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U.S opens World Cup qualifying with loss

The United States' World Cup hopes were dealt a blow with a 2-1 defeat to Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Wednesday in the opening match of the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for each team.

Nine games remain for Juergen Klinsmann's U.S. team as it bids for a spot in Brazil 2014 but with its next away game a tough trip to Mexico City, the loss puts pressure on the Americans.

In hot and humid conditions, the U.S. struggled to find any sort of tempo but grabbed the lead in the 35th minute thanks to some inspired individual play.

Midfielder Jermaine Jones lofted the ball gently over the home defense with a perfectly weighted pass to Clint Dempsey and the Tottenham striker finished superbly with a well-timed volley.

But the lead lasted just four minutes with Honduras midfielder Juan Carlos Garcia equalizing with a brilliant overhead kick from inside the penalty area.

Honduras dominated the second half with striker pair Jerry Bengtson and Carlo Costly causing plenty of problems for a shaky-looking new U.S. central defensive duo of Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez.

Costly had an effort ruled out for offside and then headed just wide while Oscar Boniek Garcia flashed a drive just wide of Tim Howard's right hand post.

It was no real surprise then when Honduras grabbed the winner with 12 minutes of normal time remaining. Bengtson, who plays in the U.S. for the New England Revolution, took advantage of some woeful defending and slotted the ball into an empty net.

Few would argue with the outcome as Honduras had a better shape and looked more comfortable on the ball while the U.S. struggled physically in the heat and lacked width in midfield and solidity at the back.

The U.S. returns to action against Costa Rica in Denver on March 22 and with a road trip to face Mexico in Mexico City four days later it will be desperate for a win.

Six teams are battling for three automatic qualification spots from CONCACAF for the finals in Brazil next year with the fourth-placed team playing off with the champion of the Oceania region.