Quaranta Leads US in Return to DC

Former United player scores at RFK

WASHINGTON -- Santino Quaranta almost couldn't find the words to describe this homecoming.

Making his first appearance for the United States in more than three years, the D.C. United player broke a scoreless tie in the 75th minute before his home fans at RFK Stadium to help the Americans beat Honduras 2-0 on Wednesday night.

"To be able to do it here in RFK where it all started for me is -- special," Quaranta said. "I keep going back to that, but it really is."
Brian Ching followed Quaranta's goal with a header four minutes later to seal the win.

"It's hard to explain how special it is," Quaranta said. "I was trying to tell myself all day just to enjoy it, but it was difficult."

Quaranta has been through some difficult times recently. He publicly acknowledged he had battled drug and alcohol addictions the past few years before getting another chance with D.C. United last year -- the team with which he began his MLS career in 2001. Now, his road to recovery has led him back to the national squad.

"To listen to the anthem was very emotional for me," Quaranta said. "It's been a fun, long road back."

The Americans moved to the verge of advancing to the quarterfinals of the championship tournament of CONCACAF, which governs the sport in North and Central America and the Caribbean. They are 2-0 and lead Group B going into their final first-round match against Haiti on Saturday in Foxborough, Mass., where a draw will be enough to clinch the group.

Honduras (1-1) will face winless Grenada, also in Foxborough. Haiti (1-1) beat Grenada in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader 2-0.

The United States, two-time defending champions, are 23-0-1 in Gold Cup group play.

Quaranta took a short pass from Charlie Davies, who replaced Freddy Adu in the 64th minute, at the top of the penalty box and fired in his first goal for the national team.

"I looked to my left and saw Santino making a good run, so I was able to lay off a good ball for him," Davies said. "He was just like, 'Thanks.' I think it was gratifying for him to score in front of the home crowd."

The crowd of 26,079 had a pro-Honduras bent, but there were still enough American fans to loudly cheer Quaranta's goal.

Quaranta was one of several new players on the U.S. roster for the Gold Cup. The Americans have a nearly entirely different roster from the U.S. team that made a surprise run to the Confederations Cup championship game last month; most regulars were given a rest for the Gold Cup.

The Americans last played Honduras on June 6 in a World Cup qualifying match, but the only American who was dressed for that game and Wednesday's match was Benny Feilhaber, who came on in the 64th minute.

"There were times in the game we couldn't find the right rhythm," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "But I think there was still a good understanding of pushing the tempo. When we push the game for 90 minutes, we think that's an advantage for us."

Both squads had several opportunities before the United States broke through.

In the 15th minute, Quaranta had a header go wide left of the goalpost. Adu started the sequence with a nifty heel kick to Robbie Rogers, who took the ball deep into the left side of the penalty area before sending a cross to Quaranta in the middle. He dived and sent the header toward the post.

The Americans had another chance in the 22nd minute. Kyle Beckerman passed to Ching in the box. Ching chipped the ball over goalkeeper Donis Escobar, but he couldn't regain his footing as he chased down the ball and Honduras cleared off the goal line. Ching had another chance in the 51st minute when he took a cross right in front of the net and his shot went over the bar.

Honduras had a golden opportunity in the 30th minute. Walter Martinez had a breakaway with only goalkeeper Troy Perkins to beat, but his shot was just wide, hitting the right side of the goal netting.

The substitutions of Davies and Feilhaber in the 64th minute seemed to re-energize the American offense.

"For me, it's doing what I always do, which is cause a lot of havoc for the back line," Davies said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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