USA vs. Honduras: Americans Who Must Carry Strong Form into Gold Cup Semifinal

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2013

Jul 21, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; United States forward Landon Donovan (10) looks on prior to the game against El Salvador at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The United States men's national soccer team is one game away from the 2013 Gold Cup final. Standing in their way will be a very game Honduras side.

The Americans will be keen to put the past two tournaments behind them, as they were thoroughly outclassed by rivals Mexico in both the 2009 and 2011 finals.

After the 5-1 win over El Salvador in the quarterfinals, it's hard to look past the U.S. as the favorite for the tournament. Jurgen Klinsmann is making all the right moves, and he's getting strong performances from his key players.

In order to advance to Soldier Field, the United States will need to get past Honduras. In order for that to happen, Klinsmann will need these four players to continue giving the U.S. quality minutes.


Nick Rimando

What a luxury it is to be able to call upon Nick Rimando as your third-string goalkeeper. The United States have always produced talented goalkeepers, and Rimando illustrates just how deep the talent pool goes.

The 34-year-old was one of the best performers against El Salvador. Every time the U.S. needed a key save, Rimando was there. His double save in the 26th minute was a thing of beauty.

This has been a great showcase for the veteran shot-stopper. Fans of MLS already knew how good Rimando was after watching him with Real Salt Lake, but the Gold Cup has given Rimando an opportunity with the national team he hasn't received before. He's received some extra attention, and now a wider array of soccer fans are aware of just how talented Rimando is.

Even without Carlo Costly and Jerry Bengtson up top, Honduras have more than enough to create multiple solid chances on goal. It's going to be up to Rimando to repeat his El Salvador performance.


Landon Donovan

What more can you say about Landon Donovan at this point?

He's come back from his self-imposed exile and looked just as good as when he left. Donovan was setting his teammates up against El Salvador and nabbed a well-deserved goal in the 78th minute.

Donovan is clearly driven to earn his place in the national team again. As a key player for so long, the 31-year-old could have blown off the Gold Cup and sat out until the World Cup qualifiers.

Instead, Donovan has come out and played magnificently. When he's at his best, there isn't another American player who can do the things Donovan can on the pitch. He brings a different dimension to the U.S. attack.


Matt Besler

Matt Besler's importance to the United States' defense was on display against El Salvador. DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Parkhurst were getting burned a bit out wide and, while he scored a goal, Clarence Goodson often left the back line exposed and put in an altogether marginal performance. It was Besler who was holding things together.

He's proven to be a wise call-up for Klinsmann; the 26-year-old centre-back has quickly become the United States' best defender.

Besler is a very smart defender. Rarely will he get caught too far out of position and he holds the line well.

Expect to see another disjointed defensive performance at times for the United States. But Besler will be there to snuff out the Honduran attacks before they get too dangerous.


Joe Corona

Joe Corona scored what was arguably the prettiest goal against El Salvador. He received a Chris Wondolowski pass at the top of the box, got one defender on the ground and calmly slotted the ball away.

With Klinsmann selecting what is largely a "B" side, the Gold Cup was always going to be a great proving ground for guys trying to make their case for the national team. Nobody has been able to raise their profile more than Corona.

Slowly but surely he has been improving in the Gold Cup, and his performance against El Salvador exhibits that improvement.

Corona has been a threat out wide and played well when cutting inside, too. Between Corona and Jose Torres, the United States should get a lot of help for Mix Diskerud when he tries to help link up the attack.