72613_isi_bedoyaalejandro_usmntmj070513128 Michael Janosz/isiphotos.com
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Bedoya, Donovan Bonded in U.S. Win Over Honduras

The 26-year-old midfielder struggled in his group match start against Costa Rica, but Jurgen Klinsmann put him in the starting lineup against Honduras and he forged a strong rapport with Landon Donovan.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
July 26, 2013
10:17 AM
ARLINGTON, Texas—One was a surefire starter, the other a surprise inclusion, but both Landon Donovan and Alejandro Bedoya made their cases for starts in the Gold Cup final in a 3-1 win against Honduras on Wednesday night.

Donovan has little left to prove. He’s shown throughout the Gold Cup he’s still on another level than the other players in the region, or at least the ones who turned up for this tournament.

“He’s Landon,” Eddie Johnson said, succinctly. “He’s showing what he can do and how valuable he is to this national team.”

The all-time leading scorer in U.S. national team history added another pair of goals and also put one more onto his voluminous assist mark as well. Donovan is playing as well as he ever has, which is a noteworthy achievement and a specific goal.

“Your benchmark is the best Landon Donovan ever,” Klinsmann told Donovan. “I’m not taking anything less than that, and he’s trying to catch up with that.”

The 31-year-old felt he needed to take a break from the sport to be able to achieve everything he wants to achieve, and with five goals and seven assists in the Gold Cup his sabbatical seems successful viewed from the outside. It would be a surprise not to see him in Sarajevo in August when the Stars and Stripes tune up for their September qualifiers.

The player who put Donovan in place for his brace might also be knocking on the door of an invitation to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bedoya was a surprise semifinal starter after he stumbled through his first start of the tournament, the 1-0 quarterfinal win against Costa Rica. Joe Corona was preferred to him against El Salvador, but Klinsmann elected to give Bedoya another shot.

“I was just a little bit more confident” against Honduras than in his first start, Bedoya said after the win. “A little bit more trying to spread the game. I think I was able to work with more balls. Sometimes you go through stretches where you don’t really touch the ball.”

The Helsingborgs midfielder was able to exploit Honduran left back Juan Carlos Garcia on several occasions and said after the match he didn’t feel Los Catrachos respected the quickness he brings. After creating the second goal by running down a long ball and popping it up to an open Donovan, he asked for more of the same after the break.

“I talked to Clarence (Goodson) and Matt Besler at halftime to keep putting them long, over the top because I thought I could beat Honduras with my speed,” he said. “I was able to do that again and put it an easy ball across to Landon, easy finish.”

That third goal put the game away and secured a spot in the final for the United States against Panama, and Klinsmann could call for Bedoya to reprise his semifinal performance in the final. There were some struggles with Bedoya defaulting to a cross instead of going at players in one-on-one situations and some weaker defensive moments, but the set-ups were exactly what Donovan needed to underscore his headlining performance.

“I always say when you get an assist somebody has to score the goal. So if you make a good pass and they don’t score, you don’t get an assist,” Donovan said. “Conversely, a lot of times to score you need somebody to make a play for you and Ale made a few really good plays tonight to help me.”

Jon Arnold is an ASN contributing editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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