By IVES GALARCEP
The U.S. Men’s National Team has been dominating the competition at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but Honduras was supposed to offer the Americans their toughest test of the tournament to date.
Landon Donovan saw to it that the Catrachos were just another victim on the U.S. train to the Gold Cup final.
Just three days after his masterful showing in a 5-1 quarterfinal win vs. El Salvador, Donovan stole the show yet again, scoring two goals and assisting on another to help lead the U.S. to a 3-1 victory over Honduras on Wednesday night in Dallas.
Alejandro Bedoya, making a surprise start in place of Joe Corona, made the most of his chance to start, setting up both of Donovan’s goals.
Now the U.S. will play in the Gold Cup Final on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago, where the Americans will face the winner of the Mexico-Panama semifinal, to be played on Wednesday night. They will be searching for their first Gold Cup title since 2007.
The U.S. could play in the final without head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was ejected late in Wednesday’s match for arguing a blown call by the match referee, who missed several clear-cut calls on the evening. The fate of Klinsmann’s participation in the final will be determined by the CONCACAF’s Disciplinary Committee.
Eddie Johnson opened the scoring when he raced onto a Donovan pass in the 11th minute and finished his chance for his second goal in two Gold Cup matches. Donovan made it 2-0 when Alejandro Bedoya beat the Honduran defense to a ball and chipped to Donovan, who chested the pass and finished expertly in the 27th minute.
Honduras was overwhelmed in the first half, and never looked like scoring, but the second half saw them find some hope when Nery Medina headed home a Marvin Chavez free kick in the 52nd minute.
The U.S. needed just one minute to respond to Medina’s goal, with Goodson springing Bedoya with a long pass down the right flank. Bedoya centered the pass to Donovan, who was crashing in on the goal and finished it off with ease to put the U.S. back in control of the match.
Klinsmann made a pair of surprising lineup decisions, starting Bedoya over Joe Corona, and Clarence Goodson ahead of Omar Gonzalez. Both Bedoya and Goodson had hands in multiple goals, with Goodson enjoying a solid match in central defense. His lone mis-step being a turnover late in the match that Nick Rimando helped clean up.
Bedoya also had his second-half mistake when he lost his mark on Medina on the Honduras goal, but he responded quickly to get down field and help set up Donovan’s second goal.
While Donovan was the star of the night, U.S. midfielder Kyle Beckerman also turned in a masterful performance, dominating place in central midfield in what was arguably his best match of the Gold Cup.
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