Is U.S. Gold Cup Roster One That Can Win?
Earlier today, the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team announced its roster for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup. The players that head coach Jurgen Klinsmann selected offer a good blend of younger players getting a chance to prove themselves with the national team and older players looking to prolong their international careers.
But more important than the individual players on the roster, is whether or not this is a collection of players that can win the Gold Cup.
The Gold Cup isn’t the most competitive tournament in the world and outside of Mexico, there aren’t a lot of teams that can stand in the way of the U.S. winning the tournament. Just like the U.S., Mexico will bring a team to the Gold Cup that is far from its A-roster, but that doesn’t mean the tournament will be a cakewalk for the Americans.
Coming off three straight wins in World Cup Qualifying, Klinsmann and the U.S. will want to continue its dominance over CONCACAF, especially if they end up playing Mexico in the finals, which is how so many Gold Cups have ended in the past.
The strength of this roster is on the attack, as Klinsmann welcomes back Landon Donovan to the national team after he took a hiatus from soccer. Now that Donovan is starting to get his form back with the Los Angeles Galaxy, he will likely be the most dangerous offensive player in the tournament.
The U.S. will be getting plenty of speed up top from Herculez Gomez, who has been with the team but hasn’t played a lot during the current World Cup Qualifying campaign. There are also high hopes for Will Bruin and Jack McInerney, two of the top young strikers in MLS.
The midfield should be solid if unspectacular for the U.S., with Kyle Beckerman and Jose Torres being dependable veterans of the national team. There is hope but no guarantee that young middles Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud, and Joshua Gatt will be able to provide a spark for the U.S., although all have limited experience with the national team.
If there’s a wild card in the midfield, it’s Stuart Holden, who’s had a long road back to the national team after suffering a serious injury in 2011. If Holden is healthy and in shape, he’s talented enough to solidify the U.S. midfield and make the attack that much more formidable.
Defensively is where there are some questions for the states. DeMarcus Beasley has filled in well at left back during qualifying and Clarence Goodson should be reliable at center back during the Gold Cup, but outside of that, the back line is a bit of a mystery.
Edgar Castillo has not proven himself to be a consistent player, and there’s no telling if 31-year old Oguchi Onyewu can still play at the international level after a long absence from the national team. Youngsters Corey Ashe, Tony Beltran and Michael Orozco Fiscal are all promising and will get a chance with the national team, but it’s difficult to find four defenders on this roster that Klinsmann will be able to trust throughout the tournament.
The U.S. also lacks experience in goal, with Nick Rimando, Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson all trying to prove themselves worthy of being the third-string goalkeeper next summer. But will one of those three be dependable in net when the U.S. reaches the semi-finals and finals of a tournament like the Gold Cup?
On paper, this roster isn’t exactly overwhelming, but it should be enough to win the Gold Cup. If players like Donovan and Holden can play to their potential, the Americans should be able to score enough goals to advance to the late stage of the tournament. Then, it’ll be up to the defense to hold strong and the midfield to control the ball if the Americans expect to take back the Gold Cup trophy from Mexico.