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Global Jul 30, 2012

MLS trio inspires Honduras’ shock upset of Spain

By Charles Boehm

Honduras pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Olympic men’s soccer history on Sunday, defeating tournament favorites Spain 1-0 at St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England, on a goal that had Major League Soccer’s fingerprints all over it.

The Hondurans seized a shock early lead when D.C. United youth academy product Andy Najar and Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza exchanged passes deep in Spain’s half in the seventh minute, allowing Espinoza to curl a cross into the path of striker Jerry Bengtson.

Bengtson, who joined the New England Revolution as a “Designated Player” earlier this year, alertly attacked the delivery to the near post, thumping a downward header past star Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea for a 1-0 lead.

Los Catrachos somehow maintained their advantage until the final whistle despite sustained pressure by Spain, who hit the woodwork several times and had a strong appeal for a late penalty kick waved away by referee Juan Soto.

Seven Spanish players and six Hondurans received yellow cards in the match, which was full of time-killing and theatrics as the underdog Central Americans clung to their lead and Spain labored to find a breakthrough. A throng of Spanish players surrounded Soto to complain and harass the Venezuelan official after his penalty no-call, prompting the possibility of further discipline.

Combined with a 1-0 loss to Japan in their tournament opener, the setback means that Spain are eliminated from contention for a place in the knockout rounds, while Honduras need only a win or tie against Japan to advance.

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