Clint Dempsey hat trick leads U.S. past Honduras; Mexico beats Costa Rica
Clint Dempsey scored a hat trick in his return to the national team as the United States thrashed Honduras 6-0 in San Jose, California on Friday night in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier.
The U.S. got off to a dream start in the fifth minute when Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic into the area and the Borussia Dortmund midfielder's deflected shot bounced to a wide open Sebastian Lletget to sweep home at the back post for a 1-0 lead.
Honduras nearly leveled the score in the 16th minute, as Alberth Elis found the ball drop right to his feet in the center of the U.S. penalty area, but his close-range effort went right to goalkeeper Tim Howard.
The rest of the first half was all U.S., though, with Michael Bradley doubling the hosts' lead in the 27th minute, dribbling the ball in from the right side all the way across the top of the penalty area and firing a shot back across his body and into Donis Escober's net to make it 2-0.
Dempsey was next up for the U.S., settling a cheeky Pulisic chip over the top of the Honduras defense and fired home to give his team a three-goal cushion after 45 minutes.
Bruce Arena's team wasted no time adding to its goals total in the second half, with Pulisic finishing with aplomb after Altidore played him into the area with a first-time pass.
Minutes later, Dempsey had his second, with Pulisic the provider this time. The 18-year-old's perfectly weighted pass sprang Dempsey, who beat Escober and slotted home to make it 5-0.
And Dempsey piled on the visitors' woe, completing his hat trick from a free kick in the 54th minute to further put the game out of reach for Honduras.
The win moves the U.S. into fourth place in the qualifying table, just one point behind its next opponent Panama, who the Americans will travel to face in Panama City on March 28.
Mexico stormed to a 2-0 win against Costa Rica in Mexico City.
Javier Hernandez got the hosts off to a perfect start in the seventh minute, chipping Costa Rica's Keylor Navas from a pinpoint through ball from Carlos Vela to put Mexico ahead and draw level with Jared Borgetti as the national team's all-time leading scorer with 46 goals.
Navas was called into action in the 17th minute, when Carlos Vela smashed a shot from distance that was on goal, only for the Real Madrid goalkeeper to parry the ball over the crossbar.
Mexico doubled its lead just before half-time, with Vela again the provider. The Real Sociedad winger's corner found Nestor Araujo at the back post and he rose over his defender to head home.
The win sees Mexico leapfrog Costa Rica into first place in the qualifying standings on seven points ahead of its next CONCACAF match against Trinidad and Tobago on March 28.
Kevin Molino's goal was enough to earn Trinidad and Tobago a 1-0 win against Panama in Port of Spain.
The Minnesota United FC forward unleashed a powerful right-footed shot from outside the box from an Alvin Jones assist to beat Jaime Penedo.
It was the hosts' first win in the region's six-team qualifying phase for Russia 2018, after losing to both Costa Rica and Honduras last November.