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Originally published Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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U.S. overpowers Grenada 4-0 in Gold Cup soccer opener

The U.S. crushed Grenada 4-0 in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match at Qwest Field, with Robbie Rogers scoring a goal and adding two assists.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The rockets' red glare came before dark Saturday night, in the form of four goals by the U.S. men's national team in its 4-0 defeat of Grenada at Qwest Field.

So began the Americans' defense of the Gold Cup, the team championship tournament of North America, Central America and the Caribbean — on Independence Day no less.

The U.S. team that took the field for its Gold Cup opener hardly resembled the group that made a run to the Confederations Cup final last week in South Africa. But it made quick work of the Spice Boyz from the Caribbean, and did so with the help of a holdover from that Confederations Cup team, forward Freddy Adu.

The 20-year-old, once regarded as the future of U.S. soccer but now a seldom-used player on the national team, scored the opening goal in the seventh minute. The Yanks outshot Grenada 25-3.

Adu was wide open to take midfielder Robbie Rogers' cross after Rogers had dribbled through a pair of defenders. Adu finished and celebrated his second career goal as a member of the senior national team.

"Freddy is always fighting the challenge of the unbelievable expectations that have been thrown his way and continue to get thrown his way," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "So to have a chance to step on the field, start with some of the guys that he also knows well ... get a goal early, those are all good things."

The U.S. was far from finished. In the 31st minute, Rogers, who plays for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, sent a high cross in front of the goal, where midfielder Stuart Holden was waiting. He headed the ball past goalkeeper Desmond Noel for a 2-0 lead.

Holden, of the Houston Dynamo of MLS, became the 45th U.S. player to score a goal in his national team debut.

The U.S. was playing for only the second time ever on July 4. Fifteen years ago in the World Cup in Palo Alto, Calif., the U.S. fell to Brazil 1-0.

This time, the U.S. men were successful on the holiday. With a 22-0-1 record in Gold Cup group play, they are the favorite in Group B.

Adu got it started, but Rogers was the star. He finished with a goal and two assists. He scored in the 60th minute when he ran ahead of the defense and was onside to take a long ball from Logan Pause. Rogers had a teammate with him against the goalkeeper, but took the shot himself and scored easily.

"It was nice to come on out here and play together and get a good result," Rogers said.

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The loudest cheers of the early evening came for Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans, who entered the game as a substitute at defender in the 63rd minute. Every time Evans touched the ball, the Qwest Field crowd roared.

"Good to get some minutes, for sure," Evans said. "Obviously it's special when you put on the national team jersey."

Charlie Davies, another Confederations Cup player, ended the scoring with a goal in the 68th minute.

Honduras beat Haiti 1-0 in the opener. Announced attendance for the two matches was 15,387.

"When you represent your country on Independence Day, it carries a special meaning," Bradley said. "You feel it when they play the national anthem and you absolutely feel it when you look into the stands and you see the flags and people wearing the red, white and blue.

"To be able to open up the Gold Cup here in Seattle, I think, worked really well."

Other game

Honduras 1, Haiti

Carlos Costly headed in a cross from the left side in the 76th minute to lead Honduras to a 1-0 win over Haiti in the teams' first match of Gold Cup group play.

The Honduran side was the aggressor on offense and had more chances to score than Haiti, a Gold Cup longshot.

Haiti faces Grenada in its second match of Group B on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., while Honduras will take on the U.S. in the second game of that doubleheader at RFK Stadium.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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