Johnson sparks USA win over Honduras in Gold Cup semifinals

Johnson sparks USA win over Honduras in Gold Cup semifinals

The Sounders forward got the match's first goal, just 11 minutes in.

On Sunday, Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson needed just 15 seconds to score in a 5-1 quarterfinal win over El Salvador in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, netting a goal on his first touch after subbing into the match in the 60th minute.

By comparison, his 11th minute goal on Wednesday was downright leisurely. However, his 17th career international goal got the U.S. National Team off to the fast start they needed against a Honduras squad that came in with a decidedly defensive posture.

The LA Galaxy’s Landon Donvoan scored two goals to continue his torrid pace during the Gold Cup, leading the U.S. to a 3-1 win over Honduras to reach their fifth straight Gold Cup final on Sunday at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Johnson is relishing the chance to show his mettle with the U.S. again. He has played a crucial role in World Cup qualifying and was a late call-up for the Gold Cup, joining the team in the quarterfinal round.

This after he was left out of the national team picture for two years while trying to find his way in Europe. After he returned to MLS with Sounders FC last year, he earned his way back into the good graces of the U.S. squad under Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Johnson has never hesitated to credit Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid nor his Seattle teammates for helping him back to that level.

“I started in Seattle last year and Sigi gave me a second chance to play the sport that I love. My teammates are really pushing me in Seattle and getting a chance to come in and play with the national team is something that you don’t want to take for granted,” he said in a post-match interview on Fox Soccer’s television broadcast. “I know what it’s like to play at this level and whenever you’re given a second chance you want to take advantage of it. I’m just working hard and enjoying playing at this level.”

After a standout performance in his 30 minutes against El Salvador, Johnson moved into the starting lineup against Honduras for the semifinal, starting as the lone forward in an attack centered around the play of Donovan, who has three goals and four assists in the last two matches.

On Johnson’s 11th minute goal, his second in as many matches since being called back into the Gold Cup squad by Klinsmann, Clarence Goodson threaded a pass through the center of midfield. Johnson dummied the ball through to Donovan, then charged behind the Honduras defense as Donovan led him on the run. He carried the ball to the top of the box, then blistered a shot past the goalkeeper for the 1-0 lead.

Johnson also was part of the buildup for the second goal, a 27th minute score by Donovan. Johnson headed a ball up the right side of the box where Alejandro Bedoya cut it across to Donovan, who brought the ball down with his chest and flicked a shot into the net with his right foot.

Donovan’s second goal would come in the 53rd minute, just after Honduras scored a set-piece goal to cut the U.S. lead in half at 2-1. Bedoya again assisted on Donovan’s second goal and the Americans held off a physical Honduras side for the remainder of the match.

The U.S. will meet Panama in the final after they were 2-1 winners over Mexico in the other semifinal. The Gold Cup final will be played on Sunday at 1 pm PT, with television coverage on FOX and Univision.

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