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GOLD CUP SOCCER

U.S. defeats Honduras, 2-0

Clarence Goodson and Kenny Cooper each score a goal for the defending champion American team, which will face Mexico in the final on Sunday. Mexico beats Costa Rica on penalty kicks.

July 24, 2009|Associated Press

CHICAGO — First the big boys in South Africa, now the JV at home. No matter who the United States puts on the field these days, they're finding a way to win.

Clarence Goodson scored at the end of the first half and Kenny Cooper at the end of the second to give a young American team a 2-0 victory over Honduras on Thursday night and a spot in its third straight CONCACAF Gold Cup final. The Americans, winners of the last two Gold Cup titles, will play Mexico in Sunday's final at Giants Stadium. In the other semifinal, Mexico defeated Costa Rica, 5-3, on penalty kicks after the teams were tied 1-1 after 120 minutes.

Honduras had a chance to tie with five minutes to play, but goalkeeper Troy Perkins and defender Jay Heaps made big stops. Perkins made an excellent save on a shot by Carlo Costly, then Heaps made a sliding block to clear the rebound and end the threat.

Cooper then sealed the victory with a goal in the 90th minute, one-timing a pass from Stuart Holden past Honduran goalkeeper Donis Escobar. As the Americans celebrated, Escobar leaned into the net, stone-faced.

It was the U.S. team's third win over Honduras in less than seven weeks, and the second at Soldier Field.

The U.S. men stunned the soccer world last month by upsetting top-ranked Spain before falling to Brazil in the Confederations Cup. The Gold Cup may not have quite the buzz as that tournament, which also featured World Cup champion Italy, but this run is impressive in its own right.

U.S. Coach Bob Bradley did a complete makeover of his roster after the Confederations Cup, letting most of his top players return to their MLS teams or take time off ahead of the European season. In their place, he brought in a bunch of youngsters, many making their first appearances with the senior national team.

While they might not have the flair of Landon Donovan, Tim Howard or Carlos Bocanegra, the kids have been more than all right.

The Americans have gone unbeaten in the tournament, and several young players have emerged who could play a role in next year's World Cup. Holden had assists on both goals Thursday, adding to the two he scored in earlier games.

In Mexico's victory, Guillermo Ochoa made a save on the third penalty kick, setting up a rematch in the final with the U.S. After Mexico and Costa Rica converted their fourth penalty kicks, Carlos Vela stepped up and buried the ball in the far side of the net to seal the victory.

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