Dempsey stars as USA fi­nally win

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SAN FRAN­CISCO: Clint Dempsey made a fairy­tale re­turn to in­ter­na­tional duty with a hat-trick as the United States reignited their 2018 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign with a 6-0 thrash­ing of Hon­duras on Fri­day.

Dempsey, play­ing his first in­ter­na­tional since re­cov­er­ing from a heart prob­lem that forced a six-month lay­off, scored goals in each half as the Amer­i­cans romped to a cru­cial vic­tory at San Jose’s Avaya Sta­dium.

The US had suf­fered back-to­back de­feats in their open­ing two games of CONCACAF’s fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing round in Novem­ber, losses that led to the sack­ing of Jur­gen Klins­mann and the reap­point­ment of vet­eran coach Bruce Arena.

Arena had warned his play­ers that noth­ing less than three points would do against the Hon­durans and the Amer­i­cans did not dis­ap­point, pro­duc­ing a dom­i­nant dis­play against the Cen­tral Amer­i­cans.

Though Dempsey grabbed the head­lines with his hat-trick, Borus­sia Dort­mund teenager Chris­tian Pulisic was the heart­beat of a scin­til­lat­ing US per­for­mance, scor­ing one goal and cre­at­ing three oth­ers dur­ing the rout.

Se­bas­tian Llet­get and cap­tain Michael Bradley scored the other Amer­i­can goals on a night when al­most ev­ery­thing went right for the hosts.

The win helped the US climb off the bot­tom of the group into fourth place in the six-team stand­ings with three points.

The US face a trip to Panama, beaten 1-0 by Trinidad and Tobago ear­lier on Fri­day, in their next game.

In Fri­day’s other match, Mex­ico moved to the top of the qual­i­fi­ca­tion stand­ings with a 2-0 de­feat of Costa Rica.

Javier Her­nan­dez and Nestor Araujo scored the goals for Mex­ico, who lead with seven points from three games.

The top three fin­ish­ers in the six-team “Hexag­o­nal” qual­i­fy­ing com­pe­ti­tion qual­ify au­to­mat­i­cally for next year’s fi­nals in Rus­sia.

The fourth placed team face a play­off against a side from Asia. AFP

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