Monday, June 25, 2007

Gold Cup Final Recap

Sunday’s Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Mexico was actually a pretty important game despite the fact that fans wanting to watch it had to order a premium channel (Fox Sports Soccer Channel) or watch it on Univision in Spanish. The United States overcame a first half deficit and a noticeably pro-Mexican crowd at Soldier field to win 2-1 and ensure themselves a spot in the 2009 Confederations Cup.

A few thoughts and observations about the game:

  • It was evident almost immediately that Jonathan Spector was going to have a hard time marking Andres Guardado, Mexico’s speedy winger. After being burned repeatedly during the first half, it was his failure to mark the backside that led to Mexico’s goal just before the break.

  • After a miserable first half Brian Ching had a great turn with a defender on his back that led to a foul in the box and the penalty kick for Donovan.

  • Speaking of the penalty…I completely expected Donovan to be stoned by Mexican keeper Oswaldo Sanchez, who had been brilliant up to that point. In the past it seemed as though Landon lost that swagger and scoring instinct he displayed in the 2002 World Cup. He completely faked out Sanchez and proved me wrong.

  • Donovan’s goal was followed by the game winner by Benny Feilhaber. He took an attempted clearance from a corner out of the air and sent it dipping over the defense and inside the far post. It was a amazing strike, and it goes to prove that we need more players playing overseas (Feilhaber plays for Hamburg SV of the German Bundesliga).

  • It was great to finally see Donovan and Beasley playing well together (minus Beasley’s late choke job with the open net). It looks like we may be able to build a team around these two after all.

  • The outstanding play of Carlos Bocanegra should not go unnoticed. He was not only solid in his marking but he routinely made up for the mistakes made by the rest of the defense. This guy seems like he’s been around forever but he’s only 29.

  • Still no complaints about the job Bob Bradley is doing. Throughout the tournament he has mixed young talent with established veterans with considerable success. His attacking gameplan against Mexico was both refreshing and successful. The U.S. was a few fairly easy (in Beasley’s case painfully easy) finishes away from breaking this one wide open. It will be interesting to see what he does in the upcoming Copa America when he will be forced to use even more of his young and inexperienced players.

  • Lastly, just so you can get an idea of what this win means for the future, I wanted to explain what winning a spot in the Confederation Cup actually means. The tournament of eight is held every four years and is made up of the winners of each of the six FIFA confederation tournaments. The World Cup champion and host country are also guaranteed spots. The tournament is held in 2009, so this means we are guaranteed some amazing competition which will be perfect to prepare for the 2010 World Cup.


BigLots said...

I don't know about you Log but I was pretty surprised that we were able to come back and win after trailing at halftime. It seems like the national team just gives up and plays like crap when the other team scores first. Maybe it's a sign that they're ready to turn the corner. Also, about Copa America, I'm pretty dissapointed in the roster. I assumed it would be made up of mostly European based players since they aren't in season, however it is mostly young MLS players. I don't care how talented they might be, they're gonna get slaughtered by Argentina. It will be ugly to see what Messi does to that defense. Plus, if they somehow finish second in their group, then they will face Brazil. That could get ugly. And once again, the world will see us fail on the international stage. No one else cares about the Gold Cup.

HAUS said...

I am very impressed with the job Bob Bradley has done up to this point. The subbing of Ricrado Clark for Pablo Mastroeni at haltfime proved to be the ingenious spark that helped the US come back from the halftime defeceit i've rarely seen the US be able to do.

Buzzsaw said...

Soccer is soo gay

Bish said...

Biglots im with you that the roster was a little dissapointing at first glance however...

I dont think Bob Bradley is here to create a team which competes in the Copa America. Looking at the long term, by giving some younger players - who will be in their prime come World Cup time - a look against incredible competition, Bradley is able to see who is for real and who simply looks good because of the MLS. We know guys like Beasley, Donovan, Dempsey, Howard and the like can at least compete at this level so their absence is not that big of a deal.

Winning the Gold Cup was much more important as Logan said because it is the best way to prepare us for the World Cup. There was ABSOLUTELY no way teams like Brazil, Argentina, France ect. were going to schedule us for a friendly so close to the world cup. Without this tournament we would be preparing for the greatest tournament in the world by playing New Zeland, Mongolia and Thailand. The Gold Cup was also great preparation come World Cup qualifying because the players who will clearly be fighting for a spot - benny, spector, bradley - were able to get a taste of CONCACAF at its best. The referees and the style of play are completely different than they are in South America.

While our world ranking may not benefit because of the Copa America right away, a better showing at the world cup is MUCH more important than anything else.

BigLots said...

going point bish. i would have liked to see how we stack up against teams like argentina but i guess its more important to have our best squad at the world cup and the only way to do that is to give the young guys some experience.

Matt Jenks said...

All of the blame can't be laid on Bradley for the Copa America roster, though, can it? I thought several of our more veteran players opted out of the Copa America to have some time off between their European club seasons and our National Team seasons.

I was glad to see Bradley stick with Feilhaber in the second half after he kind of played like his head wasn't in the game. Obviously, that paid off big time for us. Also, I'm glad that Ching got some quality minutes. I was wholly unimpressed with Eddie Johnson throughout the tournament and thought that Ching and Twellman brought some serious offensive bonuses to the front line. I kept hearing about how great Johnson had been in MLS this season, but all of his shots seemed like something you'd see at a youth league game.

Just my thoughts. Excellent recap of the Gold Cup.

BigLots said...

Matt, I completely agree with you on Johnson. He's worthless. Every now and then he'll score but other than that he doesn't affect the game at all. Ching may not be as talented but at least he hustles and plays defense. However, neither of them are our answer for the world cup. If we are going to make any noise in 2010 then it's going to be Dempsey and Jozy Altidore up top. Assuming Dempsey gets his head out of his ass and Altidore continues to come along as expected.

Dr. Health said...

After a miserable first half Brian Ching had a great turn with a defender on his back that led to a foul in the box and the penalty kick for Donovan.