It’s time for the US to start playing up to its full potential. The time for experimenting and messing around is over. It’s the knockout rounds where one slip up can send you home early. After an unconvincing group stage (not unlike the USWNT at the Women’s World Cup) the US has a chance to really prove that they are the kings of CONCACAF. The next step to proving it is a quarter final against Cuba.
There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that the US played poorly in the group stage, despite finishing first in Group A. So it came as no surprise that on Tuesday Klinsmann made three changes to the roster. He brought in Joe Corona, Alan Gordon and DeMarcus Beasley while sending Jozy Altidore, Alfredo Morales and Greg Garza back to their respective clubs. Klinsmann can make up to three more changes before the knockout rounds begin.
For the US, several players must get better to win this tournament. Michael Bradley has been ok but far from the dominant player we saw earlier this year against the Netherlands and Germany. Gyasi Zardes has had flashes of greatness (his assist to Dempsey against Haiti), but nothing consistent. Timmy Chandler has left fans absolutely terrified every time he touches the ball. Really the only players for the US who have played really well are Clint Dempsey and Brad Guzan. With the changes made to the roster for the knockout rounds, the US should play with a lot more confidence and can hopefully avoid the dreadful starts that have plagued them so far this tournament.
Cuba got through to the knockout rounds by the skin of their teeth. They finished third in Group C, despite scoring just once and having a -7 goal differential. Not only that, but there have been the usual player defections. Wednesday night’s win over Guatemala was just their second this year (the other was a friendly win over Dominican Republic in March). The man to watch for Cuba is Maikel Reyes who scored Cuba’s only goal of the tournament thus far.
Two years ago the US played their quarter final game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
John Brooks received his second caution of the tournament against Panama on Monday and will miss the quarter final.
Cuba has made it to the knockout rounds of the Gold Cup for the second straight tournament.
M&T Bank Stadium
USA leads 8-1-1
Rio Tinto Stadium
4 USA Cuba 1
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