The United States men's national soccer team continued its dominant run through the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup by beating El Salvador 5-1 in the quarterfinals, advancing to take on Honduras on Tuesday.
It was a total team effort from the American side. Not only did they continue to score goals at an astounding rate, but they also got some brilliant defense from a recent call-up to help fend off any potential for a letdown or blown lead.
#USMNT with 9 wins in a row! Thanks for following today and have a great Sunday everyone!— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) July 21, 2013
After his hiatus from the game, though, it was Landon Donovan once again leading the charge. The veteran served as the catalyst for the formidable attack yet again and keyed his side to victory.
Let's take a closer look at Donovan's brilliant showing along with the other Americans who had distinguished efforts against El Salvador.
From the beginning, it was clear that Donovan wasn't going to allow his team to be lackadaisical on the pitch. Donovan set up Clarence Goodson off a set corner play for the first goal to give the Americans the early advantage:
Numerous other opportunities were created by the forward, too, including another assist to recent call-up Eddie Johnson, which facilitated the insurance goal at 3-1 in the 60th minute.
At 78', it was Donovan's turn to find the net. It came when the savvy scorer used a nifty maneuver to get around goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo.
That made up for some of the attempts Donovan had earlier on when he tried to chip it over Portillo, who denied him on those occasions. However, El Salvador's last line of defense suffered the consequences of leaving any daylight for Donovan.
Given how well Donovan has played thus far and how he's come into his own as such a leader, it's hard to fathom that he could be left off the U.S. World Cup roster in 2014.
Who was the most impressive American perfomer vs. El Salvador?
It proved to be a magnificent call, because Besler's presence is already being felt on the defensive side of the pitch for the Americans.
Although Goodson deservedly got a lot of attention for notching the first goal of the match, it was Besler who held his ground defensively as well as anyone. Besler stepped in as the heart of the defense seamlessly.
Scoring has been a problem in the past for the Americans in international play, but they are scoring in spades in the Gold Cup.
To extend its current winning streak, though, the consistency of Besler will be critical to the United States' success.
Credit can't be taken away from the offensive firepower on display for the Americans—including a particularly pretty goal by Joe Corona.
Having said that, Rimando shined bright in what was arguably the most critical juncture of the match.
The 34-year-old goalkeeper was staked a 1-0 lead, but a beautiful lob pass from midfield by Andres Flores set up a golden chance for striker Rodolfo Zelaya to pound home the equalizer. Zelaya had a reasonable angle, but fed it to the center perfectly for Mark Lester Blanco.
Unfortunately for the El Salvador squad, the keeper was there to deflect it away. Then, the ball deflected out to no man's land in the box, but Rimando dove to his left post to knock the ball out for a corner kick.
Merely three or so minutes later, the Americans seized momentum of the match thanks to Corona's goal, which, essentially, was the game-winner.
It's difficult to fathom how things would have developed had Rimando not denied El Salvador a shot at the tie early on, though.