After narrowly winning in Baltimore, Honduras earned the chance to take on the U.S. Men’s National Team in the Gold Cup semi-final. This will likely be the most difficult game for the U.S. so far in this tournament, but the Americans have what it takes to make it to the final.
For most of their quarter-final match against El Salvador, the U.S. had control. There were periods, however, where they lacked some imagination going forward. These periods were only brief and the team saw off an El Salvador side that was lucky to not have been beaten by more than four goals. Filled with confidence, the U.S. must maintain their attacking mindset against an Honduras team that is much better defensively than most of the teams that the Americans have faced.
It seems as if this U.S. squad is shedding old bad habits and adopting a new, more free-flowing approach to attacking. The days of long balls being played to the forwards are over and the midfield maestros now reign supreme. The American attacks aren’t coming from moments of individual brilliance, but rather a full-team effort that includes every player on the field. Fullbacks coming forward add another dimension to the attack, and the Americans have been utilizing this all tournament. To see this from the “B-squad” is a real treat, and I fully expect to see this type of attack against Honduras.
Both teams will be familiar with one another as they have split wins in World Cup Qualifying. The U.S. will have the clear advantage of playing at home, which is crucial against a team like Honduras whose home stadium is quite intimidating. There could be some rotations on defense, but I expect a similar team from the quarter-final to be fielded tonight in Arlington.
This will be a good test for some of the younger players on the team, but I fully expect for the U.S. to get a strong result. A win by two or more goals is not out of the question by any means, in fact, with the way the offense is playing, I almost expect it. With the hype around the team right now, anything short of winning the Gold Cup would be seen as a failure. I have the utmost confidence in the team and coach Jürgen Klinsmann’s ability to make the right changes.
Look for a solid team performance against Honduras and hopefully a trip into the finals. Following the lead of Landon Donovan, this team should dispatch with the opponents in convincing fashion and roll to the final.