[USA-EL SALVADOR] Landon Donovan set up four goals and scored one as the USA thumped El Salvador, 5-1, in a Gold Cup quarterfinal win on Sunday in Baltimore.
Donovan said that since returning to the national team after his four-month break from soccer “every game is an audition." If so, this tryout phase for the USA's all-time greatest player has gone quite well. In his five games back, he's scored five goals and seven assists. He assisted on the gamewinner against Costa Rica on Tuesday and against El Salvador had his best post-sabbatical outing.
THE GOALS. Defender Clarence Goodson opened the scoring in the 21st minute after Donovan fed him from the endline for a six-yard shot. The 2-0 came after a sequence of 23 passes finished with Donovan dribbling into the heart of the Salvadoran defense and feeding Chris Wondolowski, who relayed the ball to Joe Corona, who stroked it low into the net from 16 yards in the 29th minute.
DaMarcus Beasley body-blocking Rodolfo Zelaya gifted El Salvador a 39th minute penalty kick that Zelaya converted.
The Americans survived a series of spirited Salvadoran attacks early in the second half before finishing off the Central Americans. Sub Eddie Johnson scored with his first touch 14 seconds after entering game, heading home Donovan’s cross from a corner kick in the 61st minute. Johnson returned the favor in the 78th minute, nodding a long clearance from goalkeeper Nick Rimando to Donovan, who easily rounded Salvadoran goalie Dagoberto Portillo to score his 54th career goal for the USA.
In the 84th minute, Donovan -- notching his 55th career assist -- chipped a ball for Mix Diskerud to head past Portillo to complete the 5-1 rout.
MAN OF THREE NATIONS. The 23-year-old Corona, who scored his second goal of the Gold Cup after a feint sent defender Marcelo Posadas to the ground, was playing against one of the three nations he was eligible to represent. Corona was born in Los Angeles to a Mexican father and Salvadoran mother, and his family moved to Tijuana when he was a toddler to be with his father's extended family. He said he played street soccer everyday with friends in Tijuana after school.
At age 10, his parents felt it was important for Joe to live in the USA -- "Because I'm American and they wanted me to speak English," he said -- and they moved to San Diego.
The Salvadoran national team program was the first to court Corona, but the first time he appeared in a national team jersey was during a friendly with Mexico's U-22 team, having drawn attention while playing with Tijuana's Xolos, for whom he debuted in 2010 and whom he helped win the Mexican title in 2012.
Corona's allegiance to the USA was cemented when he played for the U.S. U-23s during its failed attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics during which he scored four goals. His Gold Cup performances wide right in midfield indicate a bright future for him in Jurgen Klinsmann's squad.
HIGH PRAISE. El Salvador coach Agustin Castillo said: "Collectively, they're a very good team. They almost play by memory. They can find the spaces. It almost seems like every time they pass the ball into a space it's going to nobody, then somebody appears and actually meets the ball. Good work, good movement."
RECORDS. The triumph over El Salvador extended the USA record win streak to nine games. The previous record was seven, set en route to the 2007 Gold Cup title. Its 16 goals in four 2013 Gold Cup games broke the USA’s record for Gold Cup goals, previously set at 13 at the 2003 tournament.
UP NEXT. The USA faces the Honduras in the semifinals on Wednesday in Arlington, Texas (7 pm ET).
July 21 in Baltimore
USA 5 El Salvador 1. Goals: Goodson 21, Corona 29, E.Johnson 60, Donovan 78, Diskerud 84; Zelaya (pen.) 39.
USA --Rimando; Parkhurst, Besler (Orozco Fiscal, 75), Goodson, Beasley, Beckerman, Diskerud; Corona, Torres (Shea, 66), Donovan; Wondolowski (E.Johnson, 60).
El Salvador --Portillo; Garcia, Turcios, Henriquez, Posadas; Flores, Menjivar, Ceren, Romero (Burgos, 46); Blanco (Santamaria, 46), Zelaya (Mayen, 73).
Yellow cards:USA -- Goodson 15; El Salvador -- Ceren 68.
Referee: Enrico Wijngaarde (Suriname).