Donovan grabs 50th goal as United States routs Guatemala 6-0


Landon Donovan grabbed a career-defining mark and Chris Wondolowski added his first career international score as the United States picked apart a rebuilding Guatemalan squad 6-0 in San Diego.

The United States dominated possession and never felt pressured at the back as the USMNT looked fluid in their friendly serving as a Gold Cup warmup.

Donovan started the match and picked up a brace, the first marking his 50th career international goal for the United States, becoming the first American man to reach the half-century mark.

The match began very narrow-minded as Guatemala funneled the United States through the middle, much like a number of teams tried during the hexagonal round the last few months. There was plenty of passing through the midfield but the U.S. found it difficult to break down the numerous Guatemala defense early on.

It finally opened up before halftime, and the U.S. sent a number of dangerous balls into the box before a Jose Torres ball missed the lunging foot of Joe Corona, but fell right to Herculez Gomez who banged it home from very close range for the 1-0 lead.

(MORE: U.S. player ratings from the night)

Donovan, who had a relatively quiet start to the match, began to make noise in the second half. He became the target of many attacks, moving into more of a central role up front, and he was clearly pushed in the six-yard box during a series of play to earn a penalty.

Donovan immediately picked up the ball and held it, getting confirmation from the touchline he could take it before a cool, easy chip right down the middle for his milestone goal.

The 30-year-old then set up the third goal with a brilliant run from the middle third down through to the top of the box before he attempted to slot through Stuart Holden. The ball deflected off a Guatemalan defender and fell right at the feet of Chris Wondolowski, who pressed it past Ricardo Jerez for his first career international goal for the U.S. in 12 caps.

(MORE: What we learned from Friday’s U.S. win in San Diego)

Donovan grabbed his second when Mix Diskerud and Stuart Holden played the ball forward and Holden’s beautiful chip cross found Landon in the middle of the box for an easy finish to make it 4-0.

Clarence Goodson continued the goal flood, connecting on a ping-pong corner chance in the 85th minute with a right-footed blast just under the bar. Alejandro Bedoya capped the nightmare evening for Guatemala meeting a low cross from Stuart Holden with a fine finish in the 88th.

To be fair, the opposition barely offered a bit of quality, but a number of USMNT players impressed on the night. In the second half, the pair of Holden and Diskerud in the midfield completely controlled the pace of play, not only quarterbacking the United States attack but also putting a halt to any Guatemalan pressure before it was able to build. The pair were a big reason why the U.S. finished the night with over 65% of possession.

The United States back line hardly put a foot wrong when tested, with the central pair Oguchi Onyewu and Goodson pairing wonderfully in the middle. Captain DaMarcus Beasley was a force down the left, providing plenty in the attack as well as becoming a brick wall at the back.

Brek Shea made an immediate impact on his 60th minute introduction, providing a number of dangerous crosses as well as trying a shot or two as well. He isn’t in the Gold Cup squad, but it’s nice to see him get some quality minutes with the squad ahead of the next round of hexagonal matches.

The USMNT completed 90% of their 657 passes, something Klinsmann has stressed his entire tenure with the United States, and that precise passing led to 23 total shots, 11 of which were on target. On the other end, Guatemala just offered five shots on goal, none of which ended up on target.

While the competition wasn’t close to threatening, the solid performance all around is a promising sight before the Gold Cup where a lack of silverware would be considered by many as a bit of a failure.

Injuries leave host Russia limping ahead of World Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) With less than three months to go until the World Cup in Russia, the host nation’s players are dropping like flies.

A spate of knee injuries this year has left the Russians hurrying to find cover at the back and trying to replace a key attacking threat.

[ MORE: Zlatan leaves Man Utd ]

First, center back Georgy Dzhikiya tore his knee ligaments during a friendly in January. The same happened to Viktor Vasin a month later. Russia’s defense was already thin, so those injuries prompted calls for the 35-year-old Berezutsky twins, Alexei and Vasily, to return from international retirement. They refused to do so.

Now coach Stanislav Cherchesov must also seek a replacement for Zenit St. Petersburg forward Alexander Kokorin, who tore his knee ligaments in the Europa League last week. That puts more responsibility on the shoulders of Fyodor Smolov, now likely to be Russia’s undisputed first-choice striker for the World Cup.

“We’re not complaining about anything,” Cherchesov said Thursday. “Fate is often testing us in various ways but we always try to be ready.”

The injuries mean Cherchesov will be forced to experiment during Friday’s friendly against Brazil and Tuesday’s game against France, both at home. Short-term medical issues have ruled three more fringe players out of those games.

Here’s a closer look at the issues facing Russia ahead of the World Cup:


If you had to pick one Russian striker for the World Cup, it might as well be Fyodor Smolov.

On track to be the Russian league’s top scorer for the third season in a row, Smolov has been working on his English skills as he eyes a move to the Premier League.

Smolov was linked with West Ham during the January transfer window but opted to stay with FC Krasnodar, saying he didn’t want to abandon his team as it battles for a spot in the Champions League next season.

With Kokorin almost certainly out of the picture for the World Cup, Russia’s backup options include Anton Zabolotny, who is still settling in at Zenit after a recent move from newly promoted FC Tosno. The 22-year-old Alexei Miranchuk can play as a forward, but is better in a deeper role.


Russian players tend to stay in their domestic league, but there’s one big exception in midfield – Denis Cheryshev.

The winger came through the Real Madrid youth system when his father was coaching there and is now at Villarreal, but frequent injuries have dented hopes he can add some spice to the national team.

Now he’s fit again and in the squad to face Brazil and France.

Elsewhere in the midfield, there are the promising and creative youngsters Roman Zobnin and Alexander Golovin, but Russia doesn’t currently have a dominant defensive midfielder.


Cherchesov has a reputation as a difficult coach to get along with, and Russian media have regularly reported fallings-out with various players.

One of those outside the squad is Igor Denisov, who last played for Russia in 2016. He has been playing well in a defensive midfield role this season for Lokomotiv Moscow, the team at the top of the Russian league standings. Denisov and Cherchesov clashed during the latter’s time as Dynamo Moscow coach.

Also absent from the squad is forward Artyom Dzyuba. A talented striker who has scored 11 goals in 22 games for Russia but has a reputation for being hot-headed, Dzyuba was deemed surplus to requirements at Zenit and sent on loan to Arsenal Tula. In three games there, he has scored three goals and set up two more to put himself back in the World Cup contention.


Russia’s soccer team hasn’t escaped the country’s doping scandals.

Defensive midfielder Ruslan Kambolov is under investigation by FIFA for a possible doping case revealed by Moscow laboratory documents, but hasn’t been suspended.

The team’s schedule was disrupted Wednesday by drug-testing, which took more than five hours and delayed training. On Thursday, the team said five more doping control officers turned up to take samples from the team.

Wilshere injured, could play in England’s second friendly

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I have no idea what tendinopathy means, but Arsenal and England will be hoping it’s only a minor thing for Jack Wilshere.

[ MORE: Zlatan leaves Man Utd ]

The resurgent Gunners midfielder is going to miss at least one of England’s friendlies this international break after suffering a knee injury in training.

“Jack just felt some tendinopathy in his knee but it’s nothing too serious,” Southgate said. “We decided to leave him back at base and see how he responds, and we hope to have him with us on Saturday.”

England is in Netherlands on Friday, and returns to London to host Italy at Wembley on Tuesday.

Arsenal doesn’t play until April 1 when it visits Stoke City.

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

[ MORE: MLS All Stars vs. Juventus ]

The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.