ARLINGTON, Texas – The United States has never been so dominant in a Gold Cup. Not even close, really.
Sure, it’s an odd-duck of a tournament in some ways, sometimes unadorned with the best and brightest from participating countries, which is the case this time around.
Still, it says something that Jurgen Klinsmann’s men are rolling like never before in the regional competition, still not stretched a bit as Landon Donovan keeps leading the way. The United States didn’t just beat Honduras 3-1 in Wednesday’s semifinal, the Americans scored more goals than ever in a Gold Cup semifinal, which have traditionally been far more competitive than the contest in Texas.
The entire tournament is usually more difficult. Don’t forget, just two years ago the United States lost to Panama in the group stage. And the 1-0 semifinal win over Panama (yes, same team) a few days later was a bit of a struggle.
The word “struggle” has certainly not been linked to this year’s event.
They were dominant in the group stage (posting a 11-2 goal difference), which wasn’t a huge surprise. But the ease with which Klinsmann’s bunch are dispatching these teams in the elimination round is truly eye-opening.
El Salvador was in the game for a little while in Sunday’s quarterfinal but eventually succumbed to the U.S. pressure in the 5-1 afternoon.
Honduras was never even in the Wednesday’s contest outside Dallas. Solid positional play and tackling from Kyle Beckerman and Stuart Holden in the middle helped the United States grab hold of the game early, allowing time for Donovan and Eddie Johnson to do their thing.
Behind the U.S. central midfield pairing, Clarence Goodson and Matt Besler were sharp and confident, so Honduras never established any sort of offensive foothold on the game.
Even when Honduras nicked a goal on a set piece, the United States (Donovan … again!) re-established its two-goal lead about two minutes later.
By remaining in control throughout, the Americans were able to provide some much deserved relieve to Donovan, now the tournament’s co-leading scorer. He had played every minute of the Gold Cup (the only U.S. man to do so) before leaving to a heavy applause in the 72nd. Kyle Beckerman, likewise a busy man in the tournament, was also able to get about 20 minutes off. Both will be back in the starting lineup Sunday, presumably.
Speaking of Sunday, it’s on to Chicago for this bunch for the tournament final – and the current version has reason to feel very, very good about things.
Honduran manager Luis Fernando Suárez said nothing can be guaranteed, obviously, for Sunday’s match at Soldier Field, but called the United States the “most complete team” in the tournament. “They beat us in just about every aspect of the game tonight,” he said. “The football they have played so far proves they are the favorites.”