U.S. men’s national team captain DaMarcus Beasley said he couldn’t look down from the giant screen at Cowboys Stadium when he first entered the field yesterday for practice.
“The stadium is beautiful. The stadium is unbelievable,” he said.
The same could be said for Team USA’s performance on the pitch, especially that of Landon Donovan, whose two goals and one assist led the U.S. to a 3-1 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals win over Honduras on Wednesday.
“I think it’s the most relaxed I’ve ever felt and the most enjoyable it’s felt in a long time,” Donovan said.
The Americans will face Panama, which defeated Mexico 2-1 in Wednesday’s nightcap, on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The U.S. opened the game’s scoring in the 11th minute, when a quick back-heel flick by Donovan sprung Eddie Johnson on a break-away he buried past Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escober.
More offensive pressure by the U.S. followed, leading to Donovan’s first score of the game in the 27th minute. Alejandro Bedoya volleyed a pass into the box from the right side that was chested down by Donovan and punched into the bottom right corner of the net.
Honduras finally found some traction, scoring off a set piece from just outside the U.S. box in the 52nd minute. Honduran halftime sub Marvin Chavez served a cross into the middle of the box, right onto the head of Nery Media and into the back of the net.
Donovan and the American side didn’t lose any momentum off the Honduran goal, scoring its third goal on Donovan’s second of the game just a minute later.
The U.S.’s top scorer flicked a cross from Bedoya into the goal off his left foot for the final score of the game.
“I think we all are very, very pleased with the way he’s playing,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “He’s proven a point that he’s hungry to come back into our picture and going forward with us to the World Cup qualifier.”
Klinsmann, however, might not be on his team’s sideline for Sunday’s Gold Cup final after being sent off the field with three minutes left in the game.
Donovan said things began to ramp up physically after the third U.S. goal, with Honduran players initiating extra contact after passes and shots had been made.
Beasley fell victim to one such physical play and Klinsmann took exception, spiking the ball back into the field of play and giving the referee a few choice words.
“It was a reaction out of frustration because the fouls had added up throughout the last half an hour,” he said. “One really, really bad one right before our third goal and then the foul on Beasley with two guys going into him from behind and I kind of over-boiled it. I shouldn’t have thrown the ball on the ground.
“I apologize for that reaction. That was not meant against the referee or anyone, it was frustration because you felt for the health of your player in that moment.”
Players who are issued red cards in Gold Cup matches are given automatic suspensions, but coaches are not technically carded, therefore CONCACAF officials said after the game that the incident will be reviewed and Klinsmann’s status for the final will be decided within the next 48 hours.
Beasley said he was happy for the support his coach gave him at that moment in the game.
“He sticks up for us and he sticks up for his players and I don’t have any complaint about that,” he said. “Hopefully CONCACAF doesn’t see it as too malicious.”