From the opening kickoff of the semifinal match in the 2013 Gold Cup against Honduras, the U.S. Men’s National Team was in complete control. The U.S. suffocated Honduras with large amounts of possession and scoring chances, winning comfortably and advancing to the final match of the Gold Cup.
Jurgen Klinsmann made three changes to the starting lineup used in their quarterfinal victory over El Salvador. Forward Chris Wondolowski and midfielders Joe Corona and Mikkel Diskerud were replaced by Eddie Johnson, Alejandro Bedoya and Stuart Holden. These were odd changes for Klinsmann to make after how well Wondolowski, Corona and Diskerud have played during the tournament. However, Klinsmann made the changes in order to keep his team fresh, and it paid off.
The Americans were exceptional at applying high pressure to Honduras, which forced turnovers, denied Honduras possession and created a multitude of scoring opportunities. This ultimately led to an early 2-0 lead for the U.S. During the rare moments that Honduras won possession, the U.S. worked hard collectively to win back possession and push the ball forward. At times, the Americans were able to create scoring chances by playing the ball over the top, as the Hondurans pushed up too far in the rare moments they had possession.
Despite getting sent off late in the game, in a most controversial way, Klinsmann pushed all the right buttons with the lineup he put on the field. That lineup executed Klinsmann’s plan to perfection, applying constant pressure on Honduras and staying in complete control of the game throughout 90 minutes.
Once again, Landon Donovan stole the show by being a central figure in all three U.S. goals, scoring two and assisting on the third. Donovan has been the best individual player on any team in the Gold Cup. Just like the U.S. team as a whole, Donovan has gotten better as the tournament has gone along.
With Donovan playing great and Klinsmann making all the right moves, the Americans are poised to take home the Gold Cup championship for the first time since 2007.
Bryan Zarpentine is a New York Mets writer at RantSports.com. He also writes frequently about the NFL, College Football, College Basketball, and International Soccer. Like him on Facebook, follow him on twitter @BZarp and add him to your network on Google+.