USMNT Report: Poised for Victory

The US enters tonight's semifinal against Honduras once again as favorites
by Herb Scribner   |   Wednesday, July 24, 2013

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

Familiar opponents will face off tonight, as the United States Men’s National Team will clash with Honduras in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals.

Currently on a 9-game winning streak, the Americans will enter Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, looking to continue its record run through the Gold Cup and extend its favorable ways into the final.

THE ROAD TO NOW: On Saturday in Baltimore, the United States sluggishly churned out a 5-1 victory over El Salvador. Landon Donovan played harder than anyone on the pitch, tallying 1 goal and 3 assists in the rout. The win for the US comes off the heels of going a perfect 3-0 in the group phase of the tournament.

PRE-GAME CHATTER: USMNT goalkeeper Nick Rimando said the USA has a lot of confidence heading into tonight's game after soundly beating El Salvador.

“We dominated the game,” he said. “There were instances where they got their chances, but overall we played great defensively. To keep the pressure on them and win the way we did give us a lot of confidence for the semifinal.”

Midfielder Joe Corona also said the team has a lot of positive thoughts going into the semifinal, especially because there’s a lot of team chemistry.

“The team has a lot of confidence. The chemistry is very good and we’re looking forward to semifinal,” he said.

ANALYSIS: Familiar opponents will meet again tonight, but the United States is the sure favorite to advance to the Gold Cup final.

This will be the 3rd time the USA plays Honduras in a Gold Cup semifinal. The last time the 2 sides clashed was in 2009 when the United States won 2-0. Four years prior, the Americans defeated Los Catrachos 2-1.

Honduras, along with Belgium, has handed the USA a loss this year (a 2-1 win in a World Cup Qualifier). It was a different squad that suffered the loss in San Pedro Sula, though, as Clint Dempsey and the WCQ squad suffered the loss. This will give us another peek into how different this Gold Cup squad and the most-used USMNT lineup truly are.

Something is surely brewing for this side, though. After defeating El Salvador in the quarterfinal match, the US broke new ground in its record books. Not only is the team on an all-time leading 9-game winning streak, but has also scored a record 16 goals in the tournament – the most by any USA side.

Though Honduras defeated Costa Rica to get to the semifinals, the team was outplayed and outmatched by the Ticos. Los Catrachos were pounded with opportunity after opportunity by Costa Rica, and very rarely looked like true victory.

The Americans, on the other hand, have coasted through the Gold Cup and are favorable to reach the final. Dominating wins have come in bunches for the United States, as the team has outscored its opponents 16-3 in the Gold Cup thus far. Its lowest result was a 1-0 win over Costa Rica. The US has scored at least 4 goals in each of the other matches.

Part of that has been because of Chris Wondolowski, who leads the Gold Cup in scoring with the 5 goals he earned in the opening pair of games. While he hasn’t scored since the 4-1 win over Cuba, he earned an assist on Saturday against El Salvador and has been continually involved in the offense.

But the offense has been truly led by Donovan, who has shown just how much better the United States is when he dons the red and white stripes. He’s been pushing through defenders and making captivating plays continuously, and it doesn’t seem like much is going to stop him. Despite how slow and soft the USA played against Cuba in the group phase and El Salvador in the quarterfinals, Donovan was always scorching through and setting himself apart from the pack.

And although the goals are coming in droves and the team shows little sign of slowing down in that regard, the US hasn't capitalized on all of its chances. Wondolowski has lost his scoring touch from earlier in the month and the USMNT has had to rely on a mixed bag of players to score. Wondo finding his touch again would greatly benefit the United States as it looks to wrap up the tournament in the trophy.

Though Team USA has been dominating in its games, there’s been a few scratches on the armor. The backline has made some mistakes during the Gold Cup, including DaMarcus Beasley’s blunder against La Selecta in Baltimore, which led to a penalty kick goal for El Salvador. If Beasley, along with fellow defenders Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Clarence Goodson, is going to be a national team starter in the back for the forseeable future, he’ll need to work on these mistakes and keep poised in the back.

The great difference, though, between the Americans and the rest of the teams remaining in the tournament – Mexico, Panama and Honduras – is that the USA has never been counted out completely. The Americans have been cruising through with few denying their ability to capture the Gold Cup gold.

Assurance is coming from both those inside and outside of the team, and that’s surely something sweet for the USA to taste.

NEXT UP: July 24 – Gold Cup: United States vs. Honduras, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas. 7 p.m. EST, FOX Soccer, UniMas, Univsion Deportes.

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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