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.
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