10 U.S. Soccer Players With The Most To Prove During Gold Cup
10 U.S. Soccer Players With The Most To Prove During Gold Cup
The CONCACAF Gold Cup gets started next week for the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team. As expected, the roster of players chosen for the tournament by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is a far cry from the group that has won three consecutive games in World Cup Qualifying and has the Americans on the verge of solidifying a spot in the 2014 World Cup.
While Klinsmann chose a roster he hopes will be able to win the tournament, he’s also using the tournament as an opportunity to give chances to both older players who would like to return to the full national team and play in the World Cup next summer, as well as young players that are hoping to become permanent fixtures on the national team and possibly earn a roster spot for both the World Cup.
The blend of young and old players is an interesting one, especially since only a few of the players on the roster have been a part of the team’s recent success during qualifying, and even those players aren’t assured of a spot as we get closer to the World Cup. That means that aside from wanting to help the team win, each player has something to play for as an individual as well.
It’s safe to say that every player that takes the field for the U.S. during the Gold Cup will have more on his mind than just winning the game; they all have something to prove and they all want to help secure a future with the national team with their play. Here are 10 players for the U.S. that will have the most to prove:
Wondolowski has had no trouble scoring goals in MLS over the past few seasons, but he’s yet to score for the national team in 11 caps, and at age 30, time is running out to do so. It’s hard to understand why he’s getting another call up to the national team because he hasn’t been all that impressive in his previous call-ups, but there will always be a spot available for a player who can score goals, and that’s what Wondolowski has to do during the Gold Cup to make sure this isn’t his last time wearing red, white, and blue.
Right now, Rimando is penciled in as the third-string goalkeeper, which should earn him a trip to Brazil next summer. It also means he should see most, if not all, of the playing time in net during the Gold Cup, and he’ll have to earn his spot on the World Cup roster with his performance. If he struggles, Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid are waiting to take over and would love a chance to play for the U.S. in a competitive tournament, so Rimando needs to make sure he’s ready to go and prove that the U.S. can win meaningful games with him defending the goal.
More than anything, Holden needs to prove that he’s healthy and in form. He was with the team during their June schedule, but he didn’t play much. He definitely has a chance to make the World Cup roster next summer, and he certainly has the talent to make the team better, but he needs to prove that he’s the same player he was before his devastating injury in 2011. The Gold Cup is his opportunity to remind Jurgen Klinsmann what he can bring to the national team. Holden should be one of the most talented players in the entire tournament, and he needs to play like it in order to have a role on the full national team moving forward.
Goodson was on the U.S. roster during the 2010 World Cup, and he looks like he’ll be a part of the team next summer as well. But, he’s seen two younger players, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, take over the starting center back positions during the recent qualifiers, relegating him to the bench. He’s still a useful part of the national team, but he’s got work to do in order to earn his starting job back, and the Gold Cup is an opportunity for him to start doing that as he’ll be a key part of the U.S. defense throughout the tournament.
Torres has had a brief absence from the national team lineup and the team has started to play well without him, so the Gold Cup is his chance to remind Jurgen Klinsmann what he brings to the table. If he doesn’t play well in the Gold Cup, Klinsmann won’t look to give him any playing time during qualifying this fall, making it imperative for Torres to give the U.S. a quality performance in this tournament. He should be one of the best players on the U.S. team and a key in the midfield during the Gold Cup, but if he doesn’t prove that on the field, he’ll be on the outside looking in when it comes to the national team.
The U.S. back four is still unsettled, especially at right back, where injuries forced Jurgen Klinsmann to plug in stop gaps during the team’s five games in June. Therein lies the opportunity for Beltran, who can move up the depth chart at right back and truly challenge Timothy Chandler and Brad Evans for the position with a strong showing in the Gold Cup. Klinsmann isn’t going to take a chance on anybody he’s not sure about defensively once qualifying starts again, so this tournament is Beltran’s only chance if he wants to be brought onto the full squad between now and next summer.
Castillo will turn 27 this fall, so he’s not that young anymore. And if he wants to play in a World Cup, next year is his opportunity to do so. His play with the national team has been inconsistent, but Jurgen Klinsmann seems to like the skill set that he brings to the table, so he should continue to get opportunities and the Gold Cup is one of them. That being said, he’s further down the depth chart at left back than he’d like to be, and needs to start making up ground on DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson if he wants to continue getting called into the team for meaningful games.
Donovan has been away from the national team for a while, and he’ll need to earn his spot back if he expects to play in the World Cup next summer. To do that, he’ll need to score goals and be a team leader for the U.S. team during the Gold Cup. In a tournament like the Gold Cup, Donovan should be one of the best players on the field at all times, and he needs to go out and do just that.
Bedoya made the preliminary World Cup roster in 2010, but after being left off the roster in South Africa he’s failed to further solidify a spot with the national team. He’s shown some promising flashes, but has yet to really stand out in his 14 appearances with the U.S. He’s one of the players on the Gold Cup roster that can really excel in a tournament like this, but if he doesn’t find a way to stand out over the next couple of weeks, he’s bound to get lost in the shuffle in a crowded midfield, meaning he has a lot to prove during the Gold Cup.
Onyewu was a big part of the U.S. during the 2006 and 2010 World Cup cycles, but things haven’t gone well for him since not playing in the final two games of the 2010 World Cup. Surprisingly, Jurgen Klinsmann is giving him another chance in the Gold Cup, but it’s certain to be his last chance if he doesn’t play well. There are still some openings on the U.S. back line, and at age 31, this is Onyewu’s last chance to grab one before the World Cup.