Jul 28, 2013, 7:25 PM EST
- It’s a final, and we know what those look like
The Gold Cup may be only a “tournament-lite” in that the regional big boys chose to send the junior varsity. But the rule on finals – teams get tight and the action bogs down, generally producing matches that are decidedly, well, less than lovely – still applies in lesser tournament. And how.
Sunday’s 1-0 U.S. win at Soldier Field looked nothing like Wednesday’s mostly wide-open semifinal win over Honduras.
A championship is a championship, and good on the United States, clearly the Gold Cup’s top team. But as aesthetics go … well, no need to save this on the DVR.
- Jurgen Klinsmann (and staff!) keeps making great decisions
One week ago, Eddie Johnson scored 14 seconds after coming onto the field against El Salvador. Check the box on “Great sub!” with that one.
Sunday in Chicago, Brek Shea need a bit longer – just over 40 seconds. Check that box again.
I mean, this kind of prescience would scare the bejeebers out of Las Vegas!
In the bigger picture, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann seems to have the Midas touch with his choices. Brek Shea (pictured) was a late Gold Cup roster addition; he scored two goals. (Yes, one was tap-in … but being in the right places counts for something, and Shea’s straight-line approach to opposition goal paid off twice.)
Adding Matt Besler and Eddie Johnson for the elimination matches looks smart, given the results. Hard to argue that Clarence Goodson over Omar Gonzalez in Sunday’s lineup was the right choice given the result. And Gonzalez’s insertion late at Soldier Field proved worthwhile as the big Galaxy center back thumped away several of Panama’s late probing balls of desperation.
The bigger-picture choices on guys like Landon Donovan and Stuart Holden seem validated, too. (Fingers crossed for Holden, of course.) But there will be more time to discuss that. Back to Sunday …
- Kyle Beckerman does his job
I know it’s not enough for some people, who continue to want the Real Salt Lake man to be more, do more, try more, etc.
But that positional discipline, that ability to win the ball, win tackles, distribute simply and wait for the next chance to do it all again … all that stuff is so critical in a match like Sunday’s, when less disciplined men might grow impatient and wander too far forward. That is exactly what Panama wanted, to defend and defend and hope to catch the United States leaning too far into the attack.
Teams need balance and Beckerman provides a bunch of it. No, he’s not about to displace Michael Bradley or even Jermaine Jones on coming World Cup qualifier rosters. But for depth in the pool, Beckerman as a holding midfield specialist provides essential value.
- Michael Parkhurst is solid defensively, but …
I was surprised at the apparent surprise that Michael Parkhurst lacked initiative in pushing up the right and overlapping Sunday, unable to create that critical defensive confusion while working in tandem with Alejandro Bedoya.
Because he’s just not that guy. Don’t we know that? When he can barely dent the game against the small fries of the tournament (on offense, that is), do we really believe he is going to unleash some secret, here-to unseen attacking arsenal against what was clearly the second best team at the Gold Cup?
Parkhurst is what he is: a converted center back who is adequate at defense chores along the right, although vulnerable to faster feet.
- Eddie Johnson still has some volatility about him
U.S. striker Eddie Johnson has a lot going for him right now. He’s third-ish on the pecking order of U.S. strikers. (The top choice for a Gold Cup final but still behind Jozy Altidore and probably Herculez Gomez in Jurgen Klinsmann’s big board of options.)
He’s a valued member of the Seattle Sounders club, about to be out of contract and highly desirous of remaining with the club that helped him resurrect a wayward career. Clearly, he wants to find his way into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, having played in 2006 but then bypassed for 2010. All that is to say, he is highly motivated.
So wouldn’t it be ashamed if Johnson let’s a dangerous propensity for losing his cool get the better of him. There’s just a lurking volatility about him, one that could be harmful to a team in an instant. We saw it again late Sunday when he got into a completely unnecessary set-do, issued a yellow card for retaliation indiscipline.
Don’t think future opponents won’t take notice and target Johnson as a man to pick on, to potentially incite. That’s not what you pinned on the opposition corkboard.
- Jose Torres’ stock is falling
Coming into this year’s Gold Cup, wouldn’t we all identify Jose Torres as the creative man of the moment, the guy to slice up defenses with those killer, targeted back line beaters?
Well, Sunday’s match was begging for such a guy – and Torres was nowhere to be found. Time and again in the tournament Torres did OK, but not much better than that. What we know about Klinsmann is that he is absolutely, positively not OK with just OK.
The proof was there Sunday. Joe Corona and Alejandro Bedoya got the starts. Brek Shea got the call off the bench when Corona was proving less than effective.
None of this is great news for Torres, but you cannot say the man didn’t get his chances.
Dec 19, 2013, 9:01 AM EST
Go ahead and cross Andres Iniesta’s name off your club’s holiday wish-list.
Dec 19, 2013, 8:20 AM EST
“This is very bad for the team but there are a lot of players who want to play,” Dzeko said.
Dec 18, 2013, 11:39 PM EST
Chelsea has a problem. They must. The solution, however, is harder to find.
Dec 18, 2013, 9:56 PM EST
Two games or one? Arsenal’s going to make the case for the lighter punishment, according to Wednesday’s reports.
Dec 18, 2013, 8:51 PM EST
Donovan’s goal may have been the favorite, but Wambach’s goal won U.S. Soccer’s tournament.
Dec 18, 2013, 7:57 PM EST
You need this to keep up – because this has been a period of managerial transition like none other in Major League Soccer:
Dec 18, 2013, 7:05 PM EST
He gets a mulligan on a 2013 that went all kinds of wrong:
Dec 18, 2013, 6:09 PM EST
City, United are on opposite sides of the bracket for January’s semifinals.
Dec 18, 2013, 5:30 PM EST
A rocket from Ashley Young broke a second half stalemate and moved the Red Devils into the League Cup’s last four.
Dec 18, 2013, 4:59 PM EST
Tim Sherwood’s debut as caretaker for Spurs ends in disappointment as West Ham come back at White Hate Lane.
Dec 18, 2013, 4:35 PM EST
A late penalty kick sends the host nation’s representatives on to face Bayern Munich.
Dec 18, 2013, 4:04 PM EST
The former league MVP may get a second go in his hometown:
Dec 18, 2013, 3:28 PM EST
Coming off that awful season, United makes the New York Red Bulls’ striker the first pick of Wednesday’s Stage Two Re-entry draft:
Dec 18, 2013, 2:50 PM EST
If Brek Shea cannot get into Mark Hughes’ lineup or on his bench for the this competition … :
Dec 18, 2013, 2:31 PM EST
Saints’ hot-headed striker in hot water, after sideline scuffle brings FA charge his way:
Dec 18, 2013, 2:10 PM EST
An in-depth look at the land-locked region where intense rivalries burn brightly, while industry, fandom and history unite:
Dec 18, 2013, 12:15 PM EST
With a massive opportunity to impress, here’s how Spurs’ interim boss can stick around:
Dec 18, 2013, 11:03 AM EST
Impact hand reigns to ex-Chicago Fire boss, as Klopas signs three-year deal:
Dec 18, 2013, 10:35 AM EST
Top Spanish sides investigated as “irregular public funding” is alleged by EU. Do new Financial Fair Play rules have anything to do with this?
Dec 18, 2013, 10:00 AM EST
After another defeat, the ‘Special One’ bemoans Chelsea’s lack of ruthlessness:
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- Young’s blast, Evra’s insurance see Manchester United into League Cup semifinals 0
- Late Jarvis, Maiga goals see West Ham past Tottenham, into League Cup semifinals 0
- Welcome to the Midlands: A trip to the heartland of English soccer 1
- Frank Klopas named Montreal Impact head coach 2
- Real Madrid, Barcelona under investigation from EU 2
- Tottenham is using blood spinning treatment on its players, and nobody seems to know if it’s doping (12)
- Report: Clint Dempsey will join Fulham on Jan. 1 for two-month loan (11)
- Spurs in hunt for new boss after sacking Andre Villas-Boas (10)
- MLS announces Bayern Munich as opponent for 2014 All-Star Game in Portland (7)
- Intel’s giving Barcelona $25 million for a kit sponsorship you may never see (7)
- Hodgson's Manaus Plan is Flawed
- Wilmer Cabrera on WC Draw: ''It's an Even Group''
- Germany Building Training Facility in Brazil
- Spain Thinking of US Camp Before World Cup
- Don't count out Chile in WC Group B
- Kicking it Off with a Final
- VIDEO: Visa World Cup Promo
- Aurelien Collin: I Think France is Very Very Happy
- Klinsmann Shouldn't Have Been Re-signed Before WC
- You Can't Beat German Sachlichkeit