US men beat Honduras in World Cup qualifier

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SANDY, Utah – Jozy Altidore scored a goal in his fourth consecutive international match, enough for the United States to edge Honduras 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday night.

Before 20,250 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, the U.S. men remained atop the six-team CONCACAF group. The United States (4-1-1) won three straight matches this month, all since a 0-0 draw at Mexico gave it a boost toward the top.

The U.S. team has also shut out its last two opponents, Panama and Honduras.

Honduras (2-3-1) was the last team to win at the United States in a World Cup qualifying match, in 2001. The United States has won or tied 25 straight Cup qualifiers at home.

The top three teams in CONCACAF qualifying move directly to Brazil 2014, and the fourth-place team will face a playoff against New Zealand.

The visitors made it difficult on the United States for much of the match by slowing the pace before Altidore broke through.

After several second-half near-misses, the U.S. team got its goal in the 73rd minute. Altidore took a cross from Fabian Johnson from near the end line and put it past goalkeeper Noel Valladares across the goalmouth inside the right post.

It was Altidore’s ninth goal in a qualifier as he finally develops into the scoring threat the United States has been expecting for years.

“We always told him, from a coaching perspective, that it takes a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of adjustment, it takes the right moment to be there, it takes the hunger,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “The energy he has put in the last four or five games has been tremendous. It’s not only that he scored those goals, the work he does for the team is awesome.”

Both teams played physical soccer in the first half, leading to an emphasis on defense and a limited number of scoring chances on either side of the field. Just before halftime, though, Tim Howard was forced to make a difficult save when Andy Najar launched a running right-footer.

Eddie Johnson of Sounders FC had a chance in the 17th minute when he latched onto a cross from Fabian Johnson. His left-footed shot was knocked away by Valladares.

When the United States stepped up the offensive pressure early in the second half, it put Honduras on its heels. Altidore had the finishing touch.

“The team now understands it’s not only a physical grind you put into these games,” Klinsmann said. “It’s a mental one. Mentally, we’re getting stronger. We’re getting tougher.”

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