United States: Offensive Masterpiece Overshadows Defensive Lapses in QF Win
All of the attention after the United States' 5-1 victory over El Salvador in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup will go directly toward the attacking display put on by the Yanks, and rightfully so.
But if you look deeper into the match, the offensive firepower from the home side overshadowed a few major defensive lapses.
The offensive strategy for Jürgen Klinsmann's side worked to perfection against an El Salvador team that had a blatant advantage at M&T Bank Stadium with the crowd decked out in blue.
Klinsmann's master plan succeeded for the first time in the 22nd minute as a short corner played by José Torres to Landon Donovan resulted in a goal from defender Clarence Goodson.
Donovan's cross from just outside the right edge of the penalty area found the crossing Goodson, and before El Salvador keeper Dagoberto Portillo could even react, the San Jose Earthquakes defender had his fifth international goal.
Just six minutes after Goodson's opening goal, Joe Corona finished off a piece of individual brilliance as he slotted home his second career international goal into the bottom left corner of the net.
With the Americans on an attacking high, they forgot to defend before the halftime whistle as they let Rodolfo Zelaya run across the penalty area before DaMarcus Beasley intervened by bumping the El Salvador winger.
As Zelaya fell to the ground, the referee signaled for a penalty, and the disgust from American fans about their back four reared its deserved ugly head yet again.
Concern about an equalizer continued for the first 10 minutes of the second half as Zelaya ran past Matt Besler on a few occasions.
With a spark needed for the Yanks, Klinsmann inserted the newly-blonde Eddie Johnson into the lineup, and within 30 seconds of the Seattle Sounders forward being on the pitch, he delivered the required energy boost.
Once Johnson entered the match and scored in the 60th minute, the Americans took control of the match and pummeled the team with the most fans in the stands.
Landon Donovan and Mix Diskerud added a goal apiece toward the end of the second half. Both of those goals mirrored the Klinsmann attitude of continuing to score instead of being content with scoring just one or two goals.
While a five-goal outburst against the 94th-best team in the world according to FIFA is a spectacular result, the Yanks still have to be concerned about their defending.
Right-back Michael Parkhurst looked vulnerable after moving forward in attack, and while Besler did have a great match at centre-back alongside Goodson, he was caught out a few times by Zelaya in the second half.
With either Honduras or Costa Rica looming in the semifinals at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday night, the back four of the Yanks must be more securely knit than they were in the 15-minute span around halftime to ensure safe passage to next Sunday's final at Soldier Field in Chicago.
#USMNT extends its team-record win streak to nine straight games.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) July 21, 2013
Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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