Landon Donovan is turning the 2013 Gold Cup into his own personal highlight reel, adding two goals and an assist in the United States 3-1 victory over Honduras in the semifinals. It is the USA's 10th straight international victory and 5th straight Gold Cup final. But they might be without head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who was sent off in the dying minutes for dissent.
With the win, the USA advances to their 9th Gold Cup final at, where they are 4-4 all time, 1-4 against Mexico. Honduras was eliminated in the semifinals for the fourth time in the last five tournaments dating back to 2005.
After a slow start to the game, it was the US who struck first, Eddie Johnson using a dummy run to open up space for himself and Donovan sending a simple ball through and Johnson finished top shelf over Honduras keeper Donis Escober.
Then it was Donovan returning to the scoresheet, Alejandro Bedoya flicking a bouncing ball to an unmarked Donovan in the box, who chested down and finished from 10 yards.
Down 2-0 at the half, Honduras made two changes at the half, bringing on attackers Marvin Chavez and Jerry Palacios. It seemed to have no effect initially, but then Honduras drew foul on DaMarcus Beasley deep in their attacking third in the 52nd minute. The ensuing set piece would find the back of the net as Marvin Chavez's cross would find Nery Media, whose powerful header would beat Nick Rimando to his left.
Again the US defense was having trouble with set pieces, but like their first game of the tournament vs. Belize, the US would respond, immediately.
Again it was Landon Donovan, this time in the 53rd minute following another pass from Bedoya. Clarence Goodson would send a long ball over the top and Bedoya again would find fight through traffic to set up Donovan, who had the simplest of finishes from point blank range to restore the USA's lead and wrapping up the scoring. For Donovan, it was his 4th and 5th goals of the tournament and 17th and 18th all-time, extending his CONCACAF Gold Cup record.
But the storyline for the next few days will be the dismissal of Klinsmann, who was very animated late in the game after two Honduran players challenged DaMarcus Beasley on the sideline. In a game that was very even in fouls, 17 for Honduras and 16 for the USA, the only caution was shown in stoppage time to Eddie Johnson for encroachment on a free kick. Klinsmann and the US, who had a penalty shout in the first half when Stuart Holden took an elbow to the face, this had been boiling for most of the second half, and Quesada produced no cards, not even on a fairly obvious tactical foul by Honduras in the second half.
An 11-man CONCACAF disciplinary committee will decide in the next two days whether or not Klinsmann will serve a one-match suspension for the final after seeing Quesada's referee match report.
In the nightcap, Panama continued their shock run in the 2013 Gold Cup, knocking off Mexico for the second time this tournament. Panama held off Mexico 2-1 thanks to some timely second saves by goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, including touching a chipped shot over his crossbar in the 79th.
Just like in their first match up to open Group A, it was Panama who opened the scoring, with Blas Perez slotting home in the 13th minute, his 3rd goal of the tournament and 9th of his career, tying three other players including former USMNT player Eric Wynalda.
But Mexico would respond, Luis Montes heading home the equalizer in the 26th. But that was all the offense Mexico would muster, as they were only able to put 5-of-23 shots on target, mostly from the top of the box and long range, and weren't able to beat Penedo again.
Panama, who clearly looked the better side for most of the match, despite only having 41% of the possession. Off a corner kick in the 61st, Gabriel Torres, who is tied for the lead with 5 goals in the 2013 Gold Cup, whipped in a corner and found Panamanian captain Roman Torres, who lost his marker and headed in low to the far post, setting off wild celebrations from the Panama bench.
But Panama would have to wait another half hour to fully celebrate, leaning on the man of the match candidate, Penedo, who made four saves in the game, including two stellar saves in the closing minutes to keep the scoreline level. Aside from the fingertip save on a chip shot in the 79th, Penedo also parried wide a shot from Mexico's Jorge Enriquez in the 70th following a loose ball scramble in the area.
At the final whistle, that celebration from Panama finally happened, a just reward for their performance through this Gold Cup, clearly the best and most consistent team aside from the United States in the tournament. Panama will advance to their second ever final, their other appearance in 2005, where they lost on penalties to the USA after a 0-0 draw.
The 2013 Gold Cup Final will take place Sunday at 4PM, July 28th at Soldier Field in Chicago on FOX.