BALTIMORE, July 21, 2013 — There was plenty to please U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann after the Americans routed El Salvador 5-1 at before 71,000 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., and advanced to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
* Landon Donovan
The attacking midfielder/striker made a solid case that he should be back on the U.S. ‘A team’ for the remaining World Cup qualifiers coming later in the year.
America’s greatest goal scorer was involved in all 5 of the U.S. goals, scoring one and helping to set up the rest. Donovan has now scored a record 54 goals and 55 assist in his international career and is the only player to score in six Gold Cup tournaments.
Due to his self-imposed hiatus from the game, Donovan missed the U.S. team’s first three World Cup qualifiers this year and was not called back by Klinsmann for qualifiers in June.
The Los Angeles Galaxy star and five-time MLS Cup winner, clearly looks back on top form mentally and physically.
In five games back for the team, Donovan has scored five goals, notched seven assists and has helped the team set a nine-game record winning streak.
Still, when asked if Donovan would be back on the team for the World Cup qualifiers, Klinsmann kept his cards close to his chest saying, “For us, we take it one game at a time.”
He did add however, “I think Landon again proved today how valuable he is and how he can make a difference.”
Due to a CONCACAF rule which allows a team to add and replace up to four players in the knockout round, Klinsmann called in Seattle striker Eddie Johnson for the game at Baltimore. It only took 14 seconds for Johnson to prove it was a smart call by the coach whose shrewd substitutions in the Gold Cup just keep paying off. On the hour-mark, Johnson replaced Chris Wondolowski as the U.S. waited to convert a corner kick. Fourteen seconds later, with his first touch of the ball, Johnson headed home a cross from Donovan to make it 3-1. It was his 16 goal for the team and second this year.
The talented midfielder, who could have played for three national teams - Mexico, El Salvador and the United States - scored his second goal in the Gold Cup on an excellent combination play involving Donovan and Wondolowski, to make it 2-0. His recent performances have certainly bolstered his case for being on that plane flying to Brazil next year for the World Cup.
The Norwegian-born midfielder played his third 90-minute game in the Gold Cup and scored his debut goal for the team. Klinsmann seems to like the busy midfielder who works hard but needs to patch up his technical skills.
* Michael Parkhurst
The right-sided defender did a lot of good work in the early going of the game, producing a number of good runs and crosses from the flank. Parkhurst bolstered his chances of seeing a lot more starting minutes with the team.
John Haydon wrote a weekly soccer column for The Washington Times for 20 years. He has covered two World Cups and written about Major League Soccer from the league’s inception in 1996.
Follow John on Twitter at @Johnahaydon or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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