Before playing El Salvador in the CONCACAF quarterfinals at M&T; Bank Stadium, U.S. midfielder Mix Diskerud had some painful memories of last summer's 3-3 tie with the Central American team in the Under-23 Olympic qualifying team.
The tying goal came four minutes into added time and cost the U.S. a spot in the London Games.
Diskerud, playing with the U.S. national team this year for the first time, said after Sunday's 5-1 win that he still thinks about last summer's game. It doesn't help that a teammate from his club team in Norway, Jaime Alas, constantly sends him a reminder.
"You have it in the back of your head, but I have a teammate, Jaime Alas, the guy who scored the game-tying goal, and he shows me a clip on YouTube every week just to remind me," said Diskerud, who scored a goal Sunday. "So I'm going to send him a text tonight."
The game last year was part of captain DaMarcus Beasley's message to his teammates.
"We actually did talk about the under-23 game, because a lot of our players played that game," Beasley said. "We wanted to send a message out to them that they got one on us that day, but today, it was a different story. We wanted to implement our game from the start."
Joe Corona, who was also a member of that under-23 U.S. team, said that "it took me awhile to get over that game" but that moving up to the national team under coach Jurgen Klinsmann has helped.
Corona scored for the second time in the Gold Cup to improve his chances of playing for the 2014 U.S. World Cup team in Brazil.
"That's a dream I have," he said.
Goodson scores in return home
Though U.S. defender Clarence Goodson grew up a Redskins fan, playing in M&T; Bank Stadium on Sunday felt like home.
In front of his parents, sister, wife, daughter and friends, the Springfield, Va., native and former Maryland star scored the game's first goal in the 21st minute of the United States victory.
"It was certainly a big goal for me doing it in front of my friends and family," Goodson said. "But any goal you score for the national team is a big deal and a big honor."
Goodson's goal came only six minutes after he received the United States' only yellow card on the afternoon.
El Salvador's Rodolfo Antonio Zelaya was leading a counterattack in the 15th minute, and Goodson brought him down to prevent him from scoring. About five minutes later, the Americans were back on the attack and had its second corner kick of the game.
After Jose Torres passed it to Landon Donovan off a short set kick, Donovan passed it to Michael Parkhurst, who then found Donovan on a through ball. From there, Goodson made the most of the opportunity.
"They were just zoning, so we were trying to get them mixed up a little bit," Goodson said. "Landon was able to cut it back to me at the right place at the right time."
The goal was Goodson's fifth in international play and his third in Gold Cup action. He has scored in each Gold Cup since 2009.
Baltimore atmosphere 'beyond expectations'
After a 16-year absence, the U.S. team made its return to Baltimore. The last game was a friendly against Ecuador at Memorial Stadium.
In what was a sellout at M&T; Bank Stadium, CONCACAF general secretary Enrique Sanz thought its decision to come to Charm City was a big success.
"We thought there was an opportunity there. There is a soccer community that we believed at the time we were making the decision would engage into this, and they did," Sanz said. "The atmosphere was beyond expectations. Here was a full crowd cheering, and that gets the game going. It was great. We were very satisfied."
As of Tuesday morning, 26,000 tickets had been sold for Sunday's games. About 72 hours later, CONCACAF announced the sellout. What does that mean for possible Gold Cup matches in the future in Baltimore? Sanz said the city will "absolutely" be considered, possibly for a semifinal or final.
"What we do is we go into a bidding process with the cities that are interested, and we're trying to establish the Gold Cup as a bigger event," he said. "Definitely our experience right now has been very, very good. From the stadium, to the city and the fans, across the board, it has been an amazing atmosphere."
Beasley echoed Sanz's praise of Baltimore as its host city.
"The crowd was unbelievable. To play in front of these many people, you couldn't hear," Beasley said. "The fans were crazy, and that's what you want in a quarterfinal match."
His one complaint?
"It was hot," Beasley said. "I was happy the rain came."
Andy Najar of Alexandria, Va., scored the game-winner as Honduras topped Costa Rica, 1-0, in Sunday's second Gold Cup quarterfinal at M&T; Bank Stadium. In the 49th minute, Najar, who used to play for D.C. United, placed a diving header to the left side that Costa Rica goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton had no chance of stopping. ... Former Maryland player Rodney Wallace did not play for Costa Rica against Honduras after he started two of the team's previous three Gold Cup games.