BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, July 25, 2013
The United States national team advanced to the final of the 2013 Gold Cup after a convincing win over Honduras on Wednesday night.
Entering into the tournament, the U.S team was firing on all cylinders offensively and Landon Donovan has been playing like his former self leading the way with both goals and assists.
Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann came out with a starting lineup that featured few surprises. The only noteworthy change was that Alejandro Bedoya took the place over Joe Corona who has been having a very good tournament for the U.S team. Also, Stuart Holden returned to the starting lineup over Mix Diskerud and Omar Gonzalez stayed on the bench despite having been a high profile late addition to the team.
The U.S controlled the game from the start and go the first goal in the 11th minute on a combination play between forwards Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan. It began with Johnson faking to receive a pass instead let the ball roll through to Donovan. Johnson then made a quick move behind the Honduran defense and handled Donovan's pinpoint pass to move in alone against Honduras keeper Donis Escobar. He made no mistake on the finish with a powerful shot to give the U.S a 1-0 lead.
The game would take a violent and physical turn and referee Enrico Wijngaarde lost control. In the 17th minute Stuart Holden took an elbow to the face and several other players suffered hard challenges.
In the 27th minute, Donovan doubled the lead for the U.S when he took an beautiful chipped pass over the defense from Bedoya and fired a side footed shot past Escobar for a 2-0 lead.
Despite maintaining a possession edge, Honduras managed to get back into the game in the 52nd minute through a set piece. Marvin Chavez swung a free kick from the right side into the box and Nery Medina beat Clarence Goodson to head a pass past Nick Rimando to cut the deficit to 2-1
The Americans, however, quickly responded just a minute later when Goodson hit a long ball that found Bedoya on the right side. The New Jersey-born midfielder then swung a short cross that found a wide open Donovan for an easy tap-in and a 3-1 lead.
For Donovan, it brought his total to an astonishing seven goals and seven assists in his six games since returning to the U.S team. In addition, he was playing in his 150th international appearance and he now has a total of 56 goals and 55 assists in his career.
Honduras would continue to play physically for the remainder of the game and in the 87th minute it turned ugly. U.S captain DaMarcus Beasley was fouled hard again and Klinsmann protested vehemently to Wijngaarde and was sent off. Klinsmann's fate for the final will be determined by a CONCACAF disciplinary committee.
The U.S team outshot Honduras 18-11 with a 5-2 advantage on goal. Honduras, however, fouled the U.S 18 times with the U.S fouling on 13 occasions. Eddie Johnson, however, earned the only yellow card of the game in second half stoppage time.
The U.S team will face Panama in the final.