Altidore scores twice as US routs St Vincent 6-1
ST. LOUIS (AP) Entering on its first three-game home losing streak since 1997, the United States stumbled at the start of its first qualifier for the 2018 World Cup when St. Vincent and the Grenadines went ahead in the fifth minute.
''You thought it was going to be `Here we go again,''' Jozy Altidore admitted.
Altidore and an evolving U.S. lineup made sure that did not happen.
Altidore scored twice and the Americans rolled to a 6-1 victory Friday night over 129th-ranked St. Vincent.
Bobby Wood tied the score in the 11th, Fabian Johnson put the 33rd-ranked Americans ahead in the 29th and Altidore scored two minutes later. Geoff Cameron and Gyasi Zardes boosted the lead to 5-1 early in the second half, and Altidore added his second goal in the 74th.
''We responded really well and we neutralized them,'' Altidore said after increasing his total to 31 international goals and moving ahead of Brian McBride into fourth place in the U.S. career scoring list.
Oalex Anderson, a member of the third-division Seattle Sounders 2 who turned 20 on Wednesday, took advantage of defensive confusion by Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin to put the visitors in front. Not exactly that start needed following a month of criticism of U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
''We knew that team, actually that player, was a good player,'' Zardes said. ''You know you have to get right back in the game. It's very crucial.''
The Americans are unbeaten in 10 straight World Cup qualifying openers (5-0-5) and unbeaten in 28 home qualifiers (26-0-2) since 2001.
''We didn't look past them,'' said defender Tim Ream, a St. Louis native who started at left back. ''But it was good to see our reaction, and really pour it on.''
Ream, Wood, Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin started their first qualifiers.
Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe and New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga made their national team debuts in the 64th. Nagbe, 25, was born in Liberia and became a U.S. citizen in September. Miazga, 20, also was eligible to play for Poland before Friday.
''I always knew I was going hopefully one day play for the U.S.,'' Miazga said. ''It was a great moment. A little bit of nerves, but that's normal.''
There was a moment of silence for the victims of attacks in Paris earlier Friday. The game drew a near-sellout crowd of 43,433 with temperatures in the 50s for the national team's first game in St. Louis since 1997.
The road to Russia 2018 will be long - of the 11 starters in the opening qualifier of the last cycle, only Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey were on the roster in Brazil last year. The top two teams in this semifinal group, which also includes Guatemala, advance to the six-nation regional final round.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan needed to make only one save. Klinsmann said Howard is likely to start Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago, which figures to provide a tougher test.
After St. Vincent went ahead on a move that began with a long ball over the American defense, three of the first four U.S. goals came from restarts. Wood scored his fourth goal this year, his first as a starter, on a 6-yard header following a cross from Yedlin, and Johnson gained the lead with a goal from a free kick. Altidore's first goal came on another set play, with Jones at the near post battling to head Fabian Johnson's corner kick, which went off a defender to the far post. Altidore ran into the net to lose his markers, popped out and had an open header.
Wood set up Cameron's third international goal on a looping header in the 51st minute following a corner kick, Zardes ran in alone to beat goalkeeper Kenyan Desmond in the 58th minute off Altidore's pass, and Altidore scored the final goal with a left-footed shot following Jones' pass.
Jones came off in the 84th after grabbing the back of his left leg, then re-entered and finished the match.
''Hopefully not pulled,'' Klinsmann said. ''We're positive that he's going to be available on Tuesday.''
NOTES: Trinidad won 2-1 at Guatemala, getting goals from Khaleem Hyland in the 67th and Kenwyn Jones in the 80th. Carlos Mejia scored for the hosts in the 90th. ... In Group A, Mexico won 3-0 at home against El Salvador on goals by Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera and Carlos Vela, and Canada beat visiting Honduras 1-0 on a 38th-minute goal by Orlando City's Cyle Larin, the MLS Rookie of the Year. ... In Group B, Panama won 2-0 at Jamaica as Armando Cooper and Alberto Quintero scored, and Costa Rica defeated visiting Haiti 1-0 on Cristian Gamboa's 29th-minute goal.