USA vs. Honduras: Players to Watch During Semifinal Matchup

Tim KeeneyContributor IJuly 23, 2013

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 21:  Kyle Beckerman #14 celebrates with Landon Donovan #10 of the United States after Mix Diskerud #8 scored a goal in the second half against El Salvador during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal game at M&T Bank Stadium on July 21, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

We'll just call this one the rubber match. 

Not necessarily known as a heated—or evenly fought—matchup (the United States is 14-3-4 against Honduras all time), the Stars and Stripes and Los Catrachos have established quite the interesting rivalry over the last five months.

In February, Honduras shocked the Americans with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano to start Round 4 of World Cup qualifying. 

Unfortunately for Honduras, that woke the Americans up from their slumber of mediocrity. 

Jurgen Klinsmann's squad has won nine matches in a row since that point, including a 1-0 revenge win over Honduras at The RioT Stadium in June.

The A-Teamers are clicking. The B-Teamers are clicking. The Americans are firing on all cylinders right now, and there's no question they are the favorites to win this tournament. 

Still, Honduras serves as a formidable opponent in Wednesday's Gold Cup semifinal, and to overlook the Central America squad would have the Americans feeling like Gob

Let's take a look at some players who will prove crucial for the compelling battle at Cowboys Stadium. 


Landon Donovan, United States

Might as well start with the obvious. Fresh off a lengthy break from international play, Landon Donovan has quickly re-established himself as one of the premier players in North America—and obvious top player in this tournament. 

During Sunday's 5-1 quarterfinal drubbing of El Salvador, Donovan was the maestro, scoring one goal and assisting on three others:

At this point, it's obvious that Donovan will be included in Klinsmann's World Cup squad, so there's nothing more to prove on that front.

However, for the man who has a ridiculous three goals and four assists in the tournament and has looked deadly accurate out of the midfield, it's more of "what will he do next?" thing. 

Don't be surprised if he puts on a fitting encore to one of the most transcendent American performances of the year. 


Andy Najar, Honduras

With four different goal scorers—Marvin Chavez, Jorge Claros, Rony Martinez and Andy Najar—in four games, it's difficult to project where Honduras' final-third production will come from. 

Still, it's hard to deny the allure of Najar, especially after his memorable Sunday night. 

The 20-year-old went to high school in Virginia and played with D.C. United for multiple seasons, so playing at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore was a bit of a homecoming for the current Anderlecht winger. 

Playing in front of friends and family, all he did was score the game-winning goal, which also happened to be his first international goal:

With blazing speed and the capability to make dangerous runs down the touchline, the former MLS Rookie of the Year is a burgeoning, exciting talent who seems primed for great things. 

The United States' back four has been inconsistent, and even if Najar doesn't find the back of the net again, he will prove vital in creating chances for Honduras. 


Stuart Holden, United States

Still getting back into playing shape, Stuart Holden was held out of action against El Salvador. 

Against Honduras, Klinsmann is going to need the 27-year-old midfielder. 

Holden, who was born in Scotland, has never been void of talent, but he has always had trouble staying healthy. 

When he is 100 percent, though, he's a smart midfielder who makes solid runs and always picks out the right passes. Really, he does everything well and is the exact type of player you want in that central midfield role. 

Although he may not play the full 90, he will be important in keying up the Americans' attack and moving them through to the finals.