Printed on: July 24, 2013

U.S. preps for Gold Cup match against Honduras


ASSOCIATED PRESS

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jurgen Klinsmann wants to get a better picture of what his squad will look like for its likely trip to Brazil next year.

If the U.S. national team's current form continues through July, he will have some tougher decisions to make than previously anticipated.

As the Americans prepare to take on Honduras in the semifinals of the Gold Cup tonight at Cowboys Stadium, they bring with them a national-team record nine match winning streak and a bevy of second-teamers looking to impress.

"It's an opportunity for us to see players coming through the system, and you want to evaluate them and see them in every training session," said Klinsmann, who took over the team after a second-place finish in the 2011 version of the CONCACAF championship. "You want to see them every minute they are on the field in order to get a better picture of them towards the World Cup in 2014."

So far, those looking to catch Klinsmann's eye have done so.

The United States has won all four of its games in the biennial tournament, outscoring opponents 16-3. The only close game the U.S. has played in the tournament was a 1-0 victory against Costa Rica to close out group play in first place.

The majority of the regulars, such as Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, are not at the Gold Cup after a highly successful string of World Cup qualifiers. The U.S. sits atop the final leg of qualifying with four games left.

The U.S. is also coming off its most successful year in team history in 2012 with a 9-2-3 mark.

However, the replacements are doing their best to break into the first-team rotation.

"I think all of us know that we'll stand out individually if we do well as a team," said U.S. forward Chris Wondolowski, whose five goals lead all Gold Cup scorers. "And so I think we have that, first and foremost, and I think that's going to be the key and we've all bought in on that."

While players like the 30-year-old Wondolowski, who has scored all six of his international career goals this month, are trying to prove they belong, former national team stars also are hoping to catch on. Most notably, three-time World Cup veteran Landon Donovan.

Donovan has been among the top U.S. players through four games in the Gold Cup. He has five goals and seven assists in his five games back with the squad after a self-imposed hiatus from the sport.

Despite his years of success with the national team, he hasn't been a part of such an historic run. Until now.

"It's a lot of fun," Donovan said. "It's really enjoyable to play in, not only the goals but we're creating lots of chances, and that's enjoyable."

The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.