The United States leads El Salvador 2-1 at halftime of their Gold Cup quarterfinal in Baltimore, MD, but the scoreboard does not represent just how much better the Americans have been. They have been absolutely fantastic and spent the opening 45 minutes battering La Selecta, but one late penalty gifted El Salvador a goal to bring the underdogs back into the match.
Clarence Goodson put the U.S. in front when a beautiful short corner kick play left him with a simple tap-in in the 21st minute. The play got Michael Parkhurst the ball 25 yards from goal and when El Salvador stepped forward, he hit a chip right onto the speeding Landon Donovan's chest. Donovan brought the ball down and crossed for Goodson, who was unmarked by a scrambling El Salvador defense and the Americans were 1-0 up.
Eight minutes later, Joe Corona added to the U.S. lead when he collected the ball 20 yards from goal, took a couple touches and fired home.
With two goals, all of the possession and all of the chances, it looked like the U.S. was on its way to an easy win. They had quieted the sell-out crowd of largely El Salvador fans and were on cruise control, but then they fell apart on one play.
Three defenders had a chance to stop Rodolfo Zelaya as he dribbled across the Americans' box, but all whiffed. The fourth man with a chance to stop him, DaMarcs Beasley, they stepped in front of hi and impeding his progress, drawing the referee's whistle for an El Salvador penalty.
All Zelaya had to do from there was convert, which he did, and it was a match again. The U.S. had an advantage, but not quite the 2-0 lead they had or even the four-goal lead they could could have had if it wasn't for a slew of good saves by Dagoberto Portillo.
Now the U.S. heads to the second half with the match in the balance. Who would have guessed it 10 minutes before the break?