Apparently, the correct answer to our question last week regarding LD and Deuce was: Donovan, no; Dempsey, yes.
For the first time since 2007, Landon Donovan started a U.S. game on the bench, less than 24 hours after he arrived in D.C. from his twin sister’s wedding in California.
On the other hand, Clint Dempsey, who attended his sister’s wedding in Texas, and arrived in D.C. at 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning, did get the starting nod for Sunday’s quarterfinal against Jamaica, which kicked off at 3:00 p.m.
Dempsey not only started and played the full 90, but was also arguably the Man of the Match, putting his imprint on the midfield, presenting a constant threat going forward, and scoring the goal that put the game away in the 80th minute. Afterward he said he wanted to play well “… to pay back the U.S. team for letting me go and not let the travel be an excuse [but] rather be motivation.”
Donovan came on in the 66th minute and turned in a steady performance.
There was much talk about this being the best performance of the tournament for the U.S., and about how they’d regained their “swagger,” and now look capable of winning the tournament.
A few counterpoints:
• While we agree it was the Yanks’ best performance of Gold Cup 2011, that’s not saying a whole lot.
• It’s hard to believe, and we are having a hard time just typing it, but the U.S. nearly gave up another early goal. In the fourth minute, San Jose Earthquakes attacker Ryan Johnson received the ball at the far post, no one within yards of him.
He was so wide open, he looked blatantly offside—yet he wasn’t: Michael Bradley, slowly jogging out from the near post, kept Johnson on. Tim Howard made a kick save on Johnson and the rebound was somehow skied over the bar.
If either one of those clear chances goes in, the game takes on an entirely different cast.
• The red card to Jermaine Taylor (Houston Dynamo), which helped seal the U.S. victory down the stretch, was completely unwarranted. Taylor hardly touched Jermaine Jones, as the replays clearly showed. The most amazing thing about the play was how Taylor accepted his fate without a single gesture of protest. Just walked right off. Strange—because he didn’t even commit a foul, much less a red-card offense.
The U.S. will play the first semifinal on Wednesday night (7:00 ET, Fox Soccer Channel), getting another shot at Panama, controversial winners over El Salvador (click here for you-are-there field-level highlights, sans TV commentators).
Mexico will meet Honduras in the second semi (10:00 ET, FSC).