ARLINGTON, Texas – The US national team is headed to Chicago for their fifth straight Gold Cup final after cruising past Honduras 3-1 at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday night. The question now is whether Mexico will be joining them.
Eddie Johnson opened the scoring for a rampant US side, which has now won 10 straight matches, and Landon Donovan added two more to his Gold Cup tally to pass Carlos Ruiz for third all-time in total international goals among CONCACAF goalscorers (56) and tie for the tournament lead.
Honduras’ Nery Medina made the game 2-1 early in the second half with a header via a corner kick, only for Donovan to answer back a minute later.
Despite calling in Omar Gonzalez for the match, US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann stuck with Clarence Goodson alongside Matt Besler in central defense. He made three other changes to the team that outclassed El Salvador in the quarterfinal, replacing Mix Diskerud with Stuart Holden and swapping Joe Corona and Chris Wondolowski for Alejandro Bedoya and Johnson.
Honduras manager Luis Fernando Suárez made two changes to the team that snuck past Costa Rica in Baltimore, with San Jose’s Marvin Chávez replaced by Diego Reyes on the wing and striker Roger Rojas starting instead of Rony Martínez.
And although it took both sides about five minutes to find their feet, it quickly became clear that this would be the US’ game.
Not long after Holden hit the US' first shot, Goodson bypassed the midfield and found the feet of Donovan, who played the ball first time to Johnson, running in behind. The pass found its mark in stride, and Johnson tucked his shot over the left shoulder of Honduras goalkeepr Donis Escober.
Stuck on the back foot, Honduras were fortunate to hold off the US for 16 more minutes before allowing the second, with Holden seeing a penalty shout waved off despite receiving an elbow to the face.
The second did come when Donovan the US’ offensive leader, moved his tournament haul to four after some lackadaisical defending following Johnson’s flick from a Nick Rimando punt. Bedoya beat Juan García to the ball, nicking it to a wide-open Donovan, who chested the pass down and poked it past Mendoza.
The goal was Donovan’s 17th in all Gold Cups, five clear of the next highest-scoring player from any country, and his 18th would come in the second half, but not before Medina drew Honduras within one.
After coming on as a substitute at halftime along with, Chávez whipped in a corner kick in the 52nd minute that found Medina’s head after he eluded Bedoya in the area. The right back’s contact was pure, and Rimando had no chance to keep the ball out of the back of the net.
But just as Honduras finished celebrating, Donovan struck back within a minute. Once again, Goodson bypassed the midfield, this time floating a ball down the right channel that Bedoya squared across the six-yard box to Donovan for a tap-in finish and a 3-1 lead.
That seemed to suck a bit of the urgency out of the game on the US side, and Klinsmann finally went to his bench in the 70th minute, sending Brek Shea and Diskerud on for Jose Torres and Kyle Beckerman. He pulled Donovan two minutes later, introducing Wondolowski to the match to partner Johnson.
Despite the fresh legs and a few more scattered opportunities, no more goals were forthcoming. However, there was one more flashpoint in the 87th minute as referee Walter Quesada sent Klinsmann from the bench following an animated reaction to a foul on DaMarcus Beasley.
The US will face the winner of Wednesday's nightcap between Mexico and Panama on Sunday at Soldier Field (1 pm PT, Fox, UniMas, Univision Deportes, Live chat on MLSsoccer.com).