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“I think Antigua did a very good job defending. They made it very tight. They made it difficult for us to create more chances,” Klinsmann said.

Usually a possession-oriented midfielder, Torres started at left back following injuries to Fabian Johnson and Edgar Castillo. Klinsmann left himself potentially short at the position by omitting Eric Lichaj from his 23-man training camp roster. If Johnson can’t return from his calf injury for Tuesday’s qualifier at Guatemala, Bocanegra appears likely to start at left back.

“Those games are tricky,” said Klinmann, a former German national team star and coach. “At the end of the day, I think the three points is the starting point that we wanted to have. We have that. We know obviously after a evening like that that we have to step it up a lot going into Guatemala, which we will do.”

Two teams from the group, which also includes Jamaica, advance to next year’s six-nation regional finals, which will produce three qualifiers for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

After going 6-5-2 in exhibitions after Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley as coach last July, the Americans played their first competitive match since blowing a two-goal lead and losing to Mexico 4-2 in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup last June 25.

Terrence Boyd, the 21-year-old son of an American serviceman and a German mother, entered in the 79th minute on a rainy night and now is tied to the United States in international competition.

Klinsmann started an offense-minded 4-3-3 formation, with Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones and Bradley in the midfield, and Donovan, Dempsey and Gomez up front.

The U.S. failed to dominate possession in the lategoing and seemed to have heavy legs. Still the Americans outshot Antigua 19-7 and had a 14-2 advantage in corner kicks, including 9-0 in the first half.

“We’re still a work in progress,” Dempsey said after scoring his 27th goal of the season for club and country. “You always want to push to do better. We don’t want to move backward. We always want to go further than we did the last World Cup. We want to do something special.”

While Antigua had few chances in the first half, Dexter Blackstock was in position to test Howard in the 38th minute only to have his shot blocked by center back Clarence Goodson. Antigua’s players grabbed the sides of his head in disbelief.

“We can play better,” said Bocanegra, the U.S. captain. “It’s the first qualifier. We’re not peaking yet. We got the three points.”