Kick Off: USMNT make Gold Cup semis after humbling El Salvador in Baltimore

Here are the Top 15 soccer stories we’re following today.

1) US HIT EL SALVADOR FOR FIVE: In a raucous atmosphere in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon, the US national team put El Salvador to the sword with a 5-1 win following a second-half master class. Jurgen Klinsmann’s team led 2-1 at the break but turned on the style late on to reach the Gold Cup semifinals. The USMNT silenced the large Salvadoran contingent that dominated the crowd of close to 70,000, as the US marched on. Thisis Baltimore Sun columnist was behind the scenes as the intense occasion descended on Maryland.

2) DONOVAN’S REVIVAL COMPLETE? One goal, three assists and a totally dominate performance; is Landon Donovan back to his best for the Yanks? It certainly seems so. Donovan has now scored five goals and added six assists since rejoining the national team. And oh yeah, he likes to wear shades when taking a corner kick, too…

3) SUPER SUB EJ & QB BECKERMAN SHINE: It took Eddie Johnson 14 seconds to score after replacing Chris Wondolowski against El Salvador, and the Seattle Sounders forward had a huge impact on the game. He flicked on for Donovan to grab the fourth and could have had a hat trick. Kyle Beckerman also received plaudits from his teammates after another domineering display: “Kyle is the Peyton Manning of soccer, for me, as far as an experienced player [who's] very good at what he does,” said Johnson. “He keeps us connected, keeping us organized and that winning mentality.”

4) HOW DID THEY RATE? Solid displays all round for the USA? See how Greg Seltzer rated them. Elsewhere The New York Times had a different look and Yanks Abroad also gave their marks after the 5-1 thrashing. Check out this photo gallery from the Baltimore Sun to relive the big win.

5) YANKS SHOW THEIR METTLE: MLSsoccer.com senior writer Jeff Bradley focused on the determination and steel the US showed in the Gold Cup quarterfinal. El Salvador almost equalized just after halftime and it could’ve been a different outcome. But the US rolled their sleeves up and dug deep.

6) HONDURAS’ NAJAR IN STORYBOOK HOMECOMING: D.C. United’s star Academy product Andy Najar had a storybook return to the Washington/Baltimore metro area, as the Anderlecht player scored a sensational game-winner for Honduras against Costa Rica. Najar and Los Catrachos will now play the USA in the Gold Cup semifinal on Wednesday.

7) LATE SKC WINNER RATTLES SALT LAKE, JASON KREIS: 1-1 at the Rio Tinto with 96 minutes gone … Ike Opara rose highest to head home the winner and send Sporting KC crazy in the battle of MLS' two top teams. Sporting sealed a dramatic comeback win late on, but RSL head coach Jason Kreis wasn’t happy following a red card to Chris Wingert and other decisions from the ref: “He is going to be poor. It is his [16th] match of his entire career. To referee in a sold-out stadium, in a first-place versus second-place matchup is the wrong game.”

8) GALAXY KIDS END 'CAPS UNBEATEN STREAK: Gyasi Zardes and Jose Villarreal are fast becoming the best young attacking talents in MLS, and the duo showed exactly why on Saturday night in LA. The Galaxy beat Vancouver 2-1 with Zardes and Villarreal both on target to end the Whitecaps’ six-game unbeaten spree. Villarreal’s controversial equalizer was initially ruled offside, but the 'Caps didn’t have many complaints.

9) FOUR TIES IN TIGHT WEEKEND: It was draws galore in MLS this weekend, as three stalemates and an entertaining 1-1 tie between Seattle and Colorado played out. Toronto held New York as their defense continues to improve, while Philadelphia and Portland were delayed during their 0-0 as thunderstorms rolled through PPL Park. And Montreal and Dallas both put in good defensive displays at Stade Saputo.

10) ECUADORIAN DP TO CHICAGO?  Following Chicago’s impressive 4-1 demolition of D.C. United on Saturday, most of the talk was about a potential new signing. President of soccer operations, Javier Leon was outspoken on Sherjill MacDonald’s exit following the win and spoke about a potential new Ecuadorian forward: “In this particular case, I do believe that the profile of the player fits better our league.” While Chris Rolfe scored twice, Mike Magee bagged another and Joel Lindpere grabbed two assists. Do they really need another striker?

11) REVS BEAT COLUMBUS LATE: Two injury time goals from New England snatched a win at Columbus, as the Revs’ snapped a two game losing streak. José Gonçalves and Diego Fagundez scored late to break Columbus hearts and now the Crew have loss five of their last six. Jay Heaps left out regulars Fagundez, Lee Nguyen and Juan Toja and insited he plan to make a late charge: “That was exactly the game-plan. It never really works that way."

12) ‘PIONEER’ OF AMERICAN SOCCER PHIL WOOSNAM PASSES AWAY: The US soccer community was in mourning after former NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam sadly passed away on Friday night. He was 80 years old. MLS Commissioner Don Garber referred to Woosnam as “one of the pioneers of professional soccer in North America.”

13) RED BULLS WIN ANOTHER NATIONAL ACADEMY TITLE: The New York Red Bulls academy have won the U-17/U-18 national title, adding to the U-15/U-16 championship they won last year, while Real Salt Lake AZ won the U-15/U-16 title, giving MLS academies their second straight sweep of national titles. MLS kids getting it done.

14) HOW BIG CAN MLS GET? Brian Straus takes a look at the question must deliberated by soccer fans in the US, which cities will see MLS expansion? The SI.com writer breaks down just how big MLS could become and where potential new teams may pop up. Plenty of debate around this baby.

15) CHILD OF MLS: MICHAEL BRADLEY: Growing up in Major League Soccer and seeing your dad managing several successful franchises must have been pretty cool … we find exactly how awesome it was as Michael Bradley stars in the latest Episode of MLS Insider. He’s got the inside scoop on Bob and plenty more. And check out this feature on Colorado's Danny Mwanga, as well as a look at the dawn of NYC FC.

MLSsoccer.com Musts

El Salvador's Rodolfo Zelaya has MLS intentions. Does an MLS future await?

American Exports: Kljestan wins another Cup with Anderlecht

Sporting KC boss Peter Vermes on RSL win: "We put it to them."


Get the Kick-Off delivered to you!

Enter your email address and favorite team below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.