U.S. Beats Honduras, Will Play Panama in Gold Cup Soccer Final

The U.S. defeated Honduras 3-1 to advance to the final of soccer’s Gold Cup, where it will meet Panama, a 2-1 victor over two-time defending champion Mexico.

Landon Donovan scored twice and Eddie Johnson also got a goal for the U.S. in its record-extending 10th straight win at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, last night. Blas Perez and Roman Torres scored for Panama at the same venue to prevent a fourth straight matchup between the U.S. and Mexico in the final, which is scheduled for July 28 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

“Some players go their whole career and never get a chance to play for a title, so we’ll make that very clear to everybody,” Donovan said in a televised interview. “There’s nothing better than holding that trophy.”

The U.S. won the last of its four Gold Cup titles in 2007, two years after it beat Panama in the Central American country’s only prior visit to the final. Mexico won the past two editions of the biennial tournament to take its tally to six, while Canada is the only other nation to claim the trophy, in 2000.

U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann may be suspended for the final after being ejected late in the game by the Costa Rican referee for protesting a challenge on one of his players.

The U.S. took the lead in the 11th minute. Donovan’s first-time pass released Johnson, whose right-foot shot flew past Honduras goalkeeper Donis Escobar and into the net.

Donovan made it 2-0 in the 27th minute as he controlled Alejandro Bedoya’s flick with his chest and prodded the ball past Escobar.

Nery Medina’s headed goal from a 52nd-minute free kick closed the gap before Donovan completed the scoring a minute later with a first-time volley from close range, taking his tally for the national team to a record-extending 56 goals.

Donovan’s Sabbatical

Donovan, 31, is working his way back into Klinsmann’s plans after ending a self-imposed four-month hiatus at the end of March, when he resumed training with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Panama, which beat Mexico 2-1 in the group phase, took the lead in the 12th minute last night as Perez beat keeper Jonathan Orozco at his near post with a shot from near the goal line.

Luis Montes tied it after 26 minutes with a headed goal and Roman Torres got the winning goal after 60 minutes, also with a header.

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