In the United States' four matches thus far in the Gold Cup, the ol' Stars and Stripes has gone undefeated and vanquished its opponents by a combined score of 16-3. In other words, the U.S. will be heavy favorites against Honduras.
But don't sleep on the underdogs. Honduras knocked Costa Rica out of this tournament and, while the country didn't bring many of its top players, this is still a team that is competing in World Cup qualifying. They won't be intimidated.
This should be a fun game, folks. Let's break down this semifinal clash.
When: Wednesday, July 24 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Watch: FOX Soccer
Streaming: FOX Soccer 2Go
What They're Saying
With the United States on a record nine-game winning streak, there's just one question to ask—is this the best soccer the United States has ever played?
Mike Cardillo of The Big Lead asked and attempted to answer that very question. Here's a snippet of his examination:
Still, this current Gold Cup has shown the U.S. owns a lot more quality depth than perhaps expected. In 2007 then-coach Bob Bradley juggled the Gold Cup and the Copa America, which the U.S. was invited as a guest to participate in. The U.S. beat Mexico in the final to win the Gold Cup, but a B/C team sent to Venezuela lost three games and went home. Two years later in 2009, the U.S. sent its top players to the Confederations Cup, where it ended up losing to Brazil in the final and sent a second-choice squad to the Gold Cup, which got embarrassed 5-0 by a full-strength Mexico.
Considering the way [Jurgen] Klinsmann has the U.S. playing along with Mexico’s continual struggles—its second choice lineup barely got by Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 on Saturday—maybe we’re setting up for some reverse symmetry of the 2009 result should the border rivals face off in the final Sunday in Chicago.
Is this month the best the U.S. has ever played? Probably not, but it at least needs to be in the discussion. Hail Klinsmann. Who would’ve thought?
United States Player to Watch: Stuart Holden
Landon Donovan is unquestionably this team's best player, while Chris Wondolowski is going to make it very hard for Klinsmann to keep him off the World Cup roster next summer. But for Stuart Holden, every moment on the pitch is the chance to prove he belongs in Brazil next year.
He certainly has the talent, but a history of injuries has derailed the 27-year-old's career. Holden is slowly working his way back to full strength—he's only played the full 90 minutes once in this tournament, and didn't play at all against El Salvador—but he's a very solid option in the midfield.
If he continues to improve at this Gold Cup and can keep himself healthy, Holden will give Klinsmann another promising option in a pretty strong midfield. If Holden starts in this game, look to see if he acts as the catalyst in the attack from his midfield position.
With the ability to go on strong runs or switch the play with long, diagonal passes over the defense, Holden can take over this game. And if he does, it's easy to see him playing himself onto the World Cup roster next year.
Honduras Player to Watch: Andy Najar
Honduras has scored four goals in four games, and four different players have scored them. This isn't a team with anything closely resembling a star, but Najar has certainly looked the most dangerous.
Najar has blazing speed and spent much of the Costa Rica game getting behind the defense and threatening from his wide position on the wing. The former DC United man is one player who could expose the one weakness the United States has shown in this tournament, an occasionally shaky back line.
You can bet shutting down Najar will be a priority in the United States game plan.
Which team wins?
The United States has been too dominant thus far to lose to Honduras. Honduras won't go down without a fight, and the United States may not keep a clean sheet, but one team has scored 16 goals in this tournament and the other has notched just four.
The United States will keep on rolling, winning this one 2-1.
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