Dempsey nets brace as U.S. holds off Honduras

Clint Dempsey (pictured) goes to celebrate after scoring one of his two goals in the USA's CONCACAF Gold Cup win over Honduras on July 7, 2015, in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: Mexsport)

FRISCO, Texas – Ten years to the day he scored his first CONCACAF Gold Cup goal, Clint Dempsey struck twice to lead the United States to a 2-1 Group A win over Honduras in both teams’ opening match of the 2015 competition on Tuesday.

The Americans, who improved to 13-0-0 in Gold Cup openers, moved into the early group lead with three points. Haiti and Panama, which played to a 1-1 draw in the opening game of the doubleheader at Toyota Stadium, each collected a point. Honduras has none.

After absorbing pressure in the opening 15 minutes, including a dangerous shot by Anthony Lozano that goalkeeper Brad Guzan parried away, the defending champion took the lead in the 25th minute.

Honduras was unable to clear a Michael Bradley cross off a short corner. The ball fell to Jozy Altidore, whose shot from the edge of the six-yard box was saved by goalkeeper Donis Escobar. Dempsey pounced on the rebound and headed it home.

He netted again in the 64th minute, heading Bradley’s left-sided free kick downward from four-yards out and inside the far post.

Seconds after entering the match, Carlos Discua pulled the Catrachos within a goal in the 69th minute. The Motagua midfielder cut around Fabian Johnson and into the box, putting a left-footed shot past Guzan from eight yards.

The U.S. nearly had a third goal in the 78th minute as Escobar made a difficult save off another Bradley free kick.

Eddie Hernandez came inches away from equalizing for Honduras, but couldn’t put in a cross. The ball deflected off his thigh and out of bounds in the 82nd minute.

Moments later, Hernandez – the 2014 Central American & Caribbean Games’ top scorer with six goals -- had another chance. He took a pass from Discua and turned into the box, missing with a low shot.

The teams resume Group A action at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, on Friday night as Honduras faces Panama and the U.S. meets Haiti.

NOTES: Clint Dempsey scored his first Gold Cup goal in a 4-1 triumph over Cuba on July 7, 2005 … Dempsey has now scored at least one goal in four different editions of the Gold Cup and has struck seven times in the competition.