In three days' time, the United States will begin their involvement in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, kicking off against Belize in Portland. On Friday night, the Americans played Guatemala in a final tune-up match for the competition that would allow Jurgen Klinsmann a good look at pretty much his entire squad. Stu Holden sat the first half out before being substituted in just after halftime.
At that point, the United States led 1-0 thanks to a Herculez Gomez goal in the 42nd minute. The Xolos player capitalized on some weak Guatemalan defending as he pounced on a lofted ball into the box from Jose Francisco Torres. The ball was meant for fellow Club Tijuana man Joe Corona but he was unable to get on the end of the cross. The ball made its way to the back post and it was a relatively easy finish for Gomez.
Halftime came and went and Jurgen Klinsmann brought in two substitutes at the break. Mix Diskerud came on for Kyle Beckerman and Stu Holden replaced Jose Francisco Torres. That's when the fun began.
On 54 minutes, Landon Donovan, who made his return to the national time after a year away, was brought down in the box. The LA Galaxy man took the penalty kick that he won, scoring his 50th goal for the Yanks.
15 minutes later, Donovan would turn provider for the Americans' third goal, slotting a well-weighted ball into the box for Chris Wondolowski. The San Jose Earthquakes forward took the goalkeeper on one-on-one and finished well for his first national team goal. The ball from Donovan was actually meant for Holden, who was running into the box alongside Wondo, but was deflected away from Stu.
In the 72 minute, the Americans would add a fourth goal with Landon Donovan's second of the night and 51st of his career. The goal was created through brilliant play between Stu and Mix Diskerud. A bit of back-and-forth play between Holden, Diskerud, and Alejandro Bedoya saw Stu make a run to the edge of the area with the ball at his feet. Hitting it first time, Holden chipped a beautiful ball onto the penalty spot with an onrushing Landon Donovan hitting it on the volley to score.
Six minutes from time, Clarence Goodson would add the Americans' fifth goal after some juggling in the box following a corner that Oguchi Onyewu nodded down. Goodsen flicked the ball to himself before hitting it towards goal on the volley. The ball deflected to a wider position but the American defender followed up, smashing the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Finally, in the 88th minute, the United States would score their sixth and final goal of the match. Holden was again integral, playing a lovely chipped, first time ball down the left wing to Brek Shea. The Stoke City winger played a low cross into the area that a number of Americans and Guatemalans missed. The slow-roller came to Alejandro Bedoya, who hit it at the first attempt to score his first international goal.
Despite only playing 45 minutes, Holden looked incredibly sharp against Guatemala, who admittedly were not the best team in the world. Stu showed that he still has the ability to play that killer ball and was fearless in the tackles. If he keeps this up, the Gold Cup will be an incredible springboard for him into the 2013/14 Championship season.