CHICAGO — Carlos Bocanegra scored on a diving header off Landon Donovan's corner kick in the 68th minute, and the United States rallied to beat Honduras 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier Saturday night.
Coming off a 3-1 loss at Costa Rica on Wednesday, the United States fell behind when Carlos Costly scored in the fifth minute. Donovan, the best U.S. player throughout the match, tied the score with a penalty kick in the 43rd minute after a needless handball by Mario Besta.
Donovan then started the play for the go-ahead goal with a corner kick that was headed down by Clint Dempsey, who outjumped Hendry Thomas. Bocanegra charged in and, horizontal to the field, headed it in from about 3 yards for his 11th international goal.
Bocanegra came out three minutes later, holding his right leg.
A crowd of 55,647 attended the first-ever qualifier at Soldier Field, site of the 1994 World Cup opener. While the game was played on American soil, the dominant support was for Honduras, a Central American nation of about 7.6 million, Fans in blue and white appeared to outnumber red-clad American supporters by a 4-to-1 margin.
In the final minutes, fans threw a few cups filled with liquid at U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Seeking its sixth straight World Cup berth, the United States (3-1-1) is second in the final round of North and Central American qualifying with 10 points, two behind Costa Rica (4-1), which won 3-2 at Trinidad and Tobago. Honduras (1-2-1) is third with four points, ahead of Mexico (1-0-2) and El Salvador (0-1-2), who played later Saturday. T&T (0-2-2) is last.
The top three nations qualify for next year's 32-nation field in South Africa, and the No. 4 team goes to a playoff against the fifth-place team in South America for another berth. After going to the Confederations Cup, the U.S. resumes qualifying at Mexico on Aug. 12.
The United States has lost just one home qualifier in 24 years, 3-2 to Honduras in September 2001 at Washington, D.C. The U.S. team is 16-0-1 at home in qualifying since that defeat.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley changed four starters from Wednesday, inserting right back Jonathan Spector, left back Jonathan Bornstein, midfielder Ricardo Clark and forward Conor Casey. DaMarcus Beasley, Marvell Wynne Jr. and Jose Francisco Torres were benched, and Michael Bradley was suspended for getting his second yellow card of qualifying.
The U.S. missed the steadying presence of Bradley, the movement in front of the goal of injured forward Brian Ching and the energy of injured right back Frankie Hejduk.
Costly scored after a terrible giveaway by Dempsey in the middle of the U.S. half. Dempsey made a blind backheel that was picked up by Wilson Palacios. He dished off to Costly, whose left-footed shot beat Howard from 22 yards.
Donovan tied the score after a hand ball on Besta, who batted a bounding ball in the area with his left hand. Donovan's penalty kick, to the upper left of goalkeeper Noel Valladares, was his American record 11th goal in qualifying and 39th in 110 international appearances.
After Bocanegra's goal, second-half sub Danilo Turcios put a shot over the crossbar off a cross from Walter Martinez. Ricardo Clark saved a goal when he tipped the ball away from a Honduran in the 81st.