Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
It didn’t start off in the prettiest of fashions for the U.S. Men’s National Team, but a slow start was soon replaced by an outstanding second half in what wound up being a rout and a great showcase for several players.
Landon Donovan, the all-time leading scorer in USMNT history marked his return to the national team with a pair of second-half goals to help lead the U.S. to a 6-0 thrashing of Guatemala at Qualcomm Stadium on Friday night.
Donovan drew and converted a 55th-minute penalty to become the first American male to score 50 international goals, then capped an encouraging return to the national team by delivering a quality finish of a perfect Stuart Holden cross for a 73rd-minute finish.
The match marked several firsts for the U.S., with Chris Wondolowski and Alejandro Bedoya both scoring their first international goals.
Donovan goals will grab headlines, but the outstanding play of midfielders Stuart Holden and Mix Diskerud in the second half of the match truly stole the show. After a disjointed first half for starters Kyle Beckerman and Jose Torres, Holden and Diskerud replaced them at halftime and helped take control of the match.
Holden was particularly effective, turning in a Man of the Match-worthy performance in steering the attack with several dangerous passes to lead attacking surges through Guatemala’s defense.
The match started in forgettable fashion for the U.S., with Guatemala applying heavy pressure high up the field, and unsettling the midfield and American defense, but as Guatemala began to tire, the U.S. took control, opening the scoring in the 42nd minute when Herculez Gomez latched onto a long pass from Jose Torres.
Klinsmann inserted Holden and Diskerud for Kyle Beckerman and Torres at halftime and the duo helped kick the U.S. attack into another gear. Donovan also stepped up his game, and benefited from the increased dominance of the U.S. midfield.
Donovan made it 2-0 when he drew a penalty in the 55th minute and converted his chance right down the middle for his 50th career goal. Wondolowski made it 3-0 when Donovan drove into the attack and laid off a pass that was re-directed to the San Jose Earthquakes striker, who finished it off.
Donovan notched his second just two minutes later when he finished off a perfect Holden cross to make the score 4-0.
Clarence Goodson made it 5-0 with his fourth career USMNT goal by following up his own chance with a powerful shot from close range in the 84th minute. Bedoya made it 6-0 by racing onto a pass from Brek Shea, who was also outstanding for the U.S. as a late sub.
The Americans will hope to build off their dominating performance when they kick off the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday vs. Belize in Portland.
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