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Thursday, February 7, 2013 - Page updated at 11:00 p.m.

Americans lose Cup qualifying opener

By Seattle Times news services

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Jerry Bengston took advantage of a defensive mix-up to score the go-ahead goal in the 79th minute, and Honduras rallied to beat the United States 2-1 Wednesday in the opener of the final qualifying round for next year's World Cup.

After Jamaica earned a rare 0-0 draw with Mexico at Azteca Stadium, it left Honduras on top of the final six-team CONCACAF group with three points, while Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Jamaica share second with one point apiece. The United States is last with no points. The top three teams earn automatic World Cup berths.

Clint Dempsey put the U.S. ahead in the 36th minute but the Americans, using a new-look defense that featured Omar Gonzalez and Timmy Chandler, gave up the lead when Juan Carlos Garcia tied the score with a bicycle kick in the 40th minute.

Bengston, who plays for Major League Soccer's New England Revolution, scored the winner when defender Geoff Cameron and goalkeeper Tim Howard both went for a pass by Maynor Figueroa to Oscar Boniek Garcia. That allowed Garcia to tap the ball across to Bengston for a shot into an open net, and Gonzalez was too late to challenge him.

"Overall, there were too many mistakes done and too many players today just didn't reach their usual potential," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.

Playing without Landon Donovan, a veteran of three World Cups who is unsure whether to continue his career, the U.S. was under pressure for much of the match. Honduras had the better chances, forcing Howard into several difficult saves. Gonzalez had a chance to redeem himself but missed heading in a corner kick in stoppage time.

The U.S. resumes World Cup qualifying March 22 against Costa Rica in Commerce City, Colo.

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