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Top five takeaways as USA clinch Gold Cup in style

Jul 29, 2013, 8:54 AM EDT

Championship - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Getty Images

The morning after the night before.

As the dust settles on the US national teams swashbuckling Gold Cup success, there were certainly plenty of top moments to treasure for Jurgen Klinsmann, his players and fans of the USA.

Clinching a fifth Gold Cup title against Panama in Chicago on Sunday amid jubilant scenes, it was clear for everyone to see how much this one meant.

With six straight wins in the tournament, the US proved they can conquer CONCACAF. Now they have to take this form into the final few rounds of World Cup qualifying, and hopefully onto Brazil.

But without further delay, let’s reminisce about the good times times the Gold Cup has given the Yanks this July.

Here we go…

1. The return of Landon

Perhaps the best memory US fans will take from this tournament is seeing Landon Donovan back to his domineering best. The LA Galaxy forward had been out of the US national team picture for almost a year, but seven goals and seven assists and a Gold Cup MVP award later, it’s like he was never gone. And now, the 31-year-old is even better. Klinsmann has already stated that LD is likely to be involved in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, and when all’s said and done, people will look back to Donovan’s superb displays at the tournament as a turning point for the final few years of his career. Next stop: the starting lineup in Brazil.

2. Don’t rule out the ‘oldsters’… they’ve still got it

Kyle Beckerman, Clarence Goodson, Nick Rimando and Donovan are all over the age of 30, but they showed they’ve still got plenty left in the tank as Brazil 2014 edges ever closer. The performances of these veterans is hugely important to Klinsmann and his staff. Not only were they putting in terrific displays, but their value around the locker room and on the training ground will help keep the standards high in the USMNT, as the youngsters look to follow the exemplary showing from their elder statesmen. Leaders in every sense of the word.

3. Fans embrace the tournament, as sellout crowds and stunning tifo’s seal the show

Remember way back on July 9 when the USA’s Gold Cup quest began? Me neither. But below is a timely reminder of the awesome job the US fans in Portland did, as US soccer returned to the Rose City for the first-time since ’97. But that spirit was matched across the country as fans of all countries descended in huge numbers to give the Gold Cup a real party atmosphere. 907,208 fans watched the 25 games, at an average of 36,288 per match. Stunning. So kudos to the fans who made the Gold Cup just as exciting and entertaining off the field, as the play on the field. Big crowds and plenty of passion are a huge factor in making a tournament successful. And Gold Cup 2013 certainly was.

4. Wait up Jozy, finally, we are here to help

This tournament has seen the emergence of Eddie Johnson and Chris Wondolowski as strikers who can help take the considerable goalscoring burden off Jozy Altidore shoulders. Okay, the opposition hasn’t been that strong during the Gold Cup, we can all acknowledge that. But you still need someone to put the ball in the back of the ‘old onion bag’ and that’s exactly what “Wondow” and EJ did, with seven goals between them. Even if they’re just influential subs who can change a game late on, they’ll be valuable in tournament playing going forward.

5. Klinsmann is getting pretty darn good at making subs

Not only at making subs, but the German’s overall team selections have been spot on throughout the Gold Cup. Klinsmann has shown that he’s learned from his early mistakes as US manager, and now he has a extremely strong squad of 30-40 players to choose from. Players like Joe Corona and Mix Diskerud are now firmly in his plans as he rotated the squad superbly. How Klinsmann’s going to pick a roster for the World Cup next summer, (I know, I know, if they qualify…) is beyond me. But with substitutes Wondolowski scoring crucial goals and Johnson and Brek Shea scoring with their first touches off the bench, Klinsi’s tactical nous and instinctive touch to transform the outcome of a game are coming to the fore. He’s done it in the Gold Cup, can Klinsmann now translate it to the next level?

More: Jurgen Klinsmann says high-probability Donovan will be involved in September’s World Cup qualifiers

More: Landon Donovan claims Gold Cup MVP honors

  1. docstraw - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    6. Stu Holden – What could have been

  2. jdvalk - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Klinsmann’s substitution improvement — even from the stands like yesterday — directly corresponds to how much better he knows his personnel at this point.

  3. schmutzdeck - Jul 29, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    ” Klinsmann has shown that he’s learned from his early mistakes as US manager, and now he has a extremely strong squad of 30-40 players to choose from. ”

    What mistakes? US fans have zero patience; one bad play is enough to negate anything else positive a player might ever have done.

    I haven’t seen any JK mistakes worth making much of a big deal over .

    Allegedly playing the so called three defensive mids? This player pool are still almost all Bob Bradley’s players. How are you suppose to know how your personnel work together if you do not give them a chance to show you what they can do?

    Playing Beckerman? Giving EJ a shot? Giving Gomez an extended run? You see how that has turned out.

    This team has gradually progressed from Day 1 of JK’s tenure. Gomez,EJ,, Wondo, Beckerman, Castillo, Torres were guys who were bit players under Bradley. They are now older and wiser and JK has given them a chance to make a case for themselves

    JK is still in the middle of changing the culture and trying out players. And you can’t know about players until you give them a fair run. And he isn’t finished changing things around. There is still nearly a year to go and a lot of things can happen.

    Before Sunday, many of you had Holden replacing Jones or Bradley.

  4. boscoesworld - Jul 29, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    Sad for Stuey for sure. He really is a good guy. I really like Mix D. after watching this tourney. He has a vision of the field that we don’t see often in this country. Maybe Michael Bradley shows it and a few others but really watching that kid make pin point cross field passes is a joy. He can thread the needle on short ones too. The think is he is 80% looking forward and that is new for our MF except again for Bradley. If he can clean up some possession issues he would be on his way to Brazil.

    • schmutzdeck - Jul 29, 2013 at 8:05 PM

      boscoesworld,

      Mix is a fine passer. A younger potentially better version of Carrick or if he really keeps progressing a young Pirlo.

      His emergence makes Stuey’s setback a little easier to take. In the high line high pressure style that Barca represents and JK is trying to install, the holding midfielder in front of the back four is morphing from a strictly defensive protector of the CB’s and outlet for the back four into a more offensively aggressive initiator of attacks.

      The holding midfielder does not tackle as much as they used to though obviously all good soccer players should know how to tackle ( see Donovan, Landon).

      This isn’t new. Van Gaal always said your offense begins when your keeper takes possession of the ball. Remember Donovan’s Algeria goal, THAT goal? It started with Howard locating Donovan out on the right wing who then got it to Jozy , who centered to Dempsey ……….you remember right?

      But keepers can be uneven with their distribution and with everyone playing so fast and such a high line now the sooner you start your offense the better.

      And I disagree with you that Mikey and Mix are the only US players who pass well. They both are consistent with it since they both do a lot of it. Mikey could always pass the ball but he got a lot more consistent after playing in Italy.

      In terms of guys who pass the ball well enough to play that holding midfield role besides Mikey and Mix you have Jones, Besler,Torres , Holden, LD and Clint, Fabian, Sacha, and Beckerman. Some are more consistent than others but they can all pass the ball well.

  5. footballer4ever - Jul 29, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    I am proud to have been one of the overall 907,208 passionate football fans who attended the Goldcup 2013 games. It’s too bad some don’t give enough credit or question the Concacaf’s biennial tournament and what it means to the region’a growth. I attended 2011′s, goldcup games in my city again. Last, i was greatly pleased 57k+ attendee the championship amid suggestions the stadium would be empty just because Mexico failed to make it to the final. WRONG! The USA is our national football team for US living in this country regardless if we were born here or still root for our hometown national team.

  6. boscoesworld - Jul 29, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    According to Bolton Wanderers FC homepage. Stuart Holden has torn ACL.

  7. hildezero - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    Dawg, US Soccer is SO exciting to watch!

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