Dempsey stars as USA finally win
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