Obviously winning the Gold Cup is a wonderful achievement for the United States national team. However some lingering questions remain in my mind about the future of the national team. While Landon Donovan once again showed his quality and class when he decides he really wants to play the game (instead of hanging out on the beach or at some Hollywood party) I remain unconvinced about many of our other key players. DeMarcus Beasley was our second best attacking player in this cup, but his miss at the end of the final will probably be the lasting moment of the tournament for him in many eyes. Also, his first touch in many cases seemed to be poor and sometime he made some very bad decisions with the ball. Nonetheless, Beasley had a solid Gold Cup and will always be an automatic pick for any USA “A” match. Clint Dempsey was playing out of position the whole tournament but played well until his final touch it seemed. Still Dempsey’s role on the national team is secure, but where he will play remains in doubt.
Taylor Twellman may be the best attacking player ever in Major League Soccer. He also cannot hack it on the international level. For five years Twellman has failed to deliver when it mattered and even though I remain a fan of his in MLS, I think Bob Bradley has to move on from him. Eddie Johnson remains young, but his decision making is very worrying both on and off the ball. Brian Ching posses some genuine skill but maybe more equipped to play right behind a pure striker in the lineup.
I was pleased with the skill both Ricardo Clark and Benny Feilhaber showed in this competition both on and off the ball. Clark seems to know his role and picks his spots to go forward. His positioning is impeccable even if his touches are somewhat suspect. Feilhaber, is a blossoming star who could be the best American player of the next generation.
Michael Bradley had a solid Gold Cup and hopefully will do well in the U-20 World Cup. Pablo Mastroeni continues to be rock but has to become less reckless with his challenges. Pablo has developed a reputation as a bit of thug, and referees throughout the world seem to be giving him less rope than most other players.
The backline still scares me. Jonathan Spector seems to be more comfortable inside, but the lack of capable man markers has forced him outside. Frankie Hedjuk is savvy but still gets himself booked way too often. Jonathan Bornstein is a genuine threat going forward but is often poorly positioned as a man marker. Frank Simek is young, and developing but isn’t quite there yet. Jay DeMerit is solid but unspectacular. Michael Parkhurst is always well positioned but seems to have trouble distributing from the back. That leaves Oguchi Onyewu “Gooch” and Carlos Bocanegra who after shaky starts showed their veteran leadership and closed the deal against Mexico with impeccable positioning, mental toughness and outstanding leadership. No wonder the Mexican fans hate them both so much!