Donovan leads U.S. into fifth straight Gold Cup final

USA, the four-time Gold Cup champion, will face Panama in the finals on Sunday @ Soldier Field in Chicago.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Landon Donovan scored two goals and set up a third, leading the United States into the CONCACAF Gold Cup final for the fifth consecutive time, recording a 3-1 victory over Honduras on Wednesday.

The four-time Gold Cup champion U.S., which will participate in its ninth Gold Cup championship game, will play the winner of the second game of the doubleheader between Mexico and Panama at Soldier Field in Chicago Sunday.

The three goals scored by the Americans were the most they have scored in a Gold Cup semifinal. It also was the third time the U.S. defeated Honduras in the semifinals, having won in 2005 and 2009.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was dismissed from the bench by referee Walter Quesada after spiking the ball to the ground forcibly to protest a foul by a Honduran player on captain DaMarcus Beasley with three minutes left in regulation time.

Eddie Johnson lifted the Americans into a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute at Cowboys Stadium. The scoring sequence began when central defender Clarence Goodson fed Donovan in the midfield. Donovan then slotted a ball to the charging Johnson, who broke into the penalty area and fired a right-footed shot from six yards past goalkeeper Donis Escober.

The goal was Johnson’s third career Gold Cup goal and second of the tournament. He netted only 14 seconds after coming on as a substitute in a 5-1 win over El Salvador in Baltimore on Sunday.

Donovan, the only U.S. player to have played every minute entering the match, got on the scoresheet in the 27th minute. This time, Alejandro Bedoya fed Donovan, who tapped the ball past Escober from eight yards for a two-goal advantage. It was Donovan’s record 17th career Gold Cup goal. He also has found the back of the net in five of his past six Gold Cup matches.

Diego Reyes had the Hondurans’ lone shot on net in the opening half, smashing a 25-yard effort that was caught by goalkeeper Nick Rimando in the 29th minute.

U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden enjoyed an active first half.  He launched a long-distance effort that sailed wide right in the seventh minute and fired an 18-yard shot over the crossbar in the 18th minute.

The Americans pushed for a third goal in the second half. Bedoya’s close-range shot on the right side was knocked away by Escober’s left hand and Johnson headed wide left, both in the 50th minute.

The Hondurans cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 52nd minute. Marvin Chavez sliced in a free kick for Nery Medina to head past Rimando into the right corner. Nine players have scored the last nine Honduran goals in the Gold Cup.

Seconds later, the U.S. restored its two-goal bulge with Donovan’s second goal of the match. Goodson again started the sequence with a long ball from the back to Bedoya on the right side of the penalty area. The 26-year-old midfielder crossed the ball to an open Donovan, who had an easy tap-in from close range for a 3-1 American advantage. Donovan’s fifth goal of the competition tied him for the scoring lead with teammate Chris Wondolowski and Panama’s Gabriel Torres.

Donovan finally got an opportunity to rest when he was replaced by Wondolowski in the 72nd minute.

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