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Archive for the ‘Gold Cup’ Category

Despite being stretched for the full 120 minutes, the US was able to qualify for a semi final date with Honduras thanks to an extra time penalty from Kenny Cooper. A few quick thoughts from the game and on the Thursday night semi-final against Honduras in Chicago…

Stuart Holden has continued to establish himself as the integral offensive cog for this iteration of the national team. Feeding Kenny Cooper on the play that drew the penalty, letting the ball run past him on the Beckerman equalizer, and sliding just wide on a beautiful give and go mid-way through the 2nd half.

Davy Arnaud impressed me greatly as well and it was unfortunate that he came off. Not sure I believe in the Cooper/Ching pairing as they are very similar players. If BB wants two strikers, one should be in the Arnaud/Davies mold…smaller, faster, more comfortable with the ball at his feet. Ching and Cooper’s strength is not feeding other players to provide much service to eachother.

Kyle Beckerman has been invaluable throughout this tournament as well, making his way from box to box, distributing the ball well and coming up with a huge/timely equalizer last night as well. Whether there is room for him on the ‘A’ team is yet to be seen but he has put in a good showing for himself so far.

I thought Jimmy Conrad played a superb first half and despite being beat in the air for the Panama goal, Clarence Goodson filled in admirably for the 2nd half really doing everything he could to limit their chances. If Conrad’s concussion is serious though, he will be missed for the duration of this tournament.

Heath Pearce looks good coming forward out of the left back role and should cement himself within the ‘A’ team. I do prefer having Bocanegra out there but Pearce has shown that he can provide a solid backup/secondary option.

Moving into the semi-finals it remains to be seen if BB chooses to pull from his extended pool of players. I can’t seem to find who that pool includes but BB has hinted that he is going to go with what he has here. Not sure this is the best option as winning the Gold Cup could go a long way in establishing World Cup seeding, as Greg Lalas explains here.

BB has done a great job of getting 80+ players capped during his 3 year tenure as the the USMNT coach and he has continued during the early stages here. At this point though, he needs to focus on winning this tournament and therefore putting the best possible team out there. As admirable as it would be win this tournament with a team that is basically a ‘B’ team, there are no points awarded for level of difficulty.

The key cogs in the group stage 2-0 win over Honduras, Davies and Feilhaber, are with their club teams in Europe now and are tehrefore unavailable for the upcoming semi-final. Who is going to step up in order for the US to win is the question for the next 4 days….

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The US is through to the elimination round, expectedly.

Feilhaber, Davies, Adu, Cherundolo, and Parkhurst are back in Europe as the shortest offseason imaginable comes to a conclusion.
Jozy Altidore seems to be in Florida with his family while his club future is being determined.
So let’s take a look at where the US goes from here (hopefully) and how…
Panama has had a pretty good showing in Gold Cup v2009 thus far and an absolute thrashing of Nicaragua has put them through to the quarter finals.
The US could struggle with out Feilhaber and Davies who proved to the shot needed against Honduras. However, I like what Stuart Holden and Kyle Beckerman have shown thus far, two stars of the tournament for the US.
Robbie Rogers has pace that can be dangerous but I get frustrated when pace alone is considered dangerous. Pushing the ball forward and trying to run by your man is predictable from about minute 10 on and often leads to loss of possession. It might work against some lesser teams but these opponents are nothing if not athletic. The players who have pace and are dangerous, are those who are unpredictable with it and keep the defenders guessing about which way they’ll go, which foot will be used, what the player is thinking, etc. Personally, I haven’t seen RR exhibit any of the necessary skill to go along with his pace to make him an international threat.
Stuart Holden on the other hand has been calm on the ball, shown excellent balance, has done a great job of finishing and distributing. There have been calls for Rogers to get a nod next summer but I think BB would be making a grand mistake to leave Holden home.
The next few games come down to him and beckerman continuing their coordination in the middle. They also need Santino Quaranta, one of the feel good stories of the tournament, to continue his playmaking. He is dangerous from the outside, confident with the ball and not afraid to think creatively. His finishing is also quite good and he is once again putting himself in the top tier of American players.
If they can get by Panama I hope you see BB pick up some more of that extended roster he was granted so generously by CONCACAF.
See it tomorrow night, 8 PM on FSC.

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To be honest…

A) I don’t know much about the squad picks

and

Q) I am about to eat dinner at the beach and am trying to do this on my mom’s iPhone

so

B) a few quick things to watch for…

– Freddy Adu – assuming he gets the proverbial keys to the offense, can he engineer a US run? If so, his role with the nat’l team should increase. A good enough performance could also see his European/club stock rise as well.

– Defensive Midfield – a position that is by no means set for the “a” team.

– Left Back – is BB happy with Bocanegra back there? Even if he is tho, you always need a solid plan b.

– Charlie Davies – can he build on his confed cup success and cement his place with the team moving into the final stage of qualification.

That’s all there is time for and all I know…

Happy 4th

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Just a quick heads up on the USMNT’s schedule for the Gold Cup…

  • Saturday 7/4 @ 9 PM EST v Grenada (Qwest Field – Seattle)
  • Wednesday 7/8 @ 9 PM EST v Honduras (Soldier Field – Chicago)
  • Saturday 7/11 @ 7 PM EST v Haiti (Gillette Stadium – Foxboro)
All US games will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel and TeleFutura
Good news out of CONCACAF today; any team participating in the Confed cup and the Gold Cup in the same year can have a pool of 30 players for the entire tournament. It used to be that the pool was 23 with only 18 allowed on the field + bench for each game but now its a pool of 30 with 18 of those chosen for the field + bench for each game. Make sense?
Stay tuned for a Gold Cup “preview” tomorrow PM….

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