DaMarcus Beasley, Stuart Holden and Chris Wondolowski hungry for success

With Mexico and the United States leaving some of their biggest stars off the Gold Cup roster, there is some question as to how crucial winning the tournament really is to the big nations.

However, there is no doubt over how important the Gold Cup is for the individual players who were called up — the Cup has shown in the past that it can serve as a springboard for fringe players to make the following year’s World Cup rosters.

This year on the United States’ side, three names have come in focus particularly: Chris Wondolowski, Stuart Holden and DaMarcus Beasley. The “late bloomer,” the “comeback kid,” and “the captain,” respectively.

FOX Soccer took all three on a relaxing boat ride in Baltimore ahead of the USA’s quarterfinal win against El Salvador, and each spoke about their goals, each other’s talents, and what makes suiting up for the red, white and blue so special.


Gold Cup: Five things learned from USA’s victory over El Salvador

By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com

Baltimore, Maryland

Landon Donovan scored once and prompted three other goals to lead the United States to a 5-1 victory over El Salvador at a sold-out M&T Bank Stadium.

The final score reflects the Americans’ dominance on the day without telling the entire story. El Salvador reduced the deficit to 2-1 through a Rodolfo Zelaya penalty eight minutes before the interval and threatened to nick an equalizer early in the second half.

Eddie Johnson eventually removed most of the doubt by scoring seconds after his introduction. A pair of goals in the final quarter of an hour secured a semifinal date against Costa Rica or Honduras in Arlington, Tex. on Wednesday.

U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann will take plenty with him – including these five points – from this match ahead of the more difficult task ahead in midweek.

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Eddie Johnson: #DemolitionMan

The US men’s national soccer team put on an impressive show in a 5-1 win over El Salvador to secure a spot in the Gold Cup semifinals. Landon Donovan was the Man of the Match for his goal and three assists, but it was substitute Eddie Johnson who stole the show.

If you blinked, you might have missed it. It took Johnson a ridiculously fast 14 seconds after jogging onto the pitch to score on his very first touch of the game. His header off a perfectly executed short corner kick gave the US a 3-1 lead with 30 minutes to go.

The immediate impact led Gus Johnson to emphatically pronounce him the “Demolition Man!”

Not surprisingly, the twitterverse was abuzz following Gus’s call:

Even US Soccer’s account got in on it:

It’s safe to say that Johnson, whose goal was the quickest ever by a substitute in the history of the Gold Cup, now has a new nickname, courtesy of our own Johnson!


Gold Cup Recap: Mexico, Panama advance to semifinals

As expected, there were no upsets during Saturday’s CONCACAF’s Gold Cup action as Panama and Mexico both stamped their semifinals tickets.

El Tri, a six-time Gold Cup champion going for its third straight title, edged Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 behind Raul Jimenez’s 84th minute strike to help embattled manager Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre silence his critics for at least one night.

Though Mexico failed to produce a convincing win against the Caribbean nation, Mexican fans will undoubtedly take solace that their beloved national team will live to fight another day:

As for Julio Dely Valdes’ side, Los Canaleros didn’t need long to dispose a Cuban side who looked eager to continue their Gold Cup run after José Ciprian Alfonso opened matters with a beautiful first-touch volley in the 21st minute. Cuba’s lead, however, was short-lived as Panamanian forward Gabriel Torres increased his tournament tally to five goals after two quick strikes in the first half:

The wheels eventually came off for Cuba in the second half after Ariel Martinez was sent off justifiably by referee Mark Geiger for a ruthless challenge on Panama’s Blas Perez in the 58th minute:

Mexico will now face Panama in the Gold Cup semifinals on Wednesday at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. If you recall, Panama upset Mexico 2-1 in a group match and El Tri will surely seek revenge for their hiccup at the Rose Bowl earlier this month.


Gold Cup: Five things learned from USA’s 4-1 victory over Cuba

By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com


It took a bit longer than expected for the United States to hit its stride in their 4-1 victory against Cuba. The visitors even managed a stunning opening goal when Jose Ciprian completed a swashbuckling counter after 36 minutes. But the Americans equalized through Landon Donovan shortly before halftime to set the stage for a significant second-half improvement. Chris Wondolowski struck twice in the final half hour to ensure that the US will finish atop Group C with a victory (or a draw, most likely) over Costa Rica in East Hartford, Conn. on Tuesday.

 In the wake of a third straight heavy victory, here are a few points to ponder as the US approaches a decisive affair against the Ticos:

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Very superstitious: Wondolowski sews extra “W” under jersey, keeps scoring

Last time we checked in with Chris Wondolowski, he was busy scoring a hat trick while wearing a misspelled jersey. But after US super-fan Drew Carey ended up buying the shirt off Wondolowski with proceeds going to charity, the superstitious striker knew what to do next.

Rather than risking his run of form, Wondolowski made a special request regarding his kit before Saturday’s match vs. Cuba: ‘Wondo’ asked that an extra ‘W’ be sewed on the inside of his shirt.

Based on the brace that Wondo scored Saturday with the altered jersey, it seems likely he’ll be wearing that extra W for the rest of his career.

Here’s Chris after the match: