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(Reuters) - Clint Dempsey's strength in the air helped him to two goals as the reigning champion United States opened their CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over Honduras on Tuesday.
Two days after the women's team celebrated a third World Cup win, Dempsey scored a header in each half and the U.S. held off a late rally at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, to keep the American party going.
“It wasn’t our best performance but we’re happy to get three points," the 32-year-old Dempsey, who lost the captaincy to Michael Bradley last week, told reporters.
“It was tough. They came out really aggressive and caused us some problems.”
Honduras created the better chances early but it was Dempsey who stole the momentum with his goal in the 25th minute, heading home from a rebound off Donis Escober after the goalkeeper blocked a Jozy Altidore shot.
The U.S. went ahead 2-0 in the 64th minute when Michael Bradley found Dempsey in the box.
Honduras responded six minutes later through Carlos Discua, who netted his first goal for Honduras with a shot that split U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan and sliding defender Brad Evans.
A chance for an equalizer went begging in the 82nd minute, however, when Ventura Alvarado missed an open goal.
The win gives the U.S. control of Group A after Haiti and Panama tied 1-1 earlier in the day.
The Gold Cup determines the regional champions for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Writing by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Ian Ransom