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Which US national team stars saw their stock rise after Gold Cup glory?

Jul 29, 2013, 2:55 PM EDT

El Salvador v United States - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Getty Images

Following the 1-0 win over Panama in Sunday’s Gold Cup final, plenty of USMNT players will pleased with their contribution over the past month.

Six games in searing temperatures, at packed out stadiums, facing energy-sapping opposition will have taken its toll on plenty of the USA’s stars.

But after a well-deserved break, a few Yanks in particular will be all smiles with Gold Cup medals around their neck.

We are going to leave Landon Donovan out of this conversation because, well, quite frankly he should never be in it in the first place.

And some may disagree with this, but Chris Wondolowski doesn’t make the cut. We already knew he could score against poor opposition but he showed he still can’t do it against the better teams after his display in the quarterfinal.

(MORE: Top five takeaways as USA clinch Gold Cup in style)

Back to Donovan, in my opinion he would be on the plane to Brazil and involved in the upcoming qualifiers in a heartbeat. And after his MVP showing during the Gold Cup, plenty more will assume Donovan’s place in the US squad is rubber stamped, for now.

However there were some players who shone almost as brightly as Donovan, as Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad triumphed. Let’s see who.

1. Kyle Beckerman

He cleaned up the space in front of the USA’s central defenders with consummate ease throughout the tournament. Real Salt Lake’s captain doesn’t do anything spectacularly well and you can’t really rave about him, as readers on this blog have pointed out to me in the past. But he keeps things ticking over nicely, does a tremendous job of shutting off the oppositions passing lanes and is calmness personified in the heat of the battle. Every team needs a man like him. Barcelona have Sergio Busquets, Real Madrid have Xabi Alonso and if one of the first choice midfielders is injured, the USA would be fine with Beckerman patrolling in front of the back four. True professional and a great tournament.

2. Mix Diskerud

Not too many people had seen Diskerud play before this Gold Cup, apart from that stunning goal vs. Russsia, and now they want to see more. The Norwegian-American was known for his vast range of passing and delicate interplay, but we saw a real grit and determination from him. Especially in the final. Diskerud must have been disappointed to be left out of the starting lineup but when Holden went off injured, he came on and solidified the midfield with a ruthless shift of tackles and clever probing. Panama’s midfielder never got a chance to settle on the ball. This tournament did Diskerud no harm at all.

3. Clarence Goodson

Signing for the San Jose Earthquakes on the eve of the tournament, US fans were pleased to see Goodson heading back to MLS. And now they’ll be even more excited after the dominate displays he put in. The former Brondby captain was calm and assured on the ball but matched every challenge thrown at him. Plus his two exquisite long range balls to help set up goals in the USA’s win over Honduras were sublime. Goodson, Matt Besler or Omar Gonzalez? Now it’s a tough decision.

4. Eddie Johnson

After being added to the squad for the knockout rounds, EJ came up big, twice, as the US downed El Salvador and then Hondruas. 2-1 up and struggling to get that vital third goal against El Salvador against the partisan crowd in Baltimore, EJ came off the bench and scored with his first touch. Then he struck early to settle US nerves against Honduras in Dallas. So often the man for the big occasion, Johnson must now be second on the depth chart after Jozy Altidore for the central strikers role. A job well done.

5. Brek Shea

This may raise some eyebrows, but Shea needed this tournament, big time. You have to remember he wasn’t even on the roster but after Josh Gatt’s injury, Klinsmann kept Shea around and the rest is history. His goal won the Gold Cup after his first touch as a sub in the final, it wasn’t a classic but they all count. But whenever he came onto the pitch he added pace, whipped in some great balls and was a huge nuisance. It was a glimpse of the old Shea, which is something we haven’t seen for a while. However, I think we’ll be seeing plenty more of him for the national team in the coming months.

  1. boscoesworld - Jul 29, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    I am still not in the EJ camp! He got his head on the ball for his first goal and that was good but can anyone really look at his overall work rate and say he is anything but a late game sub? Good chances were squandered when he refused to play the ball to overlapping players repeatedly. When a team gets physical with him such as Panama he cannot hold up to it.

  2. charliej11 - Jul 29, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    I agree 100% with boscoesworld, but, and there is always a big but….
    EJ can do what no one else can do. He can jump higher than a goalie can reach, he can blow by guys, etc. For that reason he makes the teams, no way I start him until he learns was intensity is, and until he learns how to speed up play rather than wait for defenses to catch up to his speed.

    Brek Shea improved his stock ? Are you kidding ? You should be. No way he makes the Brazil team now. He went from total stud in Dallas to total dud learning in England. He was on the decline in Dallas too, but I think DP was injured then and I believe SH would have gotten him back. Who ever is coaching him in England should resign out of principle.

    • midtec2005 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      “Who ever is coaching him in England should resign out of principle.”

      He did

  3. creek0512 - Jul 29, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    Shea had one good goal against Costa Rica and tapped in a ball already heading for the net against Panama. He also passed up a 1-on-1 with the keeper Sunday and repeatedly tried to get sent off in a game the US were leading 1-0. Shea is a good sub for the B-team, but the A-team will have better options. Donovan, Dempsey, Zusi, Diskerud, Bedoya, Corona, Torres, Johnson, Evans, Davis are all ahead of Shea.

    • Joe Prince-Wright - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      I understand that Shea has been inconsistent. But when he came on against Panama in the final, he was much more direct and productive than anyone else who had played out wide for the US.

      He scared Panama’s defense, whipped in a great ball that EJ somehow shanked over from two yards out and, yes it was a tap in as I mentioned, but he was still following in at the back post like all good wingers should do and nabbed the winner.

      I’m not saying the guy is a world-beater, but apart from a few rusty spells here and there (understandable after his injury) I think he deserves another shot with the A-team.

      Rumors are that Stoke City may loan him out, may not be the worst thing in the world. But hope he doesn’t head to the Championship.

      All of the players you mentioned are in the mix. Which is great news for the USMNT, right?

      • midtec2005 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        I agree, and like RJ, Shea has the type of athleticism that you don’t find every day. If he gets his head right he could be really dangerous.

      • midtec2005 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        Meant EJ, not RJ

  4. danielofthedale - Jul 29, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    I disagree with the criticism that EJ and Shea are getting. Will either on be a starter in Brazil? I think not, but if you assume Landon is back in the starting lineup those two are by far the most explosive player we have coming off he bench. If its the 65 minute and we need a goal against Colombia who would you rather have coming of the Bench.

    I think Goodson was close to a lock for the team in Brazil as I think was the #3 CB and ow might be moving up on Omar for the starting spot and Beckerman I think was on the edge of the team and has now moved past Williams and Edu as of today. Corona and Bedoya I think helped their causes more. Corona went to probable bubble cut to a guy I think makes the cut and Bedoya I think has played his way to the camp team and could get in depending on injury concers.

    I would like to say Rimando helped him self the most as just lapping the rest of the possible third GKs. However I think Jurgen will take one of the young guys in Johnson or Hamid to give them the experience of being with the team over the grizzled vet in Rimando.

  5. grm35741 - Jul 29, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Beckerman- never was a big fan of sideways and back passes BUT, this tournament showed me how his calm, tackles, cutting off passing lanes, relieving pressure gives the attacking midfielder so much freedom to go forward. I’d like to see several games with him (as he performed this tournament) with MB. MIX- Impressed me as well. Big effort as a sub in the final.
    Shea- He has shown he can really play and then he looks so bad another time. It’s maturity. He either will wake up and know what it takes to play consistently at this level or he will be to old to play and it will occur to him but it will be to late. We should all start out old and grow young.
    What a difference our lives would be. I hope he figures it out now.

    • Joe Prince-Wright - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      Echo this sentiment on Beckerman.

      For a few seasons I’ve wondered what all the hype was about… but seems like he keeps getting better each year. And he is such a selfless player who allows the others around him to flourish.

      Like bellerophon30 said, I think Beckerman or Williams will get the backup holding midfield role. But I guess Cameron comes into the equation too, depending on where he plays for Stoke this season.

      Sidenote: I was also very impressed with Mix. Big future.

  6. travishenryskid - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Shea is an important player and hopefully will continue to grow. He is the only winger we have that is willing to, and capable of attacking defenders with the ball at his feet. He is a perfect change of pace player and we should all hope he makes the World Cup squad.

  7. bellerophon30 - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Let’s hold off on Shea until we see if he’s nailed to the bench at Stoke this season or not. Remember, the manager who bought him is not there any longer. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see him loaned down to the Championship.

    I agree with the sentiment on Goodson, he was already going to be on the team, health willing (God bless you Stuart Holden), but this puts him in the conversation for a starting spot. Beckerman’s spot will hinge on how Danny Williams plays with Reading this season, it’s going to be one or the other probably.

    Mixx’s spot got a little safer with Stuart out, and Eddie probably had a spot on the team as well already. It’ll be interesting to see if Europe comes calling again, with him out of contract at the end of 2013.

    Rimando is another interesting case. Do you take him to Brazil, as a reward for his long career? Or do you take one of the younger ones and give him the experience, ala Guzan in 2010, when he wasn’t the best American, or best Brad, on his own club team.

  8. adiaz9201 - Jul 30, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Bottom line we are the best in our region Concacaf, i know is not the EUFA or the south american region. But that is not our fault, only time will tell how good we are with these players, i hope they win the World Cup for our country to make a huge Soccer statement around the world! GO USA!!

  9. merseysideoc - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Agreed on Wondo; the fanboys (along with a couple of FSC announcers) did their part as wind-up merchants to get the “Book A Ticket For Wondo 2014” bandwagon rolling. I’m still not overly convinced he’s able to produce against top level international opposition outside of the CONCACAF region.

    Jar Jar Becks was, IMHO, well used by Klinsi during the Gold Cup. However, CONCACAF is unarguably the zenith of his international skill level. I’d say the mighty minnows of CONCACAF proved as stern a test as he’s capable of handling. Anything outside the region & he’s going to be punching well beyond his weight, causing our other mids & defenders to cover for his lack as we’ve already seen. The CDM pecking order includes but isn’t limited to Jones, Bradley, Mixx, Cameron, Edu & Williams. I would also throw Spector out there based upon his ability to function in both a defensive & holding mid role. In fact, I’m surprised Klinsi didn’t call him up for the Gold Cup as he is a player who still has promise internationally. At this stage, I think the CDM role is too deep for Jar Jar to factor into the equation.

    EJ has seemingly resurrected his career at Sea-Town. In spite of his failed international stint, that international experience is vital & he is clearly brimming w/confidence, even when he doesn’t score. He has a physical presence & pace that we need. I can see him going to Brazil, but he will definitely have to continue improving. It will be interesting to see how this plays out w/Aron Johannsson coming into the picture. We’ll see how he does vs Bosnia.

    In looking at Shea’s total performance throughout the Gold Cup, I’d say he had a miserable outing. I think his focus was split on club & country. Hard to blame him considering Sparky Hughes is now at the helm for the Potters & he’s got to impress the new gaffer especially in light of new signings. I’d agree w/an earlier sentiment that a loan is in the picture for the Brekkens. His pace & power were a handful for opposition, but his final touch was abysmal.

    One baffling player selection was Alan Gordon. I’m not sure if Klinsi was going for pure size & tenacity up top w/Gordon to match up against big bodied defenders (similar to how Conor Casey was used by Bob Bradley during 2010 qualifiers), but I think that was a wasted selection. We never saw McInerney feature. It would’ve been good to get a glimpse of him during the Gold Cup.

    • midtec2005 - Jul 30, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      I actually thought Gordon would have been a good sub at the end of the final, especially with EJ missing golden opportunities.

  10. hildezero - Jul 30, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Out of all those players, Goodson is the best one. He is gonna go to the World Cup if the US qualifies.

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