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Holden Pushes U.S. Into Gold Cup Final

CHICAGO, Ill. – Stuart Holden collected two assists to lead the USA to its third straight CONCACAF Gold Cup final. Holden assisted Clarence Goodson and Kenny Cooper leading the USA to a 2-0 win over Honduras.

First Half

Neither team wasted time getting their offenses started. United States defender Jay Heaps headed a low attempt toward goal in just the second minute, and, three minutes later, Honduras had a decent shot. U.S. defender Chad Marshall headed it out to keep the net clean.

In the 14th minute, Honduras’ midfielder Carlo Costly found himself in a one vs. one competition with U.S. goalkeeper Troy Perkins. Costly shot a weak ball at Perkins, who blocked it, but the play was ruled offside.

One minute later Holden started making some noise for the USA. Holden crossed the ball into the box, where Goodson headed it into the outside net.

Five minutes later, Honduras’ Osman Chavez launched a shot on goal. Perkins knocked the shot over the bar. The corner kick landed in the box, with Honduras taking a couple of shots. Costly attempted the first shot, which was cleared by defense. Erick Norales headed the follow up wide.

Holden sent the ball just over the bar in the 22nd minute. And in the 34th minute, Holden rocketed another attempt into the box. Marshall jumped up but was beat by a Honduran defender, who knocked the ball out of harm’s way.

U.S. defensive midfielder Logan Pause took down Norales in the 39th minute to receive the first yellow card of the match.

Three minutes later, the Americans had a strong opportunity, when they were awarded a freekick. Holden and Robbie Rogers lined up to take the kick, and Holden arched a picturesque shot toward the upper left corner. Honduras goalkeeper Dornis Escobar punched the ball over the bar for a U.S. corner kick.

In the 45th minute, Rogers tackled the ball away from Honduras and started running toward goal. Rogers blasted a shot toward net, which was knocked out for a corner. Holden bent another corner into the box. Clarence Goodson leapt up and beat Honduras’ Costly. Goodson headed it in for a 1-0 lead.

Second half

The U.S. Men kept pushing as the second half began. In just the 47th minute, Holden headed the ball toward goal. Escobar made the save. Four minutes later, Marshall almost sneaked in a low ball. Escobar dove for the save.

Seven minutes later, Davy Arnaud rocketed a shot toward goal. And a minute later, Holden forced Escobar to make a save.

In the 58th minute, Morales blasted a free kick toward goal. The U.S. defense headed the ball back into play. Morales stepped forward and drilled the rebound back toward goal. Perkins made the save.

Five minutes later Rogers and Nery Medina hit heads while both going for the ball. Medina hit the pitch, lying motionless on the ground. After being checked out, both players were cleared to reenter the match.

Holden continued to push, sending a freekick toward goal in the 70th minute. Six minutes later, he sailed a high ball out just inches from the goal.

Costly dove in the corner in the 78th minute, earning him a yellow card.

In the 85th minute, Costly almost found the net. Costly sent a shot toward goal, which bounced off Perkins’ chest and back into play. Costly picked up his own rebound and fired of another shot. The defense sent it out. Perkins smothered the corner kick, keeping his net clean.

Heaps almost struck in the 87th minute, heading the ball toward goal. Escobar made the save.

Cooper, who entered the match in the 86th minute, soon boosted the Americans to a 2-0 lead. After some tidy holdup work from Brian Ching, Holden bent the ball into the box from the left. Cooper kicked a low ball into the net.

The Americans held on to earn their third straight trip to the finals, and sixth overall.

Kathryn L. Knapp, Goal.com

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