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US Defeats Honduras in World Cup Qualifier

The U.S. Men's National Soccer team defeated Honduras 2-1 in a final round World Cup qualifying match for the North, Central America, and Caribbean (CONCACAF) region. The win gives the U.S. team a boost in their efforts to reach the World Cup for a sixth consecutive time.

When Honduras scored in only the fifth minute of play, U.S. Men's Soccer captain Carlos Bocanegra admits it started to look similar to the recent loss to Costa Rica, which also scored early in that game.

But Bocanegra adds, this time the team rallied for the win.

"I though it was a good response from the team, we did not just fall back into our shell and just let it all go out the window," said Carlos Bocanegra. "In that aspect I thought the team did well to respond and show fight."

After Landon Donovan scored the equalizer, Bocanegra would go on to score the goal that gave the U.S. Men's team a much-needed win to remain competitive in regional qualifying action.

The top-three teams in the six-nation group advance to next year's World Cup finals in South Africa.

More than 55,000 people turned out for the first World Cup Qualifying match held at Soldier Field, home of the 1994 World Cup opening game.

But even though it was the home field for the United States, fan support in the stadium clearly favored Honduras, with nearly three quarters of the stadium cheering on the visiting team.

Despite that disadvantage, the United States won and maintained a 53-game winning streak at home against regional opponents that started in 2001, when they lost to Honduras.

The Men's team is halfway through the 10-match qualifying round and in second place with 10 points, two behind Costa Rica. But U.S. Coach Bob Bradley is looking ahead.

"World Cup qualifying is not just about one game," said Bob Bradley. "It is about the 10 games, and understanding that there is going to be tough moments along the way. It is not normal to have just a smooth, easy ride through a World Cup qualifying. Your ability to deal with some of that, to grow as a team, is very important."

One tough moment Bradley was asked to elaborate on was the loss to Costa Rica earlier in the week. One reporter questioned whether the artificial turf at San Jose's Ricardo Saprissa Stadium was a major factor in that loss.

"We never make excuses, so when we play poorly, like in Costa Rica, we look at ourselves," he said. "The field is terrible, and FIFA should not allow artificial surfaces. They should have some courage, and they should stop it. It is no good for the players, and somehow I hope the players have the ability around the world to stand up and say we are not playing on this, plain and simple."

The U.S. Men's team now heads to South Africa for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, where they take on Italy, Brazil, and Egypt.

The next regional opponent for the United States in World Cup qualifying action is Mexico in August.