Friday, March 7, 2014
The Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas - By even the very high standards of Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Landon Donovan is regaining top form after taking a break from the national team.
Donovan scored two goals and set up another Wednesday night, helping the United States beat Honduras 3-1 to advance to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
Klinsmann said Donovan was "wonderful to watch."
"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."
While Klinsmann declined to confirm that Donovan will be rejoining the World Cup qualifying team later this year, the top goal scorer in U.S. history is leaving little doubt that he belongs.
Donovan has five goals in the tournament, tying him with teammate Chris Wondolowski for most in the Gold Cup. Donovan has set up seven goals, four in the last two games.
Entering the game, he was the only U.S. player to play every minute of the Cup. He finally was taken out in the 72nd minute.
"It's the most relaxed I've felt," Donovan said. "I feel good and I'm really enjoying it."
The Americans, who have won a team-record 10 straight games, will play Panama or Mexico on Sunday in Chicago.
The U.S. struck first when Donovan found Eddie Johnson running through the middle of the Honduran defense. Johnson took a dribble and powered a shot past goalkeeper Donis Escober in the 11th minute.
In the 27th minute, Johnson started another scoring sequence with a pass to Alejandro Bedoya. Donovan received Bedoya's short chip and poked a shot past Escober.
"The first 30 minutes was brilliant football. Brilliant, high pressure, high tempo," Klinsmann said. "We wanted to move the football around and create chances, and we did."
"The U.S. beat us in every aspect," Honduras Coach Luis Fernando Suarez said.