U.S. forward Landon Donovan celebrates scoring against goalie Ricardo Jerez of Guatemala on a penalty kick during their friendly soccer match in San Diego

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.

MLS Cup Playoffs: FC Dallas 2-2 (3-5 agg.) Portland Timbers

Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers FC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The Portland Timbers are headed to their first MLS Cup in club history after defeating FC Dallas, 5-3 on aggregate, of the Western Conference finals (2-2 draw in the second leg). Fanendo Adi scored in Sunday’s second leg, giving Caleb Porter’s side a 4-1 aggregate lead before Ryan Hollingshead and Blas Perez scored inside the last 25 minutes to give Oscar Pareja’s bunch a late lifeline, but Lucas Melano’s spectacular tap-in sealed the Timbers’ trip to MLS Cup. The third seed heading into the playoffs, Portland bounced Sporting Kansas City in an epic penalty shootout in the knockout round and outlasted the Vancouver Whitecaps in the conference semifinals before knocking off the West’s top seed over two legs to advance to MLS Cup 2015. No matter who advances from the East finals later on Sunday, Portland will play away in MLS Cup, to either the New York Red Bulls or Columbus Crew SC.

[ MORE: Previewing the MLS weekend ]

Three Four moments that mattered

54′ — Adi fires past Gonzalez to make if 4-1 — Oscar Pareja elected to go with Walker Zimmerman at center back on Sunday, dropping regular starter Zach Loyd to the bench. On the game’s opening goal, it was Zimmerman who wound up on the ground as Adi received the ball, turned and fired a massive away goal past Jesse Gonzalez.

68′ — Diaz’s magical ball curled home by Hollingshead — Mauro Diaz is a wonderful magician capable of playing the kill through ball from anywhere on the field — this we’ve known for quite some time. His chipped through ball to set up Hollingshead’s goal was extraordinarily brilliant, even for him.

73′ — Perez heads home the free kick to pull within one — Would you be surprised to hear that it was Diaz who set up FCD’s second goal? His free kick was Perez-finding missile and found the head of the Panamanian striker at the top of the six-yard box, where 34-year-old headed home with ease.

90+5′ — Melano rounds Gonzalez, seals MLS Cup berth — Poor Jesse Gonzalez. Absolutely schooled and posterized by Lucas Melano. What a way to sew up a place in the championship final.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Mauro Diaz

Goalscorers: Adi (54′), Hollingshead (68′), Perez (73′), Melano (90+5′)

La Liga & Serie A: Real Madrid bounce back; Juventus on the charge

Gareth Bale, Real Madrid CF
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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights:

Eibar 0-2 Real Madrid

Real Madrid bounced back from back-to-back La Liga defeats with a 2-0 victory away to Eibar on Sunday. Gareth Bale (below video) and Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty kick) provided the goals to keep Rafa Benitez‘s bunch (27 points) third in the league, two points behind Atletico Madrid and six behind leaders Barcelona.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Getafe 2-0 Villarreal
Rayo Vallecano 0-3 Athletic Bilbao
Sevilla 1-0 Valencia

[ MORE: Saturday’s La Liga roundup ]

Roma 0-2 Atalanta

Losing at home to sides currently in a relegation battle — rarely a good idea, especially if you fancy yourselves title challengers, but that didn’t stop Roma from doing just that on Sunday. Alejandro Gomez and German Denis scored the goals to knock off a 10-man Roma side (Maicon – 81st minute) and keep Rudi Garcia’s bunch (27 points) from gaining ground on any of the three teams currently ahead of them — Inter Milan, Napoli and Fiorentina — all of whom play on Monday.

AC Milan 4-1 Sampdoria

M’Baye Niang scored twice, while Giacomo Bonaventura and Luiz Adriano (below video) added single tallies for AC Milan (23 points) to keep pace with the top-five pack in Serie A. After 14 rounds of games, the Rossoneri sit sixth, a point outside fifth (UEFA Europa League) and five points out of third (UEFA Champions League).

Palermo 0-3 Juventus

Don’t look now, but here come Juventus. Sunday’s 3-0 triumph over Palermo makes it four straight wins in the league for Massimiliano Allegri’s side — a run that pushes them all the way up to fifth in the league (24 points), just six points off the pace of leaders Inter, who play on Monday. Mario Mandzukic (below video), Stefano Sturaro and Simone Zaza scored the goals for the world’s most frightening fifth-place team.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Torino 2-0 Bologna
Chievo 2-3 Udinese
Frosinone 3-2 Hellas Verona
Genoa 1-2 Carpi
Empoli 1-0 Lazio

Monday’s Serie A schedule

Sassuolo vs. Fiorentina (1 p.m. ET)
Napoli vs. Inter Milan (3 p.m. ET)

Arsenal’s injury crisis — add Sanchez, Cazorla, Koscielny to the list

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC
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From title challengers to just hoping to hold on to a top-four place while Arsene Wenger is forced to play reserves and academy players because half of his star players are currently out injured — the annual story of Arsenal.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Oct. 27, when Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both went down with injuries in the same game, marked the unofficial start of Arsenal’s 2015-16 injury crisis, but things didn’t really get going full bore until the last seven days, when five more players — four of them full-time starters — picked up injuries that will keep them out of action for anywhere between three weeks and three months.

Added to the list last weekend: Francis Coquelin (knee – three months minimum), Mikel Arteta (calf – three weeks)

Added to the list on Sunday: Alexis Sanchez (hamstring – MORE DETAILS), Santi Cazorla (knee), Laurent Koscielny (hip)

Following Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City, Wenger said Koscielny “could not walk” due to the hip spasm that forced him out of the game after just 11 minutes. He also divulged that Cazorla, who could not be subbed off because Wenger had already used all three subs late on, played the second half “on one leg.” Sanchez came into Sunday injured after picking up a hamstring injury in Arsenal’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Sunday’s PL roundup — Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs all draw ]

Arsenal fans were up in arms during the summer transfer window — let’s be honest, the following is true of every transfer window the last five years — crying out, “We must buy, we must buy.” Have a look at Arsenal’s complete injury list at the moment, and try to say, “They didn’t need to buy in the summer.”

In chronological order: Danny Welbeck (knee – early 2016 return), Tomas Rosicky (knee – Christmas time return), Jack Wilshere (leg – Christmas time return), Theo Walcott (calf – December return), Mikel Arteta (calf – three weeks), Francis Coquelin (knee – three months minimum), Laurent Koscielny (hip – to be assessed), Alexis Sanchez (hamstring – to be assessed), Santi Cazorla (knee – to be assessed)

WATCH: PL Download — Crystal Palace: South London and Proud

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Check out the latest episode of Premier League Download, a look inside Crystal Palace and the club’s passionate supporters.

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Win, lose or draw it’s always a party for the fans of Crystal Palace and Roger Bennett travels to Selhurst Park to learn how the beloved team went from Championship strugglers to a Premier League success story.

[ WATCH: Past episodes of PL Download ]