SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – The U.S. soccer team is headed to South Africa for a chance to redeem itself in the World Cup.
Conor Casey scored his first two international goals in the second half, Landon Donovan added another, and the United States clinched its sixth straight World Cup berth with a game to spare by rallying past Honduras, 3-2, Saturday night.
In one of the most thrilling end-to-end matches the U.S. side has played in many years, the Americans took a 3-1 lead before Honduras closed on Julio Cesar De Leon’s second goal of the game.
Carlos Pavon had a chance to tie after a hand ball in the penalty area by Jonathan Spector. But Pavon put his penalty kick over the crossbar in the 87th minute, then fired high on an open header from in front in the 89th.
Coming off a first-round elimination at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the United States (6-2-1) is first in North and Central America and the Caribbean with 19 points and assured of one of three automatic berths that to go to the top finishers in the region.
“We’re very proud,” U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. “We understand the responsibility we have every time we step on the field for our fans, for our country.”
Mexico and defending champion Italy also qualified for next year’s World Cup on Saturday along with Germany, Denmark, Serbia, Chile and the Ivory Coast.
De Leon put Honduras ahead in the 47th minute, but Casey countered with his first goal in 15 international appearances. He then gave the U.S. the lead a minute later when he split two defenders, took a pass from Donovan and scored from 16 yards.