Closing Thoughts for Gold Cup
This was the second straight Gold Cup title for the Americans and, in many ways, this one was sweeter than 2005. First, rather than needing penalties against Panama to take the title, the US knocked off their biggest rival for CONCACAF in the Final, coming back from a goal down. Second, the United States posted a perfect 6-0 record throughout the tournament notching 13 goals (from 9 different players!) while conceding only 3 goals. By modern standards in world football tournaments, the US did not really struggle to win this thing. Sure they caught a major break against Canada and needed to come from behind against Mexico, but nowadays, who wins a tournament or even advances to the final (other than the ’02 Brazilians who were awesome and feasted on a weak tournament field), without a break or two along the way (i.e. Italy’s controversial penalty against the Aussies and come-from-behind effort against France in the Final last summer). From start to finish, the US was the best team in the 2007 Gold Cup and deserved the title more than any other team in the field.
1. Bob Bradley passed his first test as US National Team manager.
2. The US is one step closer to leaving Mexico completely behind and establishing themselves as the dominate force in CONCACAF.
3. The US displayed a lot of strength in depth throughout the tournament
4. The US clearly has not taken any steps BACK in the last few years (like some people seemed to believe after Germany)
4A. Same for Damarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan
5. Tim Howard is ready to be the #1
6. Benny Feilhaber is quickly maturing into a legitimate playmaker in the classic #8 fashion and packs a repertoire that includes deft touch, an astute tactical sense, and the ability to make match-winning plays.
7. Ricardo Clark may be the two-way mid we’ve been searching for.
8. With Frank Simek, Jonathan Spector, and Steve Cherundolo, right back should not be a problem for the US in the near future.
1. Bob Bradley has bigger, more important challenges forthcoming (2010).
2. The US may have another formidable CONCACAF rival in Canada (the leafs got robbed; who knows what would have happened if that goal was allowed to stand).
3. While the US showed depth, there are still some positions where they are far from secure (i.e. up front, left back, right mid).
3A. Up top: Ching looks serviceable enough to keep the seat warm for (hopefully) Jozy, Davies, Ferrari, or whoever. Johnson and Twellman remain unconvincing.
3B. Left back: Bornstein has a long way to go (particularly defensively). There’s also Spector and Pearce (I hope to get a better idea in Copa as Bradley will get a look at Pearce and Bornstein against perennial South American powerhouses).
3C. Right mid: answering the question up front will help a lot here, as will a stellar Copa performance by Sacha Kljestan. (If the World Cup started tomorrow, I’d like Ching-Donovan up top with Dempsey at wide right mid.)
4. Based on last summer’s performance in Germany and only wins against CONCACAF foes this summer, the US has not evidently taken any big steps FORWARD in the last few years either.
4A. Based on that stated above and performance in MLS/spotted playing time with Manchester City, same for Landon Donovan and Damarcus Beasley.
5. Unfortunately, after a shaky semi-final performance against Canada, it seems Keller’s days may have passed (or at least they probably will within the next few years).
6. Pablo Mastroeni seems to have lost a step and looked fatigue early in a few games, none more so than in the Final. His best days with National Team have passed.
7. Feilhaber-Clark? Feilhaber-Bradley? Clark-Bradley? What’s the best central midfield in the near future?
8. Is Bocanegra the answer for captain? If not, who?