Second-half goals from Santino Quaranta and Brian Ching lifted USA to a 2-0 win over Honduras in their CONCACAF Gold Cup match at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. Bob Bradley's squad for this competition is all but unrecognisable from the one that upset Spain en route to the FIFA Confederations Cup final last month and the inexperience showed as they struggled to influence the run of play. It took until the 73rd minute for the breakthrough to come, with Charlie Davies setting up Santino Quaranta to score.
"There was a great ball played into me and I was able to take a good touch and take a look to my left and I saw Santino making a good run, so I was able to lay off a good ball for him," said Davies. "It was gratifying, I think, for him to score in front of his home crowd and I think he put in a good effort today, so I'm really happy for him."
Brian Ching made sure of a second win in as many games for the Stars and Stripes, as he headed home from Steve Cherundolo's cross in the 79th minute. In spite of the personnel changes within the US squad, Davies made clear that the mission remained the same.
"We want to continue the success that we had in the [FIFA] Confederations Cup, even though we have a lot of new players," said Davies. "We still have the same goal and want to win this tournament, that's why we're here. I think tonight was a good step forward for us. We're continuing to get better, we're gelling as a team and hopefully we can continue to win games and win the Gold Cup."
USA coach Bob Bradley, who described his side's performance as a "solid team effort", praised substitutes Davies and Benny Feilhaber for the impact they made after entering the fray. He said: "I think that when both Charlie and Benny came on the field they brought good energy. Benny has done well in a number of situations as a sub where he comes on he starts connecting plays, gets us going a little bit, gets our tempo moving a little bit faster. And Charlie with his physical qualities has real good ability to step on the field at a time when things are slowing down and make a difference so on both sides I think it was positive."
Goalscorer Quaranta, who enjoyed a near-perfect return to the international fold in his home stadium after a three-year absence, agreed that these second half substitutions proved crucial to the American success. "Charlie did very well on the goal," said the 24-year-old, a Gold Cup winner in 2005. "I think he came in and changed the game for us as well as Benny Feilhaber; he held the ball up and it was just a great layoff and I just tried to keep it on target. But a million things went through my head when I scored. I was just so proud to have done it here. Anywhere you score for your country it's special, but to be able to do it here at RFK where it all started for me - it's special."
Davies plays his club football with Hammarby in Sweden's top flight and has netted a respectable 21 goals in two seasons. He credits the move as the "best decision of my life", as the club has provided him with the right combination of support, guidance and playing time to aid his development. That said, he keeps one eye fixed firmly on the future.
"I definitely do think it's time for me to change my scenery. Hopefully, I can go to a club where I am going to get the same chance as I did at Hammarby and also step up the competition," he said. "I think that's what I need - better competition day in and day out for me to develop and be a big time player coming into the [FIFA] World Cup."
Top two square off
Earlier, Fabrice Noel and James Marcelin were both on target as Haiti moved into second place behind the US in Group B with a 2-0 win over Grenada. Haiti will meet the US in their final group game on Saturday.