Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gold Cup Preview/Review

I had promised House that I would write something about the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and even though I think he will be the only one who reads it, I keep my promises so here it is.

I know most people think the Gold Cup is a bunch of meaningless games leading up to U.S.-Mexico, but can be a showcase for some good soccer from up and coming nations. This years group features Canada, Costa Rica, Guadaloupe, Haiti (all in Group A), USA, El Salvador, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago (Group B), Panama Honduras, Mexico and Cuba (Group C).

While Mexico and the United States are always the favorites and the only teams ranked in FIFA's top 50 (20 & 29 respectively), this year has already provided some good upsets. Take for example the tiny French overseas department Guadaloupe. Making their first ever appearance in the tournament they shocked Canada and followed the victory with a draw with Haiti, and now have good chance to make the quarterfinals. Even the usually strong Mexico squad was not immune to an upset, falling to Honduras 2-1. Group C has proven the most intriguing, with everything coming down to the last two games on Wednesday night.

But what about the U.S.? Bob Bradley has compiled a roster of 11 overseas players and 10 domestic players, 10 of whom have less than 10 caps. There are familiar faces such as Landon Donovan, Beasley, Dempsey, Keller and even Tim Howard. But even more exciting are the newcomers looking to prove themselves. No one is more exciting than 19 yr old midfielder Michael Bradley (yes he is the coach's son), who had a pretty uneventful performance as a sub against Trinidad, but should be a treat to watch in the future. (Here's a good article about him, even though its kind of old.)

The U.S. beat Guatemala 1-0 and Tridad & Tobago 2-0 in a lackluster performance, although they are the only team who have yet to allow a goal. The MNT takes on El Salavdor tonight at 7 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel, needing a win or draw to secure first place in Group C.

I know the Gold Cup has mediocre competition but it is still good quality soccer and an opportunity to see how some new faces perform with some of the fixtures in U.S. soccer. And don't worry, we will be playing some tough teams in the coming months. Our group draw for the Copa America (starts right after the Gold Cup) includes Argentina, Colombia, and Paraguay. After that the team travels to Europe for friendlies against the likes of Sweden and Switzerland.


BigLots said...

Since I've watched the first two games with House I figured I should comment. The U.S. has clearly been the dominant side in the first couple games which was expected. However, they look sloppy as hell and the finishing is awful. This is the same problem they have had for the last ten years or so. They dominate the crappy CONCACAF teams and they get used to being faster and more physical than their opponents. However, then they match up with a strong European side or South American side and they don't know how to play because for once they can't rely completely on talent. They've been completely overrated since they somehow made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2002 (which was incredibly lucky in my opinion). My suggestion is either to set up high quality friendlies against the best teams in the world or mandate that all national team players must play in Europe.

HAUS said...

I agree that we should be scheduling friendlies against the upper echelon of soccer, but I think we are beginning to turn the corner. We are finally playing in the Copa America for the first time in a decade and are playing European sides abroad (Demark in January and upcoming Switzerland/Sweden). So far the performance in the Gold Cup has agreed been lackluster with the team not finishing off the weeker opponents in Guatemala and a very meager T&T team, letting them linger around with hopes of a draw. However, the bottom line is we have not given up a goal and are getting the results in the end. The real tests will come soon when we may be seeing Mexico in the quarterfinals if they finish 2nd in their group (they are tied for 2nd currently with tonights match remaining). THe US must become sharper and finish more opportunites against the upcoming oppoenents if they expect to rise up the world rankings and get the respect they think they deserve. I am confident that this can and will happen however as I am a die-hard US soccer optomist. I can't wait to see how we do in the strong field of the COpa America, although dissapointingly, how strong our linup will be is yet to be seen on June 21st...rumor has it we will be fielding a younger and less experienced team, hopefully not to just save our asses for if we get our shit packed in by the likes of Argentina (US's opening match) and and Brazil, we then would have a so-called excuse for the embarassment. Look forward to more articles throughout this important summer for US Soccer Log. (Even though no one else really cares)

Buzzsaw said...

Come On Noone Cares About Crappy Ass Football .. I just made that up, impressed?? It's the first time I've ever used the term "football" for soccer, too.

Logan said...

Great posts by Biglots and House (and Denny too). However I think Biglots is too negative and House is a little too optimistic.

Biglots: Its not surprising that they have looked sloppy so far. There are a lot of new faces playing and Bradley has only been the coach for 7 games. They are working to set up the high quality friendlies you speak of, but also will have the opportunity to play Italy and the winner of Euro 2008 in the Confederations Cup if they win the Gold Cup. As far as requiring that all players play in Europe, this will never happen, nor should it. It would burn bridges with the MLS as well as stunt the growth of a league that is up and coming and provides the MNT with quality players. Players should be encouraged to play abroad if there is interest in them (cough, Donovan), but they should not be forced to.

House: I'm not sure that there is evidence we are turning the corner just yet. We are currently the dominant team in a region that is not of the highest quality. That domination has provided us with the opportunity to arrange better games in tournaments like Copa America and better friendlies, but how we do in those games will show if we are turning the corner or not.

Buzzsaw said...

In terms of alternative acronyms for CONCACAF .. my post wins hands down

HAUS said...

last night's game was so frustrating to watch... we better man up and stop playing like grade schoolers and finish our opportunities or we're going home early

HAUS said...

some good news, The US MNT moved up to 16th in the fifa rankings and the neighbors we shit on to the south dropped out of the top 20 to 26th...and even though some believe the fifa rankings are still awry, (they restructured the system last summer) the new rankings have appeared pretty accurate the past year

Health Blog said...

They've been completely overrated since they somehow made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2002.

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