Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey scored in the
first half and the U.S. men's national team defeated Antigua and Barbuda, 3-1,
on Friday night to open CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Bocanegra scored in the eighth minute and Dempsey converted a penalty kick in
the 44th, as the Americans began the semifinal round of qualifying in Group A.
Peter Byers pulled Antigua and Barbuda within a goal after half, but Herculez
Gomez scored in the 72nd as the United States secured a win in the first match
between the countries.
The United States opened the scoring inside 10 minutes off a corner kick from
Landon Donovan. Gomez met the pass inside the penalty area and headed on goal,
but Antigua and Barbuda goalie Molvin James made the initial save.
Bocanegra was in the right place near the right post to pick up the rebound as
he slotted home from a few feet off the line for his 13th career goal.
Donovan won the penalty just before halftime as he ran onto a return pass from
Dempsey and was fouled just inside the left side of the area. Dempsey sent the
penalty down the middle for his 26th career goal.
The United States lost Jose Torres to injury early in the second half, forcing
coach Jurgen Klinsmann to switch Bocanegra to left back and call Oguchi Onyewu
off the bench.
Bocanegra nearly set up a third American goal just after the change as he made
a nice move on the left to set up Gomez, who turned a shot off the crossbar.
The United States was comfortable for the first hour of the match, but Antigua
and Barbuda changed the game in the 65th minute when Byers pulled a goal back.
Byers, the country's all-time leading scorer, finished a breakaway with a shot
to the near post to beat United States goalie Tim Howard.
The Americans responded well to the goal, and Gomez finished an opportunity in
the area with a shot to the left side of the goal in the 72nd minute.
Klinsmann used Terrence Boyd off the bench in the closing minutes, meaning the
forward is now only eligible to play for to the Americans on the international
level. Boyd also has German citizenship.
The United States continues qualifying Tuesday at Guatemala at 10 p.m. (ET).
The Sports Network