball over quite easily too many times and maybe put ourselves under some undue pressure.''
The first U.S. goal developed when DeAndre Yedlin played a short corner kick to Bradley, who crossed on a bounce to the far post. Henry Figueroa's clearance attempt back to Bradley's side was picked up at the side of the 6-yard box by Jozy Altidore, who took a touch and shot. Goalkeeper Donis Escobar kicked the ball out with his right foot and it popped up to Dempsey, who nodded it in from 6 yards.
Bradley's free kick from the flank led to the second goal as well. Escobar stayed on his line and an unmarked Dempsey jumped 4 yards out and headed inside the far post.
Bradley, a son of former U.S. coach Bob Bradley, became the 16th American male to make 100 international appearances.
"Great atmosphere and a very special moment for Michael Bradley,'' U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.
Bradley replaced Dempsey, who lost the captaincy going into the Gold Cup after getting suspended by MLS and the U.S. Soccer Federation for a confrontation with a referee in a U.S. Open Cup match for Seattle. Those questions persist for Klinsmann, who considers them more irrelevant each day.
"As a striker, what do you want to do the most is scoring,'' said Klinsmann, who is tied for fourth on Germany's career scoring list. "That's what feeds a striker, feeling-wise, is goals.''
If the U.S. wins the Gold Cup, it would qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. If another nation wins, it would meet the Americans in a playoff for the Confederations Cup berth.