The United States will look to book their place in a fifth-straight Gold Cup final when they face Honduras at Cowboys Stadium on Wednesday. Jurgen Klinsmann’s side have progressed at a relative canter to the last four, scoring 16 goals and conceding three in their four matches en route. But the U.S. coach, understandably, expects a tough test against their latest opponents.
“Does Honduras have a chance? Absolutely," he said, according to the Concacaf website. "We start the game nil-nil. We know it's going to be a tough game. Every game in a knockout stage, there's no favorite team. It's a 50-50 situation and you've got to be alert and awake."
Klinsmann has taken a largely B-strength squad to the competition, although he has boosted his ranks following the group stage with the additions of Matt Besler, Eddie Johnson and Alan Gordon. Los Angeles Galaxy central defender Omar Gonzalez was also a late alteration and, after missing the 5-1 win over El Salvador, is expected to feature in Arlington, Texas. And, while the Gold Cup’s importance has been diminished as the U.S. looks to secure their place in next year’s World Cup, Klinsmann claimed that his squad is desperate to claim the silverware.
"We badly, badly want to win this competition," he explained. "They are pumped up. They want to do well. An opportunity like tomorrow night, that doesn't come along very often. It's a huge, fantastic stadium. We badly want this trophy."
Although the U.S. won the last time the sides met in World Cup qualifying just last month, Klinsmann knows all about what tricky opposition Honduras can be from the 2-1 victory they inflicted on his side to begin the Hexagonal earlier this year.
"Honduras is a very, very tough team because of the way they compete," Klinsmann said. "They're compact on the field both ways. They're moving forward in a 4-3-3. Defensively, they're in a 4-5-1 and they do that really well. They don't let you any space open, especially around the box.”
Honduras booked their place in the semifinals with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica after having topped a group involving Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador and Haiti. Luis Fernando Suarez has two players at his disposal that ply their trade in Major League Soccer, in midfielders Marvin Chavez and Mario Martinez from San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders, respectively. Andy Najar was at D.C. United before leaving for Belgian champions Anderlecht earlier this year.
D: Parkhurst, Besler, Gonzalez, Beasley
M: Corona, Beckerman, Diskerud, Torres
F: Donovan, Wondolowski
D: Beckeles, O. Chavez, Garcia, Medina,
M: M. Chavez, Najar, Lopez, Claros, Delgado
Prediction: This could well be the Yanks' toughest test of the competition so far. Certainly an early goal would make things a lot easier against a side that is likely to be difficult to break down. With Landon Donovan adding an extra slice of quality going forward and the burgeoning central-defensive partnership between Besler and Gonzalez set to be reunited, Klinsmann’s side should be able to secure a narrow victory.
USA 1-0 Honduras
Where to watch: The gold Cup semifinal will kick-off at 7 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, UniMas and Univision Deportes, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2 Go and Univision.com.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.