2013 Gold Cup Semifinals: 4 Major Takeaways from USA vs. Honduras
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The United States will advance to the 2013 Gold Cup finals after a thrilling 3-1 victory over Honduras.
Landon Donovan led the charge with two goals and one assist. while Honduras was able to only net one goal in the defeat.
After Honduras scored and made the game 2-1, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann continued the attack, which led to Donovan’s second goal.
However, Klinsmann might be watching the final from the stands after an altercation with the referee in the 87th minute.
The U.S. will look to complete the tournament undefeated when they take on Panama in the finals on Sunday in Chicago.
Let's take a look at four things we learned from the match with Honduras.
Eddie Johnson Will Back Up Jozy Altidore Next Summer
I’ve written about Eddie Johnson before, but he once again proved that he’s the type of change-of-pace forward the U.S. needs to win games.
In his goal against Honduras, Johnson showed to the ball and faked instead of controlling it. He made a beautiful turn and outran the Honduran defense to score the first goal of the game.
He was also dominant in the air. Every time a ball was in the air, Johnson contested it with a Honduran defender.
As a veteran of the USMNT, Johnson knows he needs to make the most of his chances.
His athleticism makes him the perfect fit to spell Jozy Altidore during the World Cup next year. If Klinsmann can bring him in with 10-15 minutes left when the Americans need a goal, Johnson might be the ideal replacement.
Jurgen Klinsmann Always Has a Trick Up His Sleeve
Klinsmann has given chances to so many players throughout the Gold Cup that almost everyone has had the opportunity to prove himself.
Just when we thought we had an idea of who would start the Honduras game, we were wrong.
Joe Corona has played well over the past few games, but Klinsmann chose Alejandro Bedoya to play right midfield instead. Bedoya only had one start, while Corona was admirable in his three, but that’s the nature of Klinsmann’s game.
Bedoya played well throughout the game, delivering two assists to Landon Donovan. On the second assist, immediately after the Honduran goal, Bedoya played a perfect pass across the face of the goal to a streaking Donovan.
Klinsmann continues to make the right moves; the U.S. has to hope his luck doesn’t run out.
Stop Talking About Stuart Holden’s Injuries
When I originally predicted the starting lineup for the Honduras game, I gave Stuart Holden the nod. After realizing the miserable field conditions at Cowboys Stadium, I retracted my statement.
Klinsmann went against what most people thought and gave him the start. Holden returned the favor by giving his coach a full 90 minutes.
While he didn’t have a great game, he didn’t disappoint. He had a few good shot opportunities but failed to put them on net.
But he had a great play when he was able to split the Honduran defense and make a run in the box. He was elbowed in the face (1:25 in the video) on the run, and the refs didn’t call it—I’ll get to that later—but it showed that he has recovered from his injuries.
The fact that Holden was able to play a full 90 minutes on the fake grass and green sand says a lot about his recovery. We need to stop talking about his injured past because he has played through the worst of it.
CONCACAF Refs Disappoint as Usual
Another reasonable complaint by Klinsmann
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The referees were overwhelmingly one-sided during the game. The Honduran players were malicious in the way they made tackles.
In particular, Jose Torres was tossed around along the sideline for his entire 67-minute stint. While Torres may have looked like the problem based on his reactions to the head referee, he couldn’t get a call when he was getting tackled hard.
The coach grabbed the ball and spiked it against the ground after DaMarcus Beasley was illegally cracked by two defenders. In a 3-1 game with three minutes to go, that was the last straw.
Since coaches can’t get red cards, Klinsmann still has a chance of coaching the final on Sunday. The CONCACAF Gold Cup disciplinary committee can fix the mistake that this miserable referee made because Klinsmann deserves to coach the final.
You hate to see a referee make the game about himself, but that’s what the official did.