The USA's Clint Dempsey (pictured) celebrates after scoring against Honduras on July 7, 2015, in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: Mexsport)
FRISCO, Texas – It was a special homecoming for Clint Dempsey, who struck for a brace to lift the United States to a 2-1 win over Honduras on Tuesday night at Toyota Stadium.
“It always feels good, whether you play for the national team or whether you play club ball, to be able to come here, where I developed a lot of my game driving back and forth from Nacogdoches,” Dempsey said.
The 32-year-old was the U.S. captain, but head coach Jürgen Klinsmann opted to give Michael Bradley the armband after Dempsey was suspended for an incident with a referee while playing with the Seattle Sounders.
The response from Dempsey was exactly what Klinsmann wanted to see.
“We made the decision and he was absolutely on board with it,” said Klinsmann. “I was a striker myself and you go through those moments where you made a mistake and did something wrong and all you want to do is move on. As a striker, what do you want to the most is scoring. You live for that as a striker.”
It was also a special night for Club America defender Ventura Alvarado, who officially became cap-tied to the United States, when he was included in Klinsmann’s starting XI.
“It’s great having my first cap, my official first minutes,” Alvarado expressed. “I think I had a great time out there playing with the rest of my teammates. I’m looking forward to having more minutes.”
Jorge Luis Pinto wasn’t going to be happy, not after a loss, but the Honduras head coach liked what he saw from his side in a 2-1 defeat to the United States in both team’s Group A opener.
“You can’t be completely happy when you lose a game, but I feel calm, I feel satisfied, I feel like we played a good match,” Pinto said. “In football, sometimes it’s the small details that determine the matches. That’s what happened to us. The small details cost us.”
In particular, Pinto’s side was twice victimized on set pieces. However the Catrachos were resolute in their defending and showed improvement in the attacking third. They were rewarded for their efforts, when Motagua midfielder Carlos Discua pulled his team to within a goal in the 69th minute.
“I have a lot of respect for the USA,” remarked Pinto. “At the same time, we pressured them, we did well, we took the ball away at times and moved forward, but precision is what makes the difference in football and in the end goals are what counts and we weren’t able to get that done tonight.”
No reward for Panama
Panama head coach Hernan Dario Gomez was visibly frustrated following a 1-1 draw with Haiti in the opening match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday.
The Canaleros dominated possession and were more dangerous going forward. Teir inability to find a second goal proved costly, though, when Haiti leveled four minutes from full time.
“I’m really, really upset about this,” Gomez said after the match. “It’s a game Panama was winning. Panama had chances to go ahead. We had plenty of options to finish and put some space between us and them. Haiti is a complicated team. They kick a lot. They’re really a tough team. We commit some errors and, in the end, we let get away a result we had.”
Still, Gomez recognized the positives in Panama’s play.
“We had clarity. We created chances. It wasn’t really a lack of rhythm on the part of Panama,” Gomez added. “As much as we had chances, we were capable of getting three points, but Haiti cut things off. They made things difficult. They slowed things down. Despite the options, this is the result that we get.”
Quote of the day
Haiti head coach Marc Collat on his team’s “upset” draw
“In Haiti, we have players who play all over the world, in first division in Europe as well as the MLS. Now it’s very hard for a big team to beat a so-called little team because football is international now. Players are playing everywhere.”