Bradley: US must hit Honduras hard from start

MIAMI - United States coach Bob Bradley has urged his team to be on the ball from the outset against Honduras in their penultimate World Cup qualifier on Saturday, after a string of shaky starts during their campaign for the 2010 finals.

The Americans lead the CONCACAF regional standings and a win over Honduras in San Pedro Sula will book their place in South Africa with a game to spare.

"We've had different games when we've given up early goals, but we've looked at those and we've addressed what happens early in a match," Bradley told a teleconference on Wednesday.

"There are areas like that that we have addressed, I think we've been able at times to use the right amount of positive energy to get off to better starts, but we all know that the game doesn't always go as planned."

The United States were 2-0 down away to El Salvador before coming back for a 2-2 draw and conceded two goals inside the opening 13 minutes in their 3-1 loss in Costa Rica.

They also went 1-0 down after four minutes at home to Honduras before winning 2-1, and trailed at home to El Salvador before scrambling a win.

Bradley said the flip-side of his team's sluggish starts was their fight-backs.

"There's also the need to respond, and I think we've been able to do that," he added.

"Hopefully the range of experiences that we've had will help us deal with whatever comes our way and we will certainly start this match with the idea that we want to be the aggressor."

Given Honduras are unbeaten at home and have a great chance of qualification themselves, a point would not be a bad result for Bradley's side whose final game is against Costa Rica on Oct. 14 in Washington.

The coach will also be without attacking midfielder Clint Dempsey who has a shoulder injury. Either Stuart Holden or Benny Feilhaber would deputise, Bradley indicated.

"Yes, it's away from home but it's a game where we want to take the initiative," Bradley added.

"With their crowd behind them, we'd also be naive to think that they're not going to be flying and going with everything at the start."