USMNT Report: Shell Shock in San Diego

USA prepares for upcoming Gold Cup with a 6-0 victory over Guatemala
by Herb Scribner   |   Saturday, July 06, 2013

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States Men’s National Team, a day after its nation celebrated the independence it won from a revolutionary battle 237 years ago, fired all cannons and earned a 6-0 rout over Guatemala on Friday night.

It was a historic friendly game, too, as Landon Donovan, in his 1st national team game in nearly a year, recorded his 50th and 51st international goals for the United States. And, on the other side of the spectrum, Chris Wondowloski, the prolific MLS scorer, and Alejandro Bedoya, netted their 1st goals for Team USA.

The win came easy, and it surely sets the pace going forward.

GUATEMALA HIGHLIGHTS: Things were a bit hectic in the opening 30 minutes of the Guatemala contest. The Yanks packed the midfield and the game felt incredibly congested. Los Chapines did find space eventually and had attempts at goal.

Everything changed in the 43rd minute as Herculez Gomez pounced on a ball bouncing through the box to net the USA’s opening goal of the contest.

The USA came out in the 2nd half with a better attacking structure. Donovan, who had been playing on the right wing, moved forward and central, and the results showed. He pressured often, which led to a light shove down in the box. The USA earned a penalty, which Donovan buried with a soft and cheeky strike, putting the US up 2-0.

Donovan continued his success in the 72nd minute with a speeding run through the midfield. His attempt to relay the ball off was deflected, but the ball bounced to Wondolowski, who slotted it home to the netting to earn the 3-0 lead.

Within 2 minutes, the USA scored another. Donovan scored his 2nd goal of the contest, connecting off a beautiful lofting pass sent in by Stuart Holden, who had his own back-and-forth play with Alejandro Bedoya and Mix Diskerud, to put the US up 4-0. And 2 minutes after that goal, Clarence Goodson, the veteran defender, added his name to the scoresheet with a top-shelf strike and gave the USA a commanding 5-0 lead.

But the Americans weren't done yet. Brek Shea rolled a brilliant ball into space right in the center of the box, and it was Bedoya who came steamrolling through to close the game out with a 6-0 scoreline.

POST-GAME REACTIONS: Despite his scoring performance, Donovan said he wouldn't get carried away with overhyping them. But he said scoring raised his confidence level.

Klinsmann also expressed his pleasure in Donovan's success. But he also praised Wondolowski for finding his first USA goal.

ANALYSIS: This game wasn’t about next year’s World Cup, or about how the world views the USMNT. It was simply a tune-up match in preparation for the Gold Cup, giving USA fans a chance to enjoy some soccer and not worry about the implications of the result.

It was, by far, the most dominating performance the United States has had this year, maybe during all of the Klinsmann era. The Americans owned just about every minute of this game after the initial half hour, especially in the 2nd half. Klinsmann’s team attacked and took chances, playing very creatively throughout the contest.

And this result, a 6-0 win that could easily have been higher had a few unlucky chances found netting, should have been expected. Guatemala didn’t qualify for the Hexagonal phase of World Cup qualifying, nor for the upcoming Gold Cup. No matter which USA side took the field last night, this was meant to be a dominating performance by the USA.

Last night, Donovan was right alongside Gomez on many runs and opportunities, and he kept himself involved in nearly every offensive possession. The Los Angeles Galaxy star was lacking brilliance in the 1st half, but he definitely made up for it later in the game.

Donovan vastly improved in the 2nd half as he moved more centrally and up top, which is good news for right winger Graham Zusi, who has owned that right midfield spot in recent months with the USA.

The penalty kick goal didn’t shine too much light on Donovan’s success in the red, white and blue. It was a chip that didn’t have much power behind it and could have easily been saved. It seemed to be more of a confidence booster for Donovan rather than a showcase of his skill. But his 2nd goal – connecting off Holden’s well-timed and excellent loft – and his continued runs and offensive pressure were clear indicators that he’s still America’s best.

DaMarcus Beasley and Brek Shea both did well on the left. Despite being a leftback, Beasley pushed forward a lot, which is expected given that his natural position is in the midfield. Shea created plenty of space on multiple opportunities, but his passes and crosses were off and misguided.

Holden succeeded in the midfield, too, delivering far passes that he’s been known to give. He’s prospered before in the Gold Cup, and this just may be the tournament that brings him back into the national team spotlight.

Some players were invisible for much of the game, especially Edgar Castillo and Michael Parkhurst. Castillo has shown very little time on the ball, and has been a running body that hasn’t created very many chances. Parkhurst and the rest of the USA backline didn’t see much action, but when they did, they remained poised and strong. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando had little work to do, save for a mishap between the Real Salt Lake veteran and Clarence Goodson in the 1st half.

Despite the blemishes, the United States gained a very large sense of optimism from this 6-0 thrashing. Klinsmann was all smiles at points during the match, which is exactly how he, and the rest of the team, should feel after a win like this.

Guatemala is by no means a top-level side. And, as previously mentioned, this result should be expected. But a 6-0 domination by the B team surely beats the American A side’s 1-1 draw from nearly a year ago and the 3-1 win from last October. This win shows progress, development and the depth the USMNT has.

And for a team that’s had to come back from early deficits, trudge through extreme weather and use luck’s hand to earn points, winning handily is something to take pride in. High optimism and a boosted morale could make all the difference in the approaching Gold Cup.

NEXT UP: July 9 – Gold Cup: United States vs. Belize, JELD-WEN Field, Portland, Ore. 11 p.m. EST, FOX Soccer Channel.

Herb SCRIBNER

Nationality:
USA
College:
UMass Amherst
Club Domestic:
RSL
Club Foreign:
FC Barcelona
SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.
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