MIAMI – A craftsman’s goal from Clint Dempsey and stellar goalkeeping from Tim Howard gave Jurgen Klinsmann his first win as US coach Saturday night with a 1-0 friendly victory over Honduras before 21,170 fans at Sun Life Stadium.
After starting his tenure with two losses and a tie, Klinsmann finally got a winning result to go along with the refreshing optimism he has brought to the US program. Dempsey scored in the 36th minute, calmly curling a left-footed shot into the upper 90 after a corralling a Brek Shea cross. Howard made the goal stand with two world-class saves, one to keep it scoreless early and another in the second half that preserved the result.
Dempsey appeared to have a second goal with six minutes to play, but was ruled to have fouled on leaping header.
It was the Americans' first game in Miami since 2004, and it was played a steady drizzle and gusting winds. The inclement conditions may have kept some fans away, but those who did come saw plenty of scoring chances. They also got almost an equal number of misses.
Klinsmann’s starting lineup featured newly minted American Danny Williams and two other Bundesliga regulars, outside defenders Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler. Two MLS-based players made the first group, FC Dallas' Shea and RSL’s Kyle Beckerman.
Williams got free for this first scoring chance in the US shirt in 30th minute, driving a left-footed shot over the bar, but it was Chandler and Shea who pushed play for the Americans in an eventful first half.
Chandler moved forward from his left back position, feeding Shea for a glancing header that skipped wide and a left-footed shot that sailed over the bar. Maurice Edu nodded down a Chandler cross that forced a reflex save from Honduras keeper Donis Escobar.
The US took their first lead under Klinsmann on Dempsey’s well-taken goal. Shea started the play on the right flank with a low, seeing-eye cross that Dempsey deftly controlled in the center of the box. Dempsey shifted the ball to his left foot for the finish, his 23rd international goal.
Howard was called on early in the half, pushing aside a one-on-one challenge from Jerry Bengtson in the 19th minute.
The Yanks kept the pressure to start the second 45, but Shea wasted a chance for a second when he muffed a cross from Jozy Altidore inside the six-yard box. Honduras returned the wasted opportunity two minutes later when Óscar Boniek García missed the target after getting behind the US backline.
The US missed another open net in the 65th minute, with second-half sub Oguchi Onyewu the culprit on the rebound of a Dempsey shot that forced a leaping save from Escobar.
Howard out-did Escobar in the 72nd, leaving his feet to nip a long-range blast from Mario Martínez that looked destined for the top corner.
Dempsey appeared to score his second of the night when he rose to snap a header off a Jonathan Spector cross, but the goal was waved off when Dempsey was whislted for a foul on the Honduran defender.
The US return to action in another international friendly against Ecuador on Oct. 11 at Red Bull Arena.
USA – Clint Dempsey (Michael Orozco Fiscal) 36
USA -- Kyle Beckerman (caution, foul) 32
HON -- Óscar Boniek García (caution, foul) 41
USA -- Jozy Altidore (caution, dissent) 42
USA – Carlos Bocanegra (caution, foul) 46
USA – Maurice Edu (caution, foul) 58
USA – Brek Shea (caution, foul) 63
HON – Marvin Chávez (caution, foul) 78
HON -- Alfredo Mejía (caution, foul) 82
United States: Tim Howard; Steve Cherundolo, Michael Orozco Fiscal (Oguchi Onyewu, 46), Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), Tim Chandler (Jonathan Spector, 76); Kyle Beckerman; Danny Williams (DaMarcus Beasley, 65), Maurice Edu (Michael Bradley, 65), Brek Shea; Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore (1Juan Agudelo, 83)
Substitues not used: Bill Hamid, Jeff Larentowicz
Honduras: Donis Escobar; Mauricio Sabillón, Osman Chávez, Johnny Leverón, Maynor Figueroa (capt.); Óscar Boniek García (Marvin Chávez, 77), Alfredo Mejía, Roger Espinoza (Jorge Claros, 74), Julio César de León (Mario Martínez, 69); Jerry Bengtson (Roger Rojas, 65), Carlo Costly
Substitutes not used: Donaldo Morales, Erick Norales, Bryan Beckeles
Referee: Courtney Campbell
Assistant Referees: Kedlee Powell, Keble Williams
4th Official: Jair Marrufo
Weather: 73 degrees, heavy rain