2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinals
United States vs Honduras
Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Soccer, Univision
Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, Texas
All Odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Betting Line: USA -1 1/2 -115 / Honduras +1 1/2 -115
Total: over 2 1/2 -140 / under 2 1/2 +110
Three Way Line: Honduras +750 / USA -325 / Draw +385
(All three wagers include regulation and stoppage time only, not extra time or shootout)
The United States men’s soccer team looks to advance to the finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the fifth straight time and also extend the club record of 9 straight wins. The United States hasn’t lost since a friendly against Belgium in late May. During the winning streak, the US is outscoring teams 31-7 including 27-4 in the last 8. However, it won’t be easy as USA will take on a tough gritty Honduras team. The winner will face either Panama or Mexico in Sunday’s Championship game in Chicago.
The United States won Group C with a perfect 3-0 record. USA is the only unbeaten and untied team left in the tournament. The Stars and Stripes have wins over Belize 6-1, Cuba 4-1, and 1-0 against Costa Rica on a goal from Brek Shea at the 81st minute.
In the quarterfinals, the USA would go on to crush El Salvador Sunday afternoon in Baltimore 5-1. Because of the large population of Salvadorans in the Baltimore-Washington area, it was almost like a road game for team USA. The United States took an early 2-0 lead but a questionable foul was called against US captain DeMarcus Beasley was called in the box giving El Salvador a late penalty kick to make it 2-1 at halftime. The US would dominate in the second half scoring three goals. Landon Donovan scored or assisted on all 5 US goals.
Honduras won group B with 6 points. Los Catrachos had wins over Haiti 2-0 and El Salvador 1-0. Honduras had already clinched a berth in the quarters, so they rested their starters against Trinidad & Tobago, a match they lost 2-0.
In the quarterfinals, Honduras would take on Csota Rica. The Costa Ricans were looking for revenge because Honduras had knocked them out of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup with a late goal in stoppage time. In the quarterfinal rematch in Baltimore Sunday, Honduras would get a goal from midfielder Andy Najar at the 40th minute, and hold on for the narrow 1-0 win. Costa Rica had more shots 9-7 and corners 6-3. Still both teams seemed content to play the majority of the game in the middle of the pitch.
The United States leads the series against Honduras 12-1-3. The US lost their only competitive game in 2013 in Honduras 2-1 February 6 in the first game of the final CONCACAF group for 2014 World Cup qualifying. The US would take a 1-0 win in Salt lake City last month in the second home-and-home game against Honduras.
US coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad is battling some injuries to key players. Defender Oguchi Onyewu (ankle) and attacker Herculez Gomez (knee) were both left off the roster for the Knockout round. Forward Jack McInerney and defender Corey Ashe were also left off the roster. Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Eddie Johnson, and Alan Gordon replaced them. Johnson scored a goal on a beautiful header just seconds after coming in to replace Chris Wondolowski in the second half of the El Salvador rout.
However, Klinsmann’s 3-4-2 attack still has a ton of firepower. Striker Wondolowski has 5 goals in the tournament including a hat trick in the Belize game. The great Landon Donovan has 54 goals and 55 assists in his career for the national team. He has 4 goals in the Gold Cup. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando allowed one goal in each of the blowout wins over Belize and Cuba. He rested in the Costa Rica game as the United States had already advanced to the knockout round. Sean Johnson kept a clean sheet in that game, but Rimando started the El Salvador game. He will also start against Honduras.
Honduras is coached by Luis Fernando Suarez. He used a 4-1-4-1 attack against Costa Rica, and will likely employ a similar strategy against the United States. Attackers Marvin Chavez, Mario Martinez, and the young Najar provide most of the scoring. Goalkeeper Donis Escobar hasn’t allowed a goal in the three games he started in the tournament so far. He sat out the loss to Trinidad & Tobago.
As usually is the case when you put natural grass over artificial turf, the field at Cowboys Stadium should be bumpy with several gashes. It would be better to play on the artificial turf, but FIFA rules say all matches must be played on Natural grass.
Honduras will look to go into a bunker and prevent the quick US team from advancing. Even though Cuba, Belize, and El Salvador all tried to do that as well, the three teams were beaten by a combined 15-3 by the United States. Still Honduras is a much better team then those three and this should be another close game either 1-0 or 2-1. There will eb a lot of Honduran fans in Arlington, but it won’t be nearly as hostile as it was in Baltimore against El Salvador. The US takes a close win to advance to the final.
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