A young American defense came apart on a hot, tropical afternoon, and the US opened the final round of World Cup qualifying with a loss for the first time in 24 years.
Jerry Bengtson took advantage of a defensive mix-up to score the go-ahead goal in the 79th minute, and Honduras rallied to beat the US, 2-1, at San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Clint Dempsey put the US ahead in the 36th minute with an impressive volley, but the US gave up the lead when Juan Carlos Garcia scored with a bicycle kick in the 40th that should make the highlights reels of the best goals of 2013.
Bengtson , who plays for the New England Revolution, scored the winner when defender Geoff Cameron and goalie Tim Howard both went for a pass by Maynor Figueroa to Oscar Boniek Garcia. That allowed Garcia to tap the ball across to Bengtson for a shot into an open net.
Qualifying resumes when the US hosts Costa Rica on March 22 at Commerce City, Colo. , then plays four days later at Mexico. The Americans play at Jamaica on June 7., then plays four days later at Mexico. The Americans play at Jamaica on June 7.
‘‘You never want to start with zero, but you can’t panic. There’s nine more games to go,’’ US midfielder Michael Bradley said.