ARLINGTON, Texas — The United States advanced to the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 3-1 win over Honduras on Wednesday, with Landon Donovan scoring two goals and setting up another.
Sunday’s final will pit the U.S. against Panama, which beat Mexico 2-1 to prevent the expected U.S.-Mexico final.
The Americans struck first when Donovan found Eddie Johnson running through the middle. He dribbled the ball then powered a shot past the goalkeeper to put the hosts ahead in the 11th minute.
In the 27th minute, Donovan controlled a short chip off his chest and poked a shot past the keeper.
Nery Medina headed in a cross to pull a goal back for Honduras in the 52nd minute, but Donovan restored the two-goal lead a minute later.
In the later game, Roman Torres’ glancing header from a Gabriel Torres corner proved the winner as Panama upset Mexico.
Panama then resisted prolonged Mexico pressure which yielded four good scoring opportunities over the next 30 minutes but no goals.
Blas Perez struck first, giving Panama a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute when he blasted a shot to the near post.
In the 26th minute, Mexico’s Marco Fabian got around a defender deep in the box and then lofted a cross to the far post where Luis Montes’ diving header sent the ball into the far upper corner for the equalizer.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Donvan’s match-winning performance was “wonderful to watch” as the veteran plays himself back to the center of national team calculations after an international hiatus.
“I have told him in our conversations that ‘I measure you. Your benchmark is the best Landon Donovan ever,’” Klinsmann said. “I’m not taking anything less than that. And he is trying to catch up with that. Give him more games. Give him time.”
Entering the game, he was the only U.S. player to play every minute of the tournament. He finally was subbed out in the 72nd minute, having earned a rest.
“It’s the most relaxed I’ve felt,” Donovan said. “I feel good, and I’m really enjoying it.”
Klinsmann may get a sideline ban for the final after being ejected in the 87th minute for slamming a ball into the ground. A CONCACAF official said the referee would file a report with CONCACAF’s disciplinary committee, which will announce a decision in the next day or two.
“It was a reaction out of frustration,” he said. “It was not meant against the referee, against anybody. It was just frustration. I apologize for that.”
Mexico was seeking a fourth straight Gold Cup final against the U.S., and a third straight Central America title but lost to Panama for just the second time in 15 games.
“It’s frustrating. We fell short of one of our objectives,” Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre said. “We wanted to be in the final.”