6 Positives To Take From Gold Cup Victory for U.S. Men’s National Team
U.S. Men’s National Team: 6 Positives to Take from Gold Cup Victory
The U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Panama 1-0 on Sunday to capture its first Gold Cup title since 2007. The team’s performance throughout the entire tournament was sublime, recording 20 goals for and only four goals against. Many positives can be taken from the team’s performance, and all of them are reassuring signs of this team’s future.
The championship game was very physical with Panama fighting for every ball. They defended well, but couldn’t keep the U.S. at bay for the whole game. A 70th minute goal from Brek Shea just seconds after coming on as a sub was enough for the Americans to secure victory.
Sporting a younger squad, the U.S. was hoping to gain some quality experience against some of its World Cup Qualifying opponents. These players did not disappoint, with many staking their claim to a world cup spot.
Nearly every player contributed to the success of the team throughout the tournament. Established players and fringe players alike were important in each game. The U.S. is used to tough battles against CONCACAF teams, and that experience greatly helped them to victory.
This team was expected to win the tournament, and they did so in style — a strong attacking performance was the key to victory, with the defense only having some momentary lapses on set-piece defending.
This team has a lot of potential going forward and it is important to keep in mind that this is considered a “B-squad.” Many of these players earned a chance to be on coming rosters for the U.S. and I believe that they will have a positive impact on the team.
When a team wins a tournament, their overall performance is critiqued. The overall performance of the U.S. was very impressive and other teams around the world would be wise to take notice. The following are only six of the many positives that can be taken from the performance of the U.S. in the Gold Cup. This team will have plenty of confidence in the coming months as they prepare for the World Cup.
Winning A Tournament
Finally, the U.S. have their first taste of silverware since winning the 2007 Gold Cup. It really lifts the whole squad when they come together and win as a team. Their loss to Mexico in 2011 was very disappointing and hurt the pride of the team, and this victory will be a huge boost of confidence for fans and players alike. Qualifying for the World Cup looks to be in the bag already, so hopefully they can begin to focus on Brazil in 2014.
Landon Donovan's Return
Landon Donovan's return to international soccer was a subject rife with skepticism. Donovan silenced any critics by putting in a stellar performance during the course of the tournament. His efforts were awarded with the Golden Ball, given to the tournament's best player. Donovan's excellent play will see him rejoin the other first team players as he looks to bring his experience and leadership with him.
Chris Wondolowski's performance
Chris Wondolowski went into the Gold Cup having scored only one international goal. He scored five goals in the tournament and was essential to the team's success in the early stages of group play. His knack for being in the right place at the right time is a joy to watch, and I would expect to see a lot of him in the future for the U.S.
Performance of Young Players
There were some younger players on the U.S. roster who put on eye-catching performances. Guys like Mix Diskerud and Joe Corona proved why they should be on the team with performances that transcended their age. With a new crop of youth performing well for the U.S., the future is bright.
Goalkeeper Nick Rimando started every game but one for the U.S. in the Gold Cup. A veteran MLS keeper, Rimando only gave up four goals in five games. He only recorded one clean sheet, but he made some vital saves to keep the U.S. in control of every game he played. Look for Rimando to be the third-choice keeper going into the World Cup.
Coach Jürgen Klinsmann validated himself as the U.S. coach with this tournament victory. It took him a while to get the team going, but now they are firing on all cylinders. His success is a large step forward for the organization as a whole as they look to compete with the world's best. Klinsmann gets the best out of all his players and has a magic touch with substitutes. With Klinsmann at the helm, I can honestly see the U.S. making a deep run in the World Cup.