Well, that's one step farther than I thought the MLS and Scandanavian All-Star team would advance in the Gold Cup, but there you have it. The US grabbed the lead on a Goodson header off a Holden corner in first half stoppage time and came out guns a-blazin' to start the second half. Despite their inability to find the net a second time, Honduras only had a few moments of danger the other way until, in the closing stages, Cooper tapped in one of the more well-worked goals I've seen a US team manufacture from the run of play. 2-0 to the good guys. Talking points? I have a few...
* StuHo is the man. Stuart Holden has taken a huge step in this tournament. Two more helpers today didn't hurt his case, and he looked poised and confident on the ball. You've got to figure that he's worked his way onto the next qualification roster and set himself up for consideration for South Africa.
* Anybody else punching tickets? Marshall was solid again and might be working himself into position as Gooch's backup. Goodson looked pretty good as well, though I think he has more to prove. Perkins made some big saves when called upon, but I'm still not sure Bradley won't want someone with Hahnemann's experience as his #3 keeper. Ching's ticket is probably already punched, but he worked his ass off. Much of that work was in vain, but his turn and volley was unlucky to be deflected, and his "hold and dish" to Holden to set up the second was pretty stuff. Beckerman has been an engine of righteous midfield energy, but he's got a lot of center mids to plow through before he sees significant time.
* Who disappointed? Heaps wasn't as bad as I would have expected though I did slap my forehead a few times at his giveaways. Still, he wasn't awful, and I'll give him grudging props for that. Pearce had some moments rushing forward in possession (as the modern international fullback needs to do), but his charges and crosses didn't result in much. Arnaud was all huff and puff with little to show for it. Pause was pretty anonymous. And then, of course, there's Robbie Rogers...
* Bulk up and stop watching Hejduk! I'm pretty sure my 6 year old daughter could knock Rogers off the ball. Seriously, can somebody in Columbus get the kid in a weight room? And how about shielding his eyes during crossing practice so he can't see how to "bend it like Frankie"?
* As soon as I saw the whistlemen take the field, I knew we were in for some pain. I've seen this guy on at least one (and possibly two) occasions in this Gold Cup, and he's been nothing short of awful--calling ticky-tack stuff while winking at violent crimes, smirking at genuinely fouled players asking for calls, and generally strutting around like a peacock. But then, what more can you expect from the vaunted Whistlebrethren of CONCACAF?
* You know, what I've seen of Walter Martinez in this tournament has had me cursing the fact that he got away from DC United in the pre-season, but after his diving, whining performance in this match, I'm not so sure I would have liked him anyway. Of course, if the standard is N'Silu, then perhaps I'm not being quite fair...
* And finally, if you'll allow it, a question for Bob. Quick, what's the deepest position on the US Men's National team? Well, I suppose you could argue for keeper, but we're stacked at central midfield as well. Which begs the question...Hey Skeletor, you coulda used a backup plan when Pause and Beckerman were both sitting on cards and looking a little gassed, huh?
Alright. That was a pretty disjointed dash through the reaction, and I'm sure I've missed something, so fire away in the comments. Or go check out my Twitter-stream to see the match as it happened through my keyboard (it's thrilling stuff, I promise ;-).
On to the final!