Mission Accomplished: Landon Donovan leads USA to Brazil

[USA-MEXICO] The USA, one of only seven nations to have qualified for every World Cup since 1990, booked a ticket to Brazil 2014 by beating its archrival, Mexico, 2-0, in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday to make it seven World Cups in a row. Landon Donovan, his U.S. career in doubt a few months ago, set up the first goal -- by fellow comeback kid, Eddie Johnson -- and scored the second.

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Donovan’s four-month sabbatical saw him miss the USA’s first six Hexagonal games. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann stated he’d have to earn back his spot on the team, despite a history of greatness for the USA. And Donovan said during this summer’s Gold Cup that “every game is an audition."

The 31-year-old nailed the tryout, with five goals and seven assists as the USA won lifted the Gold Cup and he hoisted the Golden Ball MVP award.

On Tuesday, a desperate Mexican team looking for only its second Hexagonal win came out strong. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard’s busy first half started by saving a DaMarcus Beasley mis-kick before three much more challenging saves on efforts by Javier Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos and Diego Reyes.

Only Donovan, Johnson and Clint Dempsey came close to threatening the Mexican goal in the first half. Both Donovan and Dempsey their close-range shots deflected by defenders into Jose Corona’s hands and Johnson's header went straight to Corona. Dempsey’s effort was notable for the slick back-heel from Johnson that set it up.

As in the 3-1 loss Friday at Costa Rica, the Americans improved in the second half and four minutes in Donovan delivered the perfect corner: An outswinger that teased Corona into thinking he might reach it while curving well out of his reach. Johnson power-headed it into the net.

The goal had a profound effect on the Mexicans. As was the case when Honduras took the lead last Friday in Azteca Stadium -- a 2-1 Honduras win -- they mis-hit simple passes and couldn’t trap balls that pros should handle with ease. While the Mexicans collapsed under the pressure, the Americans weren’t delivering much in the way of brilliant soccer. But sub Mix Diskerud created a highlight when he delicately chipped the ball past a Mexican defender in the penalty area and sent a sharp low ball in front of the goal that an alert Donovan reached before his marker to pound into the net.

It could have been 3-0, but Dempsey banged a stoppage-time penalty kick over the crossbar.

DONOVAN’S QUALIFYING FEATS. Donovan has now helped the USA reach four World Cups, playing in a U.S. record 38 qualifiers while scoring a record 13 goals.

LANDON VS. EL TRI. His game-sealing goal in Columbus marked Donovan’s sixth career strike against Mexico, dating back to his national team debut in 2000.
2-0 -- Friendly (October 2000) Los Angeles
2-0 -- World Cup (June 2002) South Korea.
2-1 -- Friendly (June 2007) in Glendale, Ariz.
2-1 -- Gold Cup final (June 2007) Chicago
2-4 -- Gold Cup final (June 2011) Pasadena, Calif.
2-0 -- World Cup qualifying (Aug. 2013) in Columbus, Ohio.

EDDIE’S RUN. Johnson’s strike puts him second behind Donovan in U.S. qualifying goals with 12 in 21 qualifiers. But the 29-year-old, who scored five goals in his first year with the national team in 2004, scored his last goal for the USA in 2008 before Klinsmann brought him back in the fold in 2012 after his club career revived with the Seattle Sounders following failure abroad. Johnson saved the USA in Antigua & Barbuda with both goals in a 2-1 comeback win in the semifinal round last year and he’s scored five goals this year.

KLINSMANN vs. EL TRI. The victory continued Klinsmann’s undefeated record against Mexico as a German national team player, Germany coach, and U.S. coach.

As a player, Klinsmann celebrated a 2-1 defeat of El Tri in the round of 16 at the 1998 World Cup in France; started in a 0-0 friendly at Azteca in 1993; and came on as a halftime sub in a 1-1 friendly in Dresden in 1992. With him as coach, Germany beat the Mexicans, 4-3, in the 2005 Confederations Cup.

Upon taking the U.S. helm, Klinsmann debuted with a 1-1 tie in August 2011. A year later, the USA won at Mexico for the first time in history, a 1-0 victory in a friendly. And their first Hexagonal meeting was a scoreless tie in Azteca Stadium last March.

WORLD CUP REGULARS. The other six nations that have, like the USA, reached every World Cup since 1990 are Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Spain and South Korea. (Besides 2014 host Brazil, Italy, Argentina and South Korea have already clinched for next summer.)

EARLY IN. Only once before since the Hexagonal – the six-team, 10-game, final-round format – was introduced has the USA, which has two games left, clinched a World Cup spot this early. In 2005, under Coach Bruce Arena, the Americans booked a ticket on Matchday 7 -- with another 2-0 win over Mexico in Columbus. In 1997, 2001 and 2009, they clinched on Matchday 9.

Sept. 10 in Columbus
USA 2 Mexico 0. Goals: E.Johnson 49, Donovan 78.
USA -- Howard; F.Johnson (Parkhurst 46), Goodson, Gonzalez, Beasley; Jones, Beckerman; Bedoya (Zusi 84), Dempsey, Donovan; E.Johnson (Diskerud 76).
Mexico  -- Jose Corona; Mier, Reyes, Moreno, Salcido (Reyna 77); Arce (Peralta 69), Zavala, Gimenez (Herrera 55), Guardado; dos Santos, Hernandez.
Yellow cards: USA -- Bedoya 45+1, Donovan 85.
Referee: Courtney Campbell (Jamaica).

Hexagonal Results:
Sept. 10
USA 2 Mexico 0
Jamaica 1 Costa Rica 1
Honduras 2 Panama 2

Hexagonal Standings:
15 Costa Rica 4-3-1 12/6
16 USA 5-1-2 10/6
11 Honduras 3-2-3 10/10
8 Mexico 1-5-2 4/6
8 Panama 1-5-2 7/9
4 Jamaica 0-4-4 3/9

Hexagonal Schedule:
Oct. 11
Honduras-Costa Rica
Oct. 15
Costa Rica-Mexico.

15 comments about "Mission Accomplished: Landon Donovan leads USA to Brazil".
  1. R2 Dad, September 10, 2013 at 9:02 p.m.

    wow. half time and it's been crap so far. have yet to see one of our midfielders receive the ball from the back line, turn and beat a defender. too many long balls to count. the question is, who will the subs be? mexico have created the better chances so far.

  2. R2 Dad, September 10, 2013 at 9:12 p.m.

    one of the best advertisements for the USA. Mexico fans w flags sitting peacefully next to US fans. Americans aren't abusing them, throwing bags of urine or batteries. CONCACAF home fans not quite so respectful south of the border.

  3. Luis P. KIFUTSAL, September 11, 2013 at 11:13 a.m.

    R2 Dad, Congratulations!!! Down South in Brazil will be a different story! However, keep in mind, true crazy fans act upon how passionate they are about their team, their national team. Club x Club is a war! National team x National team a bigger war!!! How USA military treats their "enemies"? With flowers and free drinks? It is no difference in soccer 'war' zones! Is it right? No. But it is just the way it is...emotions are too high and conflicts will occur! Best wishes...

  4. Alex G. Sicre, September 11, 2013 at 11:39 a.m.

    Wow this is not the Mexico we're used to seeing. But this is the USMNT that we will see from now on. We have depth and conviction. Donovan should be taking the penalties. Clint is not convincing on them. Go USA.

  5. David Huff, September 11, 2013 at 12:41 p.m.

    Viva Los Estados Unidos! Ein Volk, Ein Klinsmann, Ein USA! :-)

  6. Chris Snyder, September 11, 2013 at 12:54 p.m.

    Mr. Luis P. KIFUTSAL...please take care in choosing metaphors. Many people (myself included), and especially people that have fought and seen people killed in a war; not a sport, will take offense to your metaphor. Considering that today is also September 11th, your timing couldn't be worse. Hopefully your intent was not malicious, but your choice of words was very questionable at best. Mr. LPK's comment notwithstanding, great job by our team! I'm proud to be a member of our federation, a supporter of our team, and most of all, to be an AMERICAN!

  7. Kent James, September 11, 2013 at 1:25 p.m.

    Sorry Luis, you can passionately support your team while respecting your opponents. After all, if your opponents are not worthy of respect, beating them is not particularly notable. The game is played at a higher level when players and fans respect each other, so we should all strive for that. And the best way to achieve that is for teammates and fellow fans to exert peer pressure that emphasizes respect. Disrespectful actions do not indicate passion, they indicate a lack of self-control.

  8. Thomas Brannan, September 11, 2013 at 2:01 p.m.

    Clint Dempsey interviewed by Jeremy Schapp said, "thank you and yes sir". When is the last time you heard a professional athlete say, "yes sir". We have the best sport and the best people playing it.

  9. Chris Snyder, September 11, 2013 at 2:02 p.m.

    Very well said, Kent.

  10. Scott O'Connor, September 11, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.

    I also noticed Kyle Beckerman who got creamed a couple times at the end of the game just pick himself up and carry on. No gamesmanship, no writhing on the ground, no baiting to get someone booked. That's how we roll. CONCACAF teams suck for sportsmanship because they aren't very good. They've watched as the hated "gringos" became the best team in the region. Their only recourse is to channel their hatred of the United States into cheap shots and cheating. I do leave Mexico out of this critique because I do think they carry themselves with class. They are a good side and don't need to resort to the CONCACRAP BS to get ahead. I'm proud of our fans who tolerate the presence of away fans. American fans are not perfect in general however, just go to an NFL game with visiting colors on and find out how inhospitable we can be as well.

  11. I w Nowozeniuk, September 11, 2013 at 3:51 p.m.

    No question about it, the EL-Tri is a spent team and can't make it happen any more. And you're absolutely right Scott, I have attended only two NFL games in my life, and yes, the crazies are out of control, but that's due to their frustration of having to sit for 3 hours and watch 8 minutes of action; that is real penance.

  12. Thomas Fouce, September 11, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.

    Luis, Chris, Kent, et al: I have had the good fortune to attend many games in many different countries including several World Cups ('70, '82, '90, '94, '98, '02, '06) and have never had a bad experience with opposing fans. The worst experiences for me have always been in Los Angeles with Mexican and central american fans. True soccer fans can be passionate about their teams, both club and country, while still respecting the other teams and their fans.

    The wonderful thing about every World Cup I have attended is that you are surrounded by fans from all over the world who are there for the same reason that you are: to support their team but also to enjoy the game. No throwing of urine or batteries required.

  13. Chris Snyder, September 11, 2013 at 5:39 p.m.

    Likewise, Thomas. I have been to two world cups, two European championships, and seen probably 35 league and cup games in 12 different countries. Not counting games I have seen at the L. A. Coliseum and the Rose Bowl involving national teams from CONCACAF countries, I have seen ONE fight (Man. United vs. Man. City at Eastlands; now the Etihad Stadium) in all those stadiums and have NEVER seen bottles, bags of urine, etc. thrown at players or opposing fans. I hate to sound primitive, but maybe some "fans" need to be dragged out, disciplined (and in many of the countries that I'm talking about that involves a slap everywhere EXCEPT the wrist; and the police don't use their hands), and banned for life from ever entering the stadium again, lest they suffer a real consequence.

  14. David Huff, September 11, 2013 at 7:11 p.m.

    @Thomas and Chris, another way to cure such poor behavior would be to have FIFA sanction the offending team's fanbase by having their team play in an "empty" stadium similar to what has been done in the past for racist or violent fan abuse incidents.

  15. Kent James, September 11, 2013 at 10:12 p.m.

    World cup finals games are vastly different than qualifiers. WC games have one of the best atmospheres in sports. It's nice to see that US fans seem to behave graciously at qualifiers in the US. NFL games are a bit scary; I went to a pre-season game many years ago and was appalled that the most vocal home fans wanted to see the opponents physically injured almost more than they cared about winning. Maybe due to the frustration cited by I w... David H, your recommendation is exactly right; fans who behave poorly should not be given the privilege of attending future games.

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