Soccer

Dempsey scores twice, US beats Honduras 2-1 to open Gold Cup

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Dempsey scores twice, US beats Honduras 2-1 to open Gold Cup

FRISCO, Texas (AP) -- Clint Dempsey didn't view a wild sellout crowd as a pro-Texas bunch celebrating two goals by what amounts to a hometown kid.

The East Texas native thinks American soccer supporters are a lot more fervent than that now.

Dempsey scored twice on headers not far from where he trained as a youth, and the United States opened defense of its CONCACAF Gold Cup title with a 2-1 victory over Honduras on Tuesday night.

"I think the crowd was behind the whole team," said the 32-year-old, who is up to 43 international goals, 14 behind Landon Donovan's American record. "I remember when I first started with the national team and they'd be more fans for the other team sometimes. So to be able nowadays to play in front of pro-American crowds, I think the team definitely feeds off that energy."

Dempsey's goals in the 25th and 64th minutes were created from crosses from Michael Bradley, wearing the captain's arm band in his 100th international appearance. The goals boosted the Americans to 13-0 in Gold Cup openers.

Carlos Discua scored his first international goal in the 69th minute for Honduras, a semifinalist in the last three Gold Cups, and the Catrachos came close to tying the score.

"It wasn't our best performance, but we're happy to get three points from our first game," Dempsey said.

It was the first competitive match for the U.S. since losing to Belgium in overtime in the second round of last year's World Cup. The Americans, 29-1-2 in Gold Cup group play, meet Haiti on Friday and Panama on Monday. Haiti tied Panama 1-1 in the doubleheader opener.

U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan had a couple of tough saves in the first few minutes on a muggy night before 22,357 at the home of Major League Soccer's FC Dallas.

"They came out and put us under a bit of pressure and we had to find a way to weather that storm, which we did," Guzan said. "I don't think we were at our best. I think we turned the ball over quite easily too many times and maybe put ourselves under some undo pressure."

The first U.S. goal developed when DeAndre Yedlin played a short corner kick to Bradley, who crossed on a bounce to the far post. Henry Figueroa's clearance attempt back to Bradley's side was picked up at the side of the 6-yard box by Jozy Altidore, who took a touch and shot. Goalkeeper Donis Escobar kicked the ball out with his right foot and it popped up to Dempsey, who nodded it in from 6 yards.

Bradley's free kick from the flank led to the second goal. Escobar stayed on his line and an unmarked Dempsey jumped 4 yards out and headed inside the far post.

After a sluggish start, the U.S. controlled the pace in the second half until Discua took a nifty pass from Wilmer Crisanto and touched the ball past a standing Ventura Alvarado before beating Guzan over the keeper's left shoulder. Alvarado, who also had been eligible to play for Mexico, played his first competitive match for the U.S. and became tied to the American national team.

Honduras had a couple of good opportunities in the final 20 minutes, including when Guzan knocked a ball toward Eddie Hernandez, who had an open net but couldn't control the ball before it went out.

"I feel like we played a good match," said Honduras coach Jorge Luis Pinto, who led Costa Rica to the quarterfinals at the World Cup in Brazil. "But in football, sometimes the small details are what determine the matches. That's what happened to us."

Bradley, a son of former U.S. coach Bob Bradley, became the 16th American male to make 100 international appearances. At 27 years, 341 days, he is the fourth-youngest American after Donovan (26-96), Cobi Jones (27-239) and Marcelo Balboa (27-320).

"Great atmosphere and a very special moment for Michael Bradley," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.

Bradley replaced Dempsey, who lost the captaincy going into the Gold Cup after getting suspended by MLS and the U.S. Soccer Federation for a confrontation with a referee in a U.S. Open Cup match for Seattle. Those questions persist for Klinsmann, who considers them more irrelevant each day.

"As a striker, what do you want to do the most is scoring," said Klinsmann, tied for fourth on Germany's career scoring list. "That's what feeds a striker, feeling-wise, is goals."

If the U.S. wins the Gold Cup, it would qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. If another nation wins, it would meet the Americans in a playoff for the Confederations Cup berth.

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

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USA Today Sports Images

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

The Washington Spirit, one of nine teams in the National Women's Soccer League, will pay a visit to Audi Field later this summer.

The game versus the Portland Thorns FC is scheduled for August 25 at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster and start at $31, but will also be available at the door. 

If you're looking for where to watch the Spirit take on the Thorns from the comfort of your own couch, the game will be broadcast on ESPNews starting at 7:38 pm. Dalen Cuff is set to host the pregame show, with USA Women's National Team alumnus Aly Wagner commentating alongside Jenn Hildreth, in her second season of NWSL coverage.

Considering the recent addition of the legendary Wayne Rooney and their move to the new facility, DC United has a lot to celebrate.

Audi Field, which opened in Washington D.C.'s Buzzard Point on July 9, seats 20,000 spectators. For DC United, who previously played at RFK Stadium, the capacity is a step down from the almost 46,000 seats at RFK. But for the Spirit, who call Germantown's Maryland Soccerplex their home, the audience will hopefully far outnumber the Plex's usual 3,000 to 4,000 spectators.

The Spirit have struggled this season, with an unusually high amound of draws and more losses than wins. Though fan favorite and star forward Mallory Pugh is still sidelined with a PCL sprain, the team hopes to improve their ability to close one-goal deficits and gain a sustained offensive advantage. 

Aside from the Audi Field game, the Spirit will host two more home games this season. Utah Royals FC will visit the Soccerplex on Wednesday, August 22, and Sky Blue FC will close out the Spirit's home season on Saturday, September 1. Tickets for either game at their usual field can be purchased through the Washington Spirit's website or upon entry. 

If you haven't paid attention to women's soccer since the USWNT's 2015 World Cup victory, no worries. There's no better time than the present to support women's pro sports. Regardless of the end result, Portland vs. Washington will be a great match-up to watch, and the event has already made DC sports history.

MORE DC SPORTS NEWS:

Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Wayne Rooney stuns D.C. soccer fans with surprise appearance during World Cup viewing

Washington Dulles International Airport was flooded by soccer fans alike Thursday afternoon awaiting the arrival of one specific person inside the international arrivals terminal: England's all-time goalscorer Wayne Rooney. 

Over 100 fans packed the halls as the 32-year-old made his way out of the airport while posing for pictures and signing autographs. 

Rooney penned a two-and-a-half year guaranteed contract worth about $13 million, which makes him the highest-paid player in D.C. United history. 

He officially becomes available to play for the club beginning July 10, after the transfer window opens. This means his first game could potentially be against Vancouver inside the brand new Audi Field July 10. 

After greeting fans at the airport, Rooney and his camp piled into two blacks SUVs en route to Northeast D.C. 

Little did World Cup fans taking in the England-Belgium match at Wunder Garten know that they were about to be surprised by Wayne Rooney himself. 

In an appearance that lasted just over seven minutes and included a slew of selfies, short conversations and one television interview, Rooney's presence dazzled fans and left others stunned. 

One England native who is now a D.C. resident told me: "We grew up watching him (Rooney) score in the World Cup and that was really important to us. It's hard to believe he just walked through here."

As you would imagine, management at Wunder Garten was thrilled, too.  

"It was great for us because it put us on the map. For someone as famous as Wayne Rooney to come through our establishment, shake hands and hang out, that means a lot. We loved having him here and would love to have him back," said Michael Keller, a member of the bar's management staff. 

 The Englishman will have his hands full as he attempts to put D.C. United back on the map this season. 

Follow Rooney on Twitter and Instagram @WayneRooney.