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 qualifying game Tuesday night.
Before 20,250 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Americans remained atop the six-team CONCACAF group. The United States (4-1-1) won three consecutive games this month, all since a 0-0 draw at Mexico gave it a boost toward the top.
It 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, back in 2001. The Americans have won or drawn 25 in a row at home since then.
The visitors made it difficult on the Americans for much of the game by slowing the pace before Altidore broke through.
After several second-half near misses, the U.S. 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 hoped for.
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 the first period ended, though, Tim Howard was forced to make a difficult save when Andy Najar launched a running right footer from the right side of the box. Howard met the ball in the center of the box and deflected it outside the right post.
Eddie Johnson had a chance in the 17th minute when he latched onto a cross from Fabian Johnson. His left-footed shot from the center of the box was knocked away by Valladares.
When the U.S. stepped up the offensive pressure early in the second half, it put Honduras on its heels. Altidore had the finishing touch.
He even appeared to score earlier in the half. Moments after Graham Zusi sent a free kick into a crowd of players just outside the 6-yard box in the 56th minute – only to see Brad Evans’ header go right into Valladares’ gloves – Altidore got behind the defense. Clint Dempsey sent a through ball ahead to Altidore, who was ruled offside, and his score was negated.
Valladares came up with another clutch save in the 69th minute. Zusi, who was particularly active all night after sitting out the win over Panama because of yellow card accumulation, sent a ball into Dempsey in the center of the box and he leaned into a point-blank header. The ball bounced off of Valladares’ hands and Michael Bradley sent a follow-up shot too high.