Following Mexico’s 2-0 victory over Brazil last night (a match I had to endure with Mexican fans at a local watering hole) it is obvious that teams like the USA and Brazil who are sending essentially U-23 teams (or in the USA’s case a U-25 team with just a few exceptions) aren’t serious contenders to win Copa America. So what do we need the US National Team to accomplish at the event if they are not going to be serious title chasers?
1- The central midfield combination of Benny Feilhaber and Ricardo Clark had as much to do with the USA’s Gold Cup title as anything. They are both on the Copa roster and can continue to hone their partnership in the middle.
2- Herculez Gomez and Kyle Beckerman were rewarded for excellent MLS form with long overdue national team call ups. Given the poor finishing of the US forwards, both have a chance to cement a spot in the player pool.
3- Can Taylor Twellman and Eddie Johnson snap out of their national team funk?
4- Should Heath Pearce start over Jonathan Bornstein at left back?
5- Will Jay DeMerit and Jimmy Conrad form an effective central defensive partnership?
6- It’ll be interesting to see if Eddie Gaven has any sort of national team future. Much like Freddy Adu he has grown much slower than expected, and I would personally like to see him play in all three group games just so we know if he can hack it.
7- Does Ben Olsen still have a national team future? I believe he does, because a utility player like Olsen who can play anywhere in midfield is always useful in WC qualifying.
8- I’m hoping Danny Califf proves his excellent form since moving abroad isn’t a fluke. Califf never seemed to really develop in MLS with the Galaxy but has played superbly since moving to Denmark. Unfortunately moving abroad meant he fell off of Bruce Arena’s radar.
9- Most importantly I hope following the Gold Cup Championship we don’t embarrass ourselves in the Copa America under the strain