Sure, it wasn’t on the MLS regular season calendar, but Wednesday night’s Gold Cup semifinal between the United States and Honduras had the feel of a San Jose Earthquakes midweek match.
Representing the victorious U.S. Men’s National Team were Quakes first team stalwarts Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon, though they began their night on the bench, and newly signed Clarence Goodson, the anchor of The Yanks defense. Meanwhile, a familiar face, one with the devilish grin, suited up for the Hondurans as midfield motor Marvin Chavez valiantly represented Los Catrachos in a losing effort.
Four Earthquakes, all impact players for club, getting it done on the international level for country in front of a packed house at Cowboys Stadium.
For the U.S., center back Goodson continued his stellar tournament as he captained the defense to another solid performance. But he wasn’t done there. Perhaps in a sign of things to come when he eventually arrives at Buck Shaw Stadium, the unflappable defender chipped in a pair of secondary “MLS” assists on offense, as the USMNT tallied thrice against Honduras.
His second helper, a deft long ball to Alejandro Bedoya which led to Landon Donovan’s insurance goal, was a thing of beauty. Who among those in attendance and watching on television didn’t envision that same quality of pass leading to many a scoring opportunity for the Quakes. Goodson’s awareness of those around him is vital to his game, and with the physical skill to deliver from the back, he should fit in perfectly within San Jose’s system. The big summer signing’s Earthquakes debut can’t come soon enough!
Making his appearance as a substitute after scoring 5 goals in the tournament’s group stage, forward Chris Wondolowski showed off his versatility yet again for Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad. While he didn’t have any clear-cut chances to build on his goal tally, Wondo was all over the field ensuring that the U.S. would see out its 3-1 victory. His favorite supplier of the ball Kyle Beckerman already subbed out, the Earthquakes striker had to chase the game on offense, but no one will begrudge the results of his 20 minute shift.
Donned in blue, but with white instead of black accents, Marvin Chavez did for Honduras what he does so well for the Earthquakes. Always with his head up and his sights on goal, Chavez displayed his trademark creativity in the midfield for the trailing Hondurans, and off a set piece deep in the U.S. end, delivered a perfect cross into the area for teammate Nery Medina to head home to halve the scoreboard deficit. That his assist was trumped by Goodson’s a minute later only served to show how valuable each of these Quakes were to his national team.
And then there was Gordon, wearing #27 as the last guy on the U.S. roster, consigned to the bench more an observer than a difference maker. Klinsmann had already brought in Wondolowski to spell man-of-the-match Donovan, and having used his three substitutions was unable to get the last of three Earthquakes on the field. Perhaps Los Catrachos, trailing by two goals and needed some late game heroics, should have implored San Jose’s head Goonie to step in for their side. Sure, the paperwork would have been impossible to complete, but one has to imagine Honduras could have used someone like Gordon. Instead, he’ll press forward on his tournament adventure, ready at a moment’s notice to step in for The Yanks as needed.
The 3-1 victory for the USMNT means that three Earthquakes players — Goodson, Wondolowski, and Gordon — will gladly continue their Gold Cup journey in Sunday’s Gold Cup final in Chicago. However, one will reluctantly take the road less traveled back to San Jose — Chavez — looking to put the loss in his rear view mirror and bring his energy and enthusiasm back to the Earthquakes as they take on the Portland Timbers on Saturday.
Four Earthquakes, pitted against each other as their countries did battle for the Gold Cup, knowing that not all could call themselves champions. But one thing was made perfectly clear following Wednesday’s semifinal: Supporters of the San Jose Earthquakes, proud of their club and its players, were for one special night winners.