Jul 17, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT
Jurgen Klinsmann’s record-breaking side are on a roll.
But in the grand scheme of things, are people getting too excited about wins against minnows Belize, Cuba and Jamaica?
Some may argue you can only beat what’s put in front of you, and that’s true.
But it seems as if every four years or so, this same debate crops up as to how good the USA really are.
Simply put, we all know and acknowledge that the CONCACAF region is severely lagging behind in quality when you look at the likes of UEFA and CONMEBOL.
There’s no shame in admitting that. But it does provide the U.S. with a huge shock every time they reach the World Cup and come up against the world’s elite.
However Klinsmann’s tactic of playing top European nations in friendlies may bear fruit once the U.S. reach the World Cup in Brazil — come on, you’ve already booked your tickets and time off work next June, haven’t you? — next summer, and the fact that we’re already talking about the USMNT’s presence in that competition is a problem.
Hexagonal qualifying is what it is. Every time the U.S. compete in it, they suffer one bad loss or tie and blame it on the conditions and environment in a Caribbean or Central American nation. The rest of qualifying, especially the home games, are a piece of cake.
But this is where the current Gold Cup success comes into play. After three wins from three, the USA are clear favorites to win it.
The pressure and winning mentality placed on the shoulders of players who aren’t guaranteed a spot on the World Cup roster is making everyone get better. Fast. Guys like Chris Wondolowski, Kyle Beckerman and Joe Corona don’t want to watch the World Cup from their armchair. They are desperate to be there.
As Steve Davis pointed out in the things we learned from last night’s win over Costa Rica, time is running out for some national team players who are making desperate attempts to impress Klinsmann.
In turn, Nats regulars like Michael Bradley, Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey are seeing the desire of their teammates to win the Gold Cup this summer and that’s has to be lighting a fire in their belly. Competition for places has never been greater in the U.S. national team. I truly believe that. There’s a solid pool of 35 players who are up to the task of competing for minutes at the World Cup.
That is the real reason why they’ve won eight games in a row. You can point to some shaky displays here and there but they’re getting it done with so many different players and you can’t fault their effort and commitment, as they clamber to make sure they stay in Klinsi’s plans for Brazil 2014.
They’re hungry to succeed and don’t want to be the group of players who lose and are left out of the 23-man squad heading to South America.
Breaking a record is great. Eight straight wins for the first time in U.S. national team history is an amazing achievement.
But I’m extremely confident it’s only the start. And until CONCACAF catches up with the USA, expect plenty more streaks like this.
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