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U.S. Men Advance to Gold Cup Final With Dramatic 2-1 Win Against Honduras

  • Oguchi Onyewu Scores First-Ever Goal with Game-Winner in the 92nd Minute
  • U.S. Advances to Record Fifth Gold Cup Final
  • USA Will Face Panama in Tournament Final on Sunday in New Jersey

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (July 21, 2005) — The U.S. Men’s National Team pulled off a dramatic 2-1 victory over Honduras this evening at Giants Stadium as Oguchi Onyewu buried a diving header two minutes into extra time to send the U.S. to the Gold Cup final. The U.S. was behind for the majority of the match, but John O’Brien pulled them even in the 86th minute before Onyewu’s heroics put the U.S. in a record fifth Gold Cup championship match.

The U.S. will now face Panama in the tournament final on Sunday, July 24 at 3 p.m. ET live on Univision from Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Fans can also follow the match live on's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. has won two previous Gold Cups, taking home the crown in 1991 and 2002.

“It was a good win for our players,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena, now 37-2-7 (.880) all-time at home against opponents from CONCACAF. “They played exceptionally well in the second half. Give Honduras credit. They capitalized on a mistake and produced a goal out of it. We weren't our best in the first 10 or 15 minutes of the game, but we played quite well after that. We knew at halftime the adjustments we had to make. We had planned to bring in (Pat) Noonan and (Clint) Dempsey, and I think they did a good job to help us. Obviously, they were great goals by John O'Brien and 'Gooch. Overall, it was a good win."

The victory marked the latest come-from-behind triumph in U.S. Men's National Team modern history (since 1990), with the decisive goals coming in the 86th and 92nd minutes. (The previous latest comeback win came in a 2-1 victory over Trinidad & Tobago in the 1991 Gold Cup, when the U.S. scored in the 85th and 87th minutes.)

Honduras jumped out of the blocks quickly and was the more dangerous team in the early going, as they got behind the U.S. defensive line numerous times to get into the attack, especially down the right flank. After a couple missed chances, Ivan Guerrero scored in the 30th minute and Honduras was able to hold their lead until late in the second half. With four minutes left, O’Brien changed the game as he buried a loose ball in the box to pull the U.S. even. Then, with literally just seconds remaining, Onyewu swept away any thoughts of overtime as he ran free into the box and headed home a Landon Donovan free kick for his first-ever goal with the men’s national team.

“We've been getting opportunities on free kicks and corner kicks all game, and I missed one barely in the first half, but we kept on knocking on the door,” said Onweyu, who missed a header off a corner kick just wide left in the 26th minute. “I think we were bound to get a good opportunity. I don't think anyone expected it to be in the last minute of the game, but thankfully it happened."

Forty seconds into the match, the U.S. was lucky to avoid what could have been a disastrous start as Pope turned the ball over to forward Wilmer Velasquez near the top of the box. Velasquez quickly focused on target, but hit a poor attempt on goal as Keller did well to come out to cut off his angle and fall to his left to make the save.

Arena was forced to use an early substitution as Pope suffered a sprained left ankle after a tough tackle by Asthor Henriguez in the center circle and was replaced in the 15th minute by Frankie Hejduk. 
Honduras took the lead in the 30th minute after Nunez created an immediate counter-attack after stealing a poor pass out of the back by Hejduk. With U.S. defenders flat-footed due to the quick turnover, Nunez slipped the ball through for Guerrero, who ripped a low blast inside the right post past Keller caught leaning the opposite way.

After putting a couple shots on goal, the U.S. had their best chance of the half off a corner kick in the 36th minute. Donovan played it short to O’Brien at the top-left corner of the penalty area and he quickly chipped the ball to the far post where Ralston was able to rise for the header, putting it past Coello, but the Honduras ‘keeper was saved by right post.

Two minutes into injury time, the U.S. almost pulled even before the half as O’Brien played a ball in to Donovan and he unleashed a shot from the top of the area that Coello was able to get a body on, but left a rebound. Ralston pounced on the loose ball in the box, hitting a shot that was again saved by Coello and deflected to Wolff, who buried the ball high into the net only to see it not count, as Ralston was called in an offside position. 

Coello hurt his shoulder on the Ralston shot, but the extent of the injury wasn’t revealed until a few moments later when he almost let a ball drop into his own net. With the U.S. pressuring, Caballeros headed the ball back to Coello and as he was unable to grasp it due to his bum shoulder, the ball missing the right post by inches. Just before halftime, Junior Morales was subbed in for the injured Coello. 

In the 58th minute, the U.S. had to use their second straight substitution due to an injury, with Henriquez hitting Mastroeni with a studs up challenge to his right leg. Moments later, Chris Armas suffered a rough tackle and Arena left the bench to protest the call, which went against the U.S., and was subsequently ejected from a game for the first-ever time with the national team.
The U.S. had two point-blank headers saved by Morales in the 71st and 83rd minutes. The first shot came from second-half substitute Pat Noonan when his eight-yard header off a Donovan cross was stopped cold by a diving Morales. Noonan paid Donovan back later as he redirected an O’Brien weighted ball with a header across the six-yard box, but Donovan’s header went straight at Morales, who made a great reactionary save.

The U.S. finally found the equalizer in the 86th minute, starting the attack from the backline. Onweyu hit a long ball from just over the halfway line into the box for Donovan, who tried to push the ball around defender Erick Vallecilo to get off a shot. The defender was able to toe-poke the ball away, but the ball fell directly to O’Brien who tucked the ball past Morales. The goal was the first for O’Brien since his strike against Portugal in the first match of the 2002 World Cup, a span of three years, but only 10 caps.

Honduras created one more opportunity as Wilson Palacios found room on the right side of the penalty area and ripped a low shot, but Keller was there to cover the near post. Keller increased his record to 15-3-2 in Gold Cup play in 20 appearances, putting him tied for the U.S. lead with Cobi Jones for the top spot in all-time Gold Cup appearances.

The scene was then set for Onweyu as Donovan curled in the free kick from the right sideline and the defender streaked through the middle of the box and finished with a diving header that skimmed off the underside of the crossbar.

Over the last 10 years, the only other U.S. player to score a game-winner in the final 15 minutes for his first goal with the national team was DaMarcus Beasley (in stoppage time of a 2-1 Gold Cup win over Korea Republic on Jan. 19, 2002). Donovan's assist gives him 21 in his 69-game international career, just one shy of tying Cobi Jones for the USA's all-time lead. 

-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --

USA vs. Honduras
Date: July 21, 2005
Competition: CONCACAF Gold Cup - Semifinal
Venue: Giants Stadium – East Rutherford, N.J.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET
Attendance: 41,721
Weather: Hot, 85 degrees

Scoring Summary: 1    2   F
USA                          0  2   2
Honduras              1    0  1

HON – Ivan Guerrero (Tyson Nunez)                30th minute
USA – John O’Brien (unassisted)                    86.
USA – Oguchi Onyewu (Landon Donovan)     92+.      

USA: 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 4-Oguchi Onyewu, 23-Eddie Pope (2-Frankie Hejduk, 15), 12-Jimmy Conrad; 14-Chris Armas, 25-Pablo Mastroeni (8-Clint Dempsey, 58), 5-John O’Brien, 10-Landon Donovan; 19-Steve Ralston, 16-Josh Wolff (13-Pat Noonan, 63), 7-DaMarcus Beasley
Subs not used: 1-Marcus Hahnemann, 3-Greg Vanney, 9-Santino Quaranta, 22-Tony Sanneh
Head Coach: Bruce Arena

HON: 1-Victor Coello (22-Junior Morales, 51+), 4-Samuel Caballeros, 21-Erick Vallecilo, 3-Maynor Figueroa, 2-Asthor Enriquez (24-Luis Guifarro, 89); 14-Oscar Garcia, 13-Mario Berrios, 19-Danilo Turcios (8-Wilson Palacios, 75), 23-Ivan Guerrero; 10-Wilmer Velazquez (capt.), 11-Milton Nuñez.
Subs not used: 6-Junior Izaguirre, 9-Jose Ramirez, 18-Carlos Moran, 20-Hendry Thomas
Head Coach: Jose de la Paz

Stats Summary:      USA   HON
 Shots                           14        6
 Saves                           3        4
 Corner Kicks               6        3
 Fouls                           16      12
 Offside                         1        5

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Pablo Mastroeni (caution)  34th minute
HON – Danilo Turcios (caution)  49.
HON – Mario Berrios (caution)  58.
HON – Oscar Garcia (caution)  72.

Referee:      Peter Prendergast (JAM)
1st Asst.:      Anthony Garwood (JAM)
2nd Asst.:      Joseph Taylor (TRI)
Fourth Official:    Carlos Batres (GUA) Man of the Match: Kasey Keller