New players, same result for the U.S. men's soccer team.
Clarence Goodson scored at the end of the first half and Kenny Cooper at the end of the second to give the Americans a 2-0 victory over Honduras on Thursday night and a spot in their third straight CONCACAF Gold Cup final. It was the U.S. team's third win over Honduras in less than seven weeks, and the second at Soldier Field.
The Americans, winners of the last two Gold Cup titles, will play either Costa Rica or Mexico in Sunday's final at the Meadowlands.
Honduras had a chance to tie with 5 minutes to play, but goalkeeper Troy Perkins and defender Jay Heaps made big stops. Perkins made an excellent save on a shot by Carlo Costly, then Heaps made a sliding block to clear the rebound and end the threat.
Cooper then sealed the victory in the 90th after a nice exchange by Brian Ching and Stuart Holden. Ching, the only regular starter on the Gold Cup roster after missing the Confederations Cup with a strained hamstring, flicked the ball to Holden off his back heel. Holden then crossed it to Cooper, who one-timed it past Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escobar from about 10 feet.
As the Americans celebrated, Escobar leaned into the net, stone-faced.
The U.S. men stunned the soccer world last month by upsetting top-ranked Spain before falling to Brazil in the Confederations Cup. The Gold Cup may not have quite the buzz as that tournament, which also featured World Cup champion Italy, but this run is impressive in its own right.
U.S. coach Bob Bradley did a complete makeover of his roster after the Confederations Cup, letting most of his top players return to their MLS teams or take time off ahead of the European season. In their place, he brought in a bunch of youngsters, many making their first appearances with the senior national team.
While they might not have the flair of Landon Donovan, Tim Howard or Carlos Bocanegra, the kids have been more than all right. The Americans have gone unbeaten in the tournament, and several young players have emerged who could play a role in next year's World Cup.
The United States is currently second in regional qualifying, with the top three teams automatically advancing.
The Americans had numerous chances at the end of the first half, including near-misses by both Holden and Ching in the final 3 minutes. Holden's free kick in the 43rd was tipped over the crossbar by Escobar, while Ching grazed the crossbar a minute later with a left-footed shot from close range.
Finally, in stoppage time, the Americans broke through off a corner kick by Holden.
Positioned directly in front of the goal, Goodson outjumped Costly for the ball and headed it past Escobar into the net. It was Goodson's first international goal, and he celebrated by sliding across the grass as his teammates rushed toward him. Goodson is the 10th U.S. player to score during the Gold Cup; the Americans have 12 goals overall.