WASHINGTON – Nearly 40,000 Hondurans call the D.C. metropolitan area home. On Thursday evening, it seemed as if nearly all of them came out to support their World Cup-bound Catrachos as they took on Turkey at RFK Stadium.
It was the much smaller contingent of Turkish fans, however, who went home happy.
A 70th-minute strike from second-half substitute Melvut Erding was enough for the Turks, who earned a hard-fought 2-0 victory in front of a raucous crowd.
Fielding a lineup that featured four current or former Major League Soccer players – with another three on the bench – Honduras seemed to feed off of the crowd’s energy but failed to find the final ball during a back-and-forth first half. Hull City defender Maynor Figueroa, former Sporting KC standout Roger Espinoza and current New England Revolution striker Jerry Bengtson all had chances during the game's opening stanza but failed to convert.
Turkey played with hesitancy and managed only a handful of opportunities throughout the opening 45, seemingly content to fall back and weather the storm. A pair of chances from midfielder Olcan Adin and defender Osman Gamdal forced Honduran 'keeper Noel Valladares into action late in the half, though he dealt with both efforts easily.
Perhaps fatigued by a breakneck opening 45 minutes, Honduras faded in the second half. The Turks nearly took control of the game in the 56th minute when Erding found himself alone in the box some seven yards out, but his off-balance attempt was struck directly at Valladares.
In the 70th minute, Turkey got their winner. Ishak Dogan collected the ball on the left flank, using a bit of guile to round his defender before crossing the ball to Erding, who made no mistake from 13 yards out.
They doubled their lead in the 82nd, as Erding played a perfectly weighted pass to defender Caner Erkin, who slotted it home easily.
Turkey will next travel up I-95 to Red Bull Arena to face the US national team on Sunday afternoon (2 pm ET, ESPN2). Honduras will re-group before continuing their World Cup preparations when they face Israel in Houston that same day (9 pm ET, beIN Sports, UDN).