TAMPA, FL - JUNE 08: Forward Herculez Gomez #9 of Team USA celebrates his goal with Carlos Bocanegra #3 and Maurice Edu #7 against Team Antigua and Barbuda during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier Match at Raymond James Stadium on June 8, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

USA 3, Antigua & Barbuda 1: United States Opens Up World Cup Qualifying With Win

The United States soccer team kicked off its World Cup Qualifying campaign with a 3-1 win over Antigua & Barbuda on Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.

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USA Vs. Antigua & Barbuda Final Score: United States Wins World Cup Qualifying Opener, 3-1

Carlos Bocanegra got things going early for the United States soccer team with a goal in the eighth minute and then Clint Dempsey and Herclues Gomez each chipped in with a goal to help the team to a 3-1 win over tiny Antigua & Barbuda. The win gives the US three points in their first CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying group. This was the first of six games to determine who moves on to next years "hexagonal", the event that determines which teams will qualify for the 2014 World Cup from the CONCACAF region.

Bocanegra scored his goal early when he was able to track down a rebound after AB netminder Molvin James stopped a strong header from Hercules Gomez off a corner from Landon Donovan. Bocanegra ran to the far post and chipped in the loose ball for the 1-0 lead.

The score would remain 1-0 despite multiple scoring opportunities for the US, most notably from Clint Dempsey, who was able to find seams in the compacted defense of their small island opponents. Dempsey had two golden opportunities in the span of five minutes, but both times his shot was deflected away by Marc Joseph. Just when it looked like AB would go to the break only down a goal, Landon Donovan was dragged down from behind in the penalty area and was awarded a penalty kick. Dempsey stepped up to take the kick and buried it for his 26th international goal in the 43rd minute.

After halftime, the US came out and continued its assault on the AB defense, but as with the first half, the Americans had trouble finishing in the final third, a problem for this squad dating back to the dawn of time. As the half wore on, the US appeared to get fatigued, and allowed a cheap goal to Michael Byers, the teams all time leading scorer. Byers snuck behind the lead footed Oguchi Onyewu and chipped in the ball behind goalie Tim Howard. Onyewu was in the game for the injured Jose Torres who rolled an ankle while challenging for a loose ball.

The miscue seemed to light a fire under the Americans who went back on the attack and began forcing the issue again. Finally after multiple corners and strong runs into the final third, Hercules Gomez collected his own rebound after his shot was blocked and tucked it past James, who had come out of position on the initial shot. The goal provided the final margin of victory.

AB would generate some sustained possession in the closing minutes, but wasn't able to get a good solid chance on net. They finished with just one registered shot on goal.

Terrence Boyd came on in relief of Jermaine Jones late in the match to make his first sanctioned appearance for the senior national team. This was significant because it means that Boyd, who holds dual citizenship with both Germany and the US, is now locked into playing for the Americans.

The US will continue its qualifying run on Tuesday night when they travel to highly hostile territory for a match with Guatemala.

For more United States Men's National Team news and analysis, visit SB Nation Soccer.

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USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda: Bocanegra Goal Helps US to 2-0 Lead At Halftime

Carlos Bocanegra's goal in the eighth minute got the United States on the board in tonight's World Cup Qualifying match against Antigua & Barbuda and a late PK goal would give them a 2-0 lead at halftime.

Bocanegra alertly ran into the 18 yard box following a corner kick from Landon Donovan that was intended for Herclues Gomez. Gomez was able to head the ball on net and Bocanegra was in the right place to stuff home the rebound. Then, Clint Dempsey would add his 26th career international goal in the 43rd minute via a penalty kick after Landon Donovan was hauled down in the box on a breakaway. Dempsey buried the PK pretty much right down the middle.

The US dominated possession during the first 45 minutes, constantly generating good scoring opportunities by using a variety of one touch and combination passing, a style that new head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been trying to implement since taking over for Bob Bradley last year. Dempsey in particular had two terrific opportunities earlier in the half after making strong runs, but had his shot deflected both times.

Antigua & Barbuda, who is playing in a CONCACAF semi-final for the first time in its history, largely relied on packing its defense into its own end, content to try and defend and counter, but has had trouble containing the passing skill of the US and only once generated any type of offense, a shot from the top of the box by Dexter Blackstock, but it was redirected away from net by defender Clarence Goodson.

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USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda: Starting Lineups Announced

The United States soccer team will open its World Cup Qualifying campaign tonight when it welcomes in Antigua & Barbuda for the first ever meeting between the two CONCACAF nations.

The game will take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida and is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT. The game can be seen on ESPN (English) or Galavision (Spanish) and is also available online at ESPN3.com or WatchESPN.com.

The starting line-ups have been announced and are as follows (subject to change):

USA

G- Tim Howard
D- Steve Cherundolo
D- Clarence Goodson
D- Carlos Bocanegra
D- Jose Torres
M- Maurice Edu
M- Michael Bradley
M- Jermaine Jones
F- Landon Donovan
F- Clint Dempsey
F- Hercules Gomez

Antigua & Barbuda

G- Molvin James
D- MarvinMcCoy
D- Marc Joseph
D- George Dublin
M- Mikele Leigertwood
M- Keiran Murtagh
M- Quinton Griffith
M- Randolph Burton
M- Lawson Robinson
F- Akeem Thomas
F- Dexter Blackstock.

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USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda: US Defender Castillo Out, Johnson Doubtful

The line-ups have yet to be released for tonight’s World Cup Qualifier between the United States and Antigua & Barbuda, but we already know at least one player who won’t be in the starting 11.

Left back Edgar Castillo, who was a late addition to the starting line-up on Saturday against Canada and was expected to start again, will not play tonight after suffering a strained hamstring Thursday during practice. The injury isn’t considered serious, but he’ll sit out tonight.

In slightly more positive news, the man Castillo replaced on Saturday, Fabian Johnson, was not ruled out of tonight’s match by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Johnson suffered a strained calf muscle in warm-ups before the match with Canada. Klinsmann didn’t sound confident Johnson would be available, but didn’t rule it out either. If he misses tonight, he’ll almost certainly be ready for Tuesday’s road trip to Guatemala.

The match between the United States and Antigua & Barbuda is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT and can be seen on ESPN.

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USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda: TV Schedule, Time, Location And More

The United States soccer team kicks off its World Cup Qualifying campaign with a home tilt against upset minded Antigua & Barbuda. (7:00 p.m. EDT, ESPN).

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