Landon Donovan's winter sabbatical from soccer and extended absence was the talk of USMNT since began their final round of World Cup qualifying in The Hex.
Perhaps he should take vacations more often. And perhaps the rest of CONCACAF should be on notice: The USA is here to win the Gold Cup.
Landon Donovan scored twice in the second half, becoming the first American male and fourth player in CONCACAF history to reach the half century mark with his 50th and 51st goals of his international career as the United States routed Guatemala in a friendly from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
The USA started very poorly in the first half, with sloppy passing and miscommunication plaguing the opening stages of the game. Eventually, the USA started to gather themselves towards the end of the half, generating several set piece opportunities. However, it would take until the 42nd minute before the USA opened the score line through Herculez Gomez, who fired home from close range after collecting a cross from Joe Corona.
With substitutes Stuart Holden and Mix Diskerud entering at the start of the second half, the USA continued to gain momentum from their strong finish to the first half. A 50th minute foul by Guatemalan defender Carlos Castrillo in the box on Landon Donovan led to his 50th career international goal, as he slotted the penalty down the middle past Ricardo Jerez. Substitute Chris Wondolowski collected a loose ball in the area in the 71st and fired home for the USA's third goal.
The goal of the match would come just a minute later, as Stuart Holden hit a perfect cross to Landon Donovan who volleyed home from 10 yards out. Clarence Goodson would collect his own rebound and roof the 5th goal in the 84th before Alejandro Bedoya closed out the spectacular half in the 88th by finishing a through ball from the right side.
The result was perhaps not unexpected against a young and rebuilding Guatemala side, however the slow start against this side was concerning. The biggest problem that the USA needs to fix is the communication from goalkeeper Nick Rimando and his backline, as the Real Salt Lake keeper came off his line several times only to cause mass confusion with his defenders and almost lead to giveaways and an easy goal. However, Rimando was rarely tested and the defense in generally didn't allow many chances.
The play and impact of the substitutes shouldn't be forgotten as Jurgen Klinsmann sorts out not only his Gold Cup roster, but perhaps his roster for the remaining World Cup qualifiers this fall. Stuart Holden and Mix Diskerud were an electric pairing the central midfield and Brek Shea, who will return to Stoke City and will not feature in the Gold Cup, continually created opportunities down the left flank.
Overall, this was the perfect result that Klinsmann and the United States could've hoped for. A lot of positives and good individual performances combined with enough negatives to focus on in training before their Gold Cup opener against Belize on Tuesday.