As USMNT prepares to kick off Gold Cup, they enter a tournament that matters plenty

GOldCupReax (Reuters)

By IVES GALARCEP

HARRISON, N.J.– The CONCACAF Gold Cup doesn’t matter.

That’s what you will hear from some skeptics of the 2013 edition of the regional tournament. The fact that the region’s top teams have, for the most part, sent B teams to compete in the event has left some believing that the tournament itself is a waste of time, and just doesn’t matter all that much.

That simply isn’t the case.

Anyone who sat in Red Bull Arena on Monday night, and soaked in the spirit and passion created by the fan bases of four different countries, and watched players show the kind of emotion they did, came away knowing full well that this year’s Gold Cup absolutely matters.

And why shouldn’t it matter? It is an international competition featuring national teams wearing the colors and crests of their nations. The circumstances of this summer’s international calendar forced the top teams to send mostly B teams, but you can rest assured there aren’t all that many fans sweating those kind of details.

Does anybody honestly think Panamanian fans are going “You know, they didn’t have Chicharito” after Panama beat Mexico for the first time in the nation’s history last Sunday? Does anyone really think Mexican fans look back on ‘El Tri’s’ 2009 Gold Cup Final demolition of the United States and say “To be fair, their best players weren’t there”?

It’s all a bit of snobbery to think that if it’s not a World Cup, or a tournament like the Euros, it doesn’t matter. The Gold Cup is important, and even with many of the regions top stars on vacation ahead of their European clubs seasons, this year’s version absolutely still matters.

The tournament matters to different countries for different reasons. Take the U.S. Men’s National Team, which will kick off its Gold Cup tonight against Belize. It matters not only because of the lingering memories of two embarrassing Gold Cup final defeats in the past two tournaments. It matters because there is a crop of players fighting to play their way onto the full U.S. team.

Ask Stuart Holden if the Gold Cup matters. The tournament that helped him get his first big break with the U.S., and now the tournament that could catapult him into a major role with the full team, a role he seemed destined to take on three years ago, before injuries sidetracked him.

Ask Felipe Baloy if the Gold Cup matters. The hulking Panamanian captain just finished a grueling season with Santos Laguna, which he followed up with a month-long run through World Cup qualifying. Rather than take a sorely-needed vacation, Baloy signed up to play in the Gold Cup along with several key first-choice starters for Panama. Why? Panama has been eliminated by the United States in four straight Gold Cups, but with both the U.S. and Mexico fielding B teams, this tournament is suddenly Panama’s best, and last chance to win a Gold Cup with the current nucleus of top players.

Ask Mexican fans if the Gold Cup matters. Even though their first team isn’t at the tournament (after competing in World Cup qualifying and the Confederations Cup this summer), this Gold Cup is desperately important for a Mexican team that needs some results to help ease the growing fears of a fan base already fed up with a disappointing World Cup qualifying cycle. For a tournament that supposedly doesn’t matter, Mexico’s loss to Panama in Sunday’s opener resonated and put even more pressure on beleaguered Mexican manager ‘Chepo’ De La Torre.

Ask the Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago fans who poured into Red Bull Arena on Monday if the Gold Cup matters. You could find license plates from as far away as North Carolina crawling their way here in snarling traffic, packed with fans who didn’t just want to watch the action. They also wanted to celebrate their national pride and represent their home countries by waving flags and chanting and singing and begging for their teams to score goals in order to have something to celebrate.

Truth be told, U.S. fans have been spoiled. They have grown accustomed to seeing their team reach the finals, and in several cases win the tournament. They have watched the U.S. team dismantle overmatched opponents plenty of times in the group stages, and dispose of other mid-level CONCACAF powers with relative ease and regularity. That sort of dominance makes it easy to take the whole process for granted, and lose sight of what should make this tournament mean something.

There is a different vibe around the 2013 edition of the Gold Cup. Past tournaments haven’t always captured the type of excitement that we have already seen after two match days of this year’s version. Whether it’s the motivation of knowing that the Mexico and U.S. have sent B teams, or maybe just the reality that the CONCACAF region, as a whole, has seen across the board improvement, the early games have been exciting, competitive and filled with passion and intrigue.

The reality is this year’s Gold Cup is the most wide open in years. As much as the U.S. is considered the favorite, and struggling Mexico must still be respected as a threat, this year’s field has several teams who could shake up the tournament. Teams such as Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica, and even a small nation like Haiti could cause problems in this Gold Cup.

Does that mean we should expect Belize to push the U.S. to the brink tonight? Not really, but with a sold-out crowd in Portland ready to cheer on the U.S. fans and remind us all why they have some of the best soccer fans in America, the Group C doubleheader on tap tonight should offer similar passion to what we saw at Red Bull Arena on Monday.

No, the 2013 Gold Cup isn’t loaded with big stars, and can’t honestly be compared to an event like the World Cup, but that doesn’t change the fact that the tournament still stirs passions all across the region, and still matters to the players competing in it, and the fans packing stadiums across the country to see it.

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89 Responses to As USMNT prepares to kick off Gold Cup, they enter a tournament that matters plenty

  1. Dc says:

    Yes Ives! Awesome article. Personally, I love watching the US players fight for spots and seeing players that I don’t normally see. It’s often more exciting than WC qualifiers.

    • slowleftarm says:

      You find this more exciting than WC qualifiers? How is that possible?

      • Jared says:

        A lot of the WC qualifiers for the US are not competitive or are only competitive because the teams bunker in. Neither is particularly exciting especially considering that these days the US is almost a guarantee to qualify. I also enjoy seeing the next level of players.

        • slowleftarm says:

          Not competitive? Have you watched the US qualifiers this cycle? I wish some more of the games were blowouts but that hasn’t been the case at all. Other than the Panama game, none of them have been comfortable and even that was a struggle for a while.

          Hey to each his own I guess.

          • Francois says:

            The Panama game was a struggle for a while? When? The first 15 minutes? Not much of a struggle. The Honduras game could have easily been a lot more lopsided. The Jamaica game was just a failure to capitalize on chances, and a lackadaisical attitude after we were in control.

            • slowleftarm says:

              Francois, the Honduras game was 0-0 after 70 minutes and we needed a goal in stoppage time to beat Jamaica. If those games count as “one-sided” or “non-competitive” you’ve got different defintions for those terms than I do. My definition of a cakewalk would be the Guatemala game the other night. Haven’t had a single one of those in the HEX.

    • nick says:

      I think more exciting that WCQ is a bit extreme, but nonetheless I do love the GC. Especially years like this when we bring a B+ team with a mix of talented youth and vet experience.

    • biff says:

      I second this Dc. Agree with you 100%. I also find this roster more exciting than the one last month for the WCQ games. Not saying it’s better. it’s not. But more exciting. Not sure exactly why, but could be several factors. One, Landy-Cakes is back and I got my fingers crossed that he does well and wins back a spot on the team and one last time can give for the US shirt in a World Cup like he has done before. Also, several players on this roster I have been curious about for the past year or more, to see how they can do if given more than a 10-minute shot at the end of game or being played out of position. Players like Torres, Corona, Wondo, Castillo, Orozco, Bedoya and now Shea back and, of course, Holden.

      I have no doubt that a few players during this Gold Cup are going to shine and will light a fire under the butts of some worried members of the A-Team who want to hold on to those precious WC spots. Probably the only player not worried about losing his spot is Timothy Chandler, because his spot is no doubt guaranteed after all he has done so far to help the team qualify.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        death and taxes…and biff taking a shot at timmy chandler

        : )

      • Marcelo Balboa's Mustache says:

        Agree in general and I also second the list of players that you find more exciting to watch. I think the reason for the excitement is that the midfield options on this team are more offensively minded than the “A-team.” Most of these players aren’t as high quality as Bradley or JJones, but having some speed on the flanks and offensive spark in the middle sure makes for good entertainment. GC is a great venue to bring in more speed and creativity without necessarily caring as much about defensive cover for the back four. Here’s hoping on more multi-goal wins!

  2. Rector & Carlisle says:

    Of course, any chance you have to get yourself on your nation’s WC team matters. It doesn’t mean the Gold Cup doesn’t matter, just that the WC matters more. You express the same feeling positively or negatively but the point remains the same.

    That said, I think the Gold Cup matters more every four years, when a place in the Confed. Cup is up for grabs.

    • Falls City Outlaw says:

      Rector: the winner of each Gold Cup now earns a 1/2 bid to the Confeds Cup. The champions of 2013 will playoff vs 2015.

      • Rector & Carlisle says:

        Thanks.

        Funny though that the winner from 2013 will play the winner from 2015 for the chance to compete in a tournament in 2017.

        I guess people here will call me a “Eurosnob” simply because I think the Gold Cup would be better played every four years like the UEFA Cup.

    • KKS says:

      Remember: The 2013 and 2015 GC winners will play each other for a spot at the Confed Cup so it’s not like this tournament doesn’t matter.

      • Ali Dia says:

        Anybody know what happens if the same team wins both 2013 and 2015? Seems like a clear possibility given the dynamics of our region. The logical intuition is obviously that there would be no play-off, but haven’t heard this confirmed

  3. Eric W says:

    Ives – I been following your work for a few years now and I gotta say, I think this is the best piece I’ve read from you. It’s more journalistic than most blogs and more human than most mainstream media.

    I really appreciate the perspective. Soccer matters to people for far more reasons than FIFA will ever understand. And those of us in the States have gotten spoiled. I’ve been able to connect with folks from around the world and throughout Latin America through soccer – people I might not have otherwise been able to connect with. And those connections have changed how I play the game and how I root for my USMNT in international competitions. I’m glad to see a broader understanding of our region.

    • Andy in Atlanta says:

      This… I experience it everyday in my line of work… When all else fails… I can always talk football with people from around the world.

    • Weston John says:

      Completely agree…I work at a cmpany that does business across the Americas and it is a major icebreaker to talk soccer with people from South America, Central America and Canada. I was on the phone the other day with someone in the Montreal office and we were talking about the Impact and Stade Saputo. Even though everyone I talk to may support a different national team, soccer is overwhelmingly a great unifying force for people from different nations and backgrounds.

  4. slowleftarm says:

    Disagree. I think this tournament, shoehorned in with the HEX and Confederations Cup, is pointless and I think the Gold Cup should be held only once every four years, in the year following the World Cup. I’ll probably still watch the US games but I’m not going to get too excited whether the US wins the whole thing or gets knocked out.

    • Dc says:

      When else can the US be tested in tournament style play to prepare for the WC? This has to be a good thing towards the preparation of next year.

      • Falls City Outlaw says:

        Also, CAF holds their tourney every 2 years.

        • slowleftarm says:

          Sure, but 1) that isn’t a good reason for Concacaf to do it and 2) the second tournament isn’t full of B teams.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Except the US isn’t being tested, this is a B team full of fringe players, most of whom won’t be anywhere near the plane to Brazil.

        • Ben says:

          The excellent reason to do it is precisely so we can use a “B” squad. We can give young guys a chance to prove themselves. We can test different players. That is invaluable. We aren’t Argentina or Holland; we need as many games as we can get, using a variety of players.

          • slowleftarm says:

            It may be useful but the tournament itself is meaningless, in my opinion. In other words, it doesn’t make any difference whether our collection of B team fringe players beats whoever Mexico can be bothered to send.

            Hey, if you guys like it, knock yourself out. It certainly makes money for Concacaf so the second gold cup every four years certainly isn’t going away.

            • Ben says:

              Well, isn’t all soccer essentially meaningless? I mean, it’s a just a game for our entertainment, a pointless kicking of a ball and tallying a score. There is also the fact that winning this is 50 percent of qualifying for the next Confed Cup, but you probably think that is a stupid tournament as well.

            • WK says:

              you’re clearly not paying attention. this year’s winner will play the 2017 winner for the right to represent CONCACAF at the ’17 Confederations cup. or does that one not matter either?

              • WK says:

                sorry- this year’s winner will play the 2015 winner

              • slowleftarm says:

                Yeah not really. I only really rate the WC and continental championships as mattering. The last Confederations Cup was an excellent tournament but past editions have been pretty lackluster. I personally don’t think it’s a big deal.

        • McQ says:

          I don’t know if I agree with your assesment. If you look straight up the spine, there are at least 4-6 players that may be on the plane to Brazil, Rimondo by most accounts will be the third goalie, Beasley at present appears to be the left back, Holden, Hercules would be in my top 4 strikers, Landon has still got to be considered a lock and Diskenrud seems to have gotten himself into the conversation for now. I think the guy playing for his life right now is Gooch who is on the outside looking in but a key injury or another misstep by Gonzales and he may sneak onto the plane. Along the lines of Ives’ article, I think this may be the most interesting Gold Cup team we have fielded in the last 6-8 years with lots to watch.

        • Bitman says:

          False. Two are absolute locks (Holden and Donovan), another two are likely (Beasley and Diskerud). I’m not sold on Gomez or Goodson. I’d like to see Gooch fight for a spot.

    • TomM says:

      This isn’t just about getting results. We have the B team, perhaps the deepest ever, getting a good run-out against quality international competition and vying for a possible WC spot. Holden, Gooch, Donovan, Diskerud, Corona, Bedoya – I want to see them play, so does Klinsmann.

      • McQ says:

        them too!

      • Dennis says:

        “B” team? Even 2 years ago (except for injuries) if you had thrown out those names, everyone would have thought you were talking about potential starters for 2014.

        • beachbum says:

          ^^this

          various guys on this GC squad could represent at the WC, and if qualifying for the Confed Cup isn’t incentive enough for some, they don’t get it

    • shark says:

      showleftarm, did you read the article? All those who went to the games in Jersey and a sold-out Portland? It’s all about the benjamins baby

  5. John Lowe says:

    I have watched every game so far and they have been very entertaining. Looking foward to watching the US tonight.

  6. Dont Care says:

    Id rather they scrap this second Gold Cup and work on a North and South American tournament

    • Ben says:

      That would be amazing, but probably difficult to pull off.

    • Edwin in LA says:

      They’re trying….but clubs are trying to curb the amount of FIFA dates as it is…
      2016 is the year they were talking about hosting a Centennial Copa America in the US…mainly because you could see the tournament average something ridiculous like 80K per game in attendance….I kind of want to see it happen so FIFA looks stupid as the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will not even come close to 70K IMO….lol

      But we’ll see….it means some players who are young and in the U-23 category for 2016…meaning born in 1993 or later might not get to play in that 2016 Copa America or in the Olympics if they do play in the 2016 tournament….I hope it happens tho…. it would take place around the time of the Rio Olympics and Euro

  7. Barack Obama says:

    What I got from this article is that the Gold Cup doesn’t matter!

  8. Andy in Atlanta says:

    people also forget that the Gold Cup is most certainly a FIFA sanctioned match and contributes to our world ranking… I for one want to make sure we are not in pot 4 for the draw..

    • Tyler says:

      If we’re not a seeded team in pot 1 (which we won’t be), it won’t matter which pot (2,3,4) we’re in.

      • kar says:

        Not completely true Tyler. While the number of the pot doesn’t matter, who joins the CONCACAF teams in the pot does.

        I would much rather join the African teams in a POT then the Asian teams. Might be great to join the non-seeded South American teams in a POT. Generally, FIFA uses dark voodoo magic to determine pot groupings (okay okay, it’s also partially to make the logistics of around group makeup rules work), but you have to assume that overall power indexes impact that in some way.

      • Ali Dia says:

        Agree with Tyler. Given all the rules surrounding who can be in a group with whom, a “1″ seed is really the only meaningful thing, as it assures you won’t be in a group with any of 7 other clearly strong teams.

        I also agree that we are unlikely to be seeded. Had Mexico followed up their Olympics success by sailing through qualifying and winning the Gold Cup, I have to believe they were in line for a 1 seed. However, I don’t think that we are in line for this spot now, even if we win the hex & Gold Cup and any friendlies in between now and the draw. Don’t see a top seeded team from outside of S. America or Europe

  9. Ben says:

    I really enjoy this tournament, no matter what team we bring. There is always something worthwhile to see. Some US fans do act like spoiled brats, and they show it when they whine and complain that we only only beat a German B squad in 4-3. You just know people like that are the life of the party.

  10. BrianK says:

    The Gold Cup is weak. If anyone in CONCACAF had vision (beyond thieving),….they would meet with the folks from CONMEBOL and create a competition called the “Copa America” that was every four years and had eight teams from CONCACAF and eight teams from CONMEBOL and was the true championship for the Americas. Such a competition would rival the Euros. The CONCACAF champion would be the team that finishes the highest in the competition,…provided a CONCACAF team does not win the tournament out-right. Pretty simple.

    • Ben says:

      Nice thought, but you have to explain why CONMEBOL would agree to that. They enjoy their tournament as it is. I’m sure CONCACAF has dreamed of something like that. In fact, Grant Wahl wrote, last year I think, about such a proposition, but there is little chance CONMEBOL will agree to it. It’s nice to have thoughts like that, but there is a little thing called reality.

      • BrianK says:

        As PM Dawn sing,….”reality used to be a frined of mine.”

        The reality is that CONMEBOL recognized that the Copa America was weak and not nearly the draw that the Euros are and started inviting the USA and Mexico to increase the level of comeptition and draw the attention of two HUGE markets,…the USA and Mexico. I don’t suppose you remember the 1995 tournament,…the USA lost in the semis to Brazil after knocking off Argentina along the way. (John Harkes was voted Co-MVP of the tournament!). If I am not mistaken, Mexico lost in a final to Argentina in 1993! HOWEVER,…enter the grubby little man named Jack Warner,….he realized he would stand to lose power (or the chance to steal money) so he pushed for the creation of the Gold Cup. Once the Gold Cup was created,…CONCACAF could not accept invitations to the Copa America because it would make the Gold Cup look second rate,…which it is anyway. So while times have changed,…I wouldn’t be so quick to say that CONMEBOL wouldn’t want a unified tournament.

        So I suppose I should have had read my opening line above to read,…”if anyone in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL had any vision they should resurect the idea of a single Copa America.” Grant Wahl did mention it last year but it is not necessarily a new idea. It would however take vision to understand the huge benefits. At present,…Copa America is a distant fourth to World Cup, Euopean Championships and now Confederations Cup.

        Not sure how old you are Ben,…but if you were young to see the 1995 tournament you missed some great soccer from the USA. Harkes was great. Wynalda and Jones played extremely well. Sad thing was,…Tab Ramos was still recovering from the awful injury from the World Cup in ’94.

        • Edwin in LA says:

          USA did not Knock off anyone other than Mexico….they beat Argentina in the last game of the group stage… when Argentina had already secured a spot in the quarters. Granted they maybe should have given more of an effort because they ended up playing Brazil and losing in PKs in the quarterfinals…but I don’t blame them for taking the US lightly at the time…..they had WC Qualifying to worry about and the team was stacked…..US simply performed really well. Tab Ramos was recovering? What did you mean exactly or were just talking about the make up of the US squad?

    • slowleftarm says:

      While this would be awesome, it won’t happen because the Conmebol teams don’t want or need Concacaf teams in the Copa America. Too bad because I think a tournament with the ten Conmebol teams and six HEX teams from the previous cycle (thus eliminating the need for qualifiers) once every four years would be fantastic. It would be just behind the Euros as the biggest international competition after the world cup but alas it will never take place.

    • beachbum says:

      folks say this literally every year wen the GC is played, and the reasons it isn’t feasible are then recounted every year when the GC is played

  11. greenerpitch says:

    Thanks Ives – great read. I am loving it this year… passion from the teams. Stories like Stu Holden, as you mentioned, the “1/2″ of the Confed Cup bid as FCO said, plus the ability to cap-tie someone like Mix. All good stuff. And more international football is always something I appreciate.

  12. CD9 says:

    I personally care a great deal about this tournament if only for the opportunity to not only beat Mexico but to possibly destroy them. I think the team we have in this tourney could possibly beat Mexico something like 3-0 or 4-0 and man would that be sweet! And afterwards I would pretend to be oblivious to the fact that it was a weak Mexico squad.

  13. Joe Dirt says:

    Nice article but you completely forget to mention why this tournament absolutely matters:

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GOLD CUP OFF YEAR ANYMORE…

    The winner of 2013 Gold Cup will play the winner of 2015 Gold Cup for the Concacaf spot in Confederation Cup 2017.

    This tournament matters.

  14. Rey Pygsterio says:

    Someone please send this to Charlie Stillitano, who continues to say on The Football Show that this year’s Gold Cup doesn’t matter. I am surprised that even he doesn’t know about the change that makes this part of the Confederations Cup qualifier.

  15. Indeed says:

    Simply put, I enjoy watching the USMNT play regardless of the tournament, the level of the squad, or circumstances surrounding the match.

    It’s just fun, and there is nothing wrong with that!

    • Brain Guy says:

      Indeed, Indeed. It’s always fun to watch the MNT, especially in tournament and WCQ games. And to call this a B team is not quite accurate. There are a number of guys on this squad that will be making serious bids to play in the remaining qualifiers and in Brazil.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Not to nitpick but that’s basically the definition of a B team.

        • Brain Guy says:

          My point was that this is not a typical B team because a number of players have been (or have been thought of as) A-team starters but because of injury or other circumstances have a real chance to play themselves back into the fold. I’m thinking Donovan, Holden, Gomez, Beasley, maybe Goodson, maybe Diskerud, maybe Onyewu. It just feels like a much better team than the 2009 team that got pummeled in the final.

  16. bottlcaps says:

    Tournament play is a lot different from friendlies and even WCQ matches. You have a limited roster and you have to make do with it. Sometimes it’s not so important as to have 11 very good players on the field, but have 18 (or 23) on the roster for the games where you have injuries and suspensions. It is VERY important to give players and coaches experience in learning how to play well throughout a tournament and how to marshal your resources.

    Although the Central American and Caribbean countries have their own Cup matches, I’m not sure if involves a tournament or a WCQ style. But if the US doesn’t qualify for the Confed Cup or the WC, how many tournaments can the US play in? Answer:0 The Gold Cup then becomes very important, more so for the US.

    If you also notice, that outside Mexico, How many other countries have hosted the Gold Cup?

    It’s Hosted in the US, it seems all the time, as we have the most facilities and the best transportation infrastructure than any of the other CONCACAF nations. Foreign teams like coming here yo play in the facilities, and foreign supporters also like the facilities, the infrastructure and the above all the embracement of multiculturalism that is America.

    • Justin says:

      The 7 Central American nations compete for the Copacentroamerica, and the Caribbean nations compete for the Caribbean Cup. The results of both tournaments are used in determining Gold Cup qualification/seeding.

  17. KutamaObama says:

    Hey Ives, great article and good job with your website. I always browse the site every morning & evening just to read the articles & comments. You say we “US Fans” are spoiled, that might be stretching it a bit but there is nothing wrong in demanding that our soccer team be one of the best around the world. We do have the talent & we have what it takes to get there just that we are not there yet & we deserve to be there. Anytime we critize the team or Jurgen Klinsman (we may not be soccer gurus but we have every right to do so), it is because we know that they can do better. It’s great that we have our so-called “B-team” because from that team we are trying to get more depth in every position just in case of injuries, suspension & most importantly, spots on the World Cup team. It is also a good thing so that the regular players know that they can’t afford to slack cos some other player(s) is snapping at their heels for their position. It is exciting to be a USMNT fan because we are “at the moment” riding high & I hope it continues into the World Cup.

    • Ben says:

      This is the delusion of US fans speaking. We do not have the talent of Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Italy, Holland, and that is just for starters. We do have the talent to beat them on any given day, if we are playing amazing and they are subpar, but on an individual level, no we don’t have that sort of talent.

  18. Mig says:

    It matters because of the Confed Cup change. It matters for assessing next gen players or rehabbing lapsed principal squad members.

    As a competition, meh. Results at B-team tourney just don’t matter. If they did, we would send an A-team. One good metric is comparing this with World Cup qualifiers (since it is that same opponents). In Gold Cup, if we lose, Klinsman will be saying things like “We learned a lot about our players and who can handle which responsibilities…blah blah blah.” If we don’t qualify for the World Cup Klinsman gets a good bye press conference after he has been fired.

  19. Mig says:

    It matters because of the Confed Cup change. It matters for a$$essing next gen players or rehabbing lapsed principal squad members.

    As a competition, meh. Results at B-team tourney just don’t matter. If they did, we would send an A-team. One good metric is comparing this with World Cup qualifiers (since it is that same opponents). In Gold Cup, if we lose, Klinsman will be saying things like “We learned a lot about our players and who can handle which responsibilities…blah blah blah.” If we don’t qualify for the World Cup Klinsman gets a good bye press conference after he has been fired.

  20. Kyle says:

    Wanted to post this in here since I was late posting it in the Holden article but I still wanted to hear others thoughts:

    At the moment I see Donovan and Holden as super-subs or injury/card replacements for major tournaments. I think Donovan fits in where Dempsey plays, but I’m not sure he can still put in the defensive effort to fill in on the outside. Same for Holden… I think his best position is in the middle but I don’t think he replaced Jones or Bradley. I would be interested to see how a Bradley-Holden pairing would look, but I think that would force Bradley to change his game that has been so awesome lately. The presence of Jones allows Bradley much more freedom to roam up-top and without him I think the roles might reverse… Holden could roam more offensively and Bradley would be forced more defensive.

    With all that said I am excited to have such a deep bench in which you can bring in players that are not drop-off from the starters. Imagine Donovan and Holden coming in around the 70th minute when the other team’s legs are starting to feel a bit heavy. That would be terrifying for the other team and very exciting for the US!

    • Dennis says:

      I’m not sure any US player terrifies the opposition, but I get your point.

    • Nate says:

      “The presence of Jones allows Bradley much more freedom to roam up-top….”

      What games have you been watching? When Jones is out there he just goes wherever and Bradley has to stick to defensive play. The best up-top roaming we’ve seen from him is when Cameron took over the defensive mid responsibilities and gave Bradley the option to drive forward, with great success.

  21. bryan says:

    it’s simple, if the US is playing, i’m excited and i want to win.

  22. Green76 says:

    I have watched every game so far and I think this has been a great tournament. It’s great to see the passion of the CONCACAF teams and their fans. It’s nice to see the impact of MLS on CONCACAF national teams. I have a friend from Costa Rica whose son plays on my boy’s team. He is bringing his family to the games in Portland tonight and it’s a very big deal to him. He gets to root for Costa Rica and the USA in back to back games live.

  23. AcidBurn says:

    Ives – Baloy isn’t on the Gold Cup roster. I think he’s on the extended roster, but he is not on the first 23 for the group stages. So he didn’t really “sign up” any more than the US players who played WCQ’s as well.

  24. Dennis says:

    One thing about the Gold Cup, in the last few iterations, when the results are not so great, fans get upset. I was at Soldier Field for the thrilling US win in 2007, and was at Giants stadium when Mexico dismantled the US defense in 2009, that was brutal. 2 years ago, Gulati’s excuse for firing Bradley was the 4-2 loss to Mexico in the GC final. Saying it does not matter is as silly as saying only the World Series matters in Baseball or only the Stanley Cup for Hockey, etc. OF course it matters.

  25. Nate Dollars says:

    great post, ives. couldn’t really say why i’ve been excited for this gold cup–just knew i was–and you nailed it.

  26. Bac says:

    As far as I’m concerned, any night I can grill a steak, crack open a beer, turn on the tube and watch the Usmnt play is a great night… the rest of the discussion is moot

  27. AJ Striker says:

    What happened to the rumors of the Copa America in 2016 being 16 teams (10 SA and 6 NA) and being hosted in the US? link to wakingthered.com

    • BrianK says:

      Reposted from above:

      The reality is that CONMEBOL recognized that the Copa America was weak and not nearly the draw that the Euros are and started inviting the USA and Mexico to increase the level of comeptition and draw the attention of two HUGE markets. I don’t suppose you remember the 1995 tournament,…the USA lost in the semis to Brazil after knocking off Argentina along the way. (John Harkes was voted Co-MVP of the tournament!). If I am not mistaken, Mexico lost in a final to Argentina in 1993! HOWEVER,…enter the grubby little man named Jack Warner,….he realized he would stand to lose power (or the chance to steal money) so he pushed for the creation of the Gold Cup. Once the Gold Cup was created,…CONCACAF teams could not accept invitations to the Copa America because it would make the Gold Cup look second rate,…which it is anyway. So while times have changed,…I wouldn’t be so quick to say that CONMEBOL wouldn’t want a unified tournament.

      So I suppose I should have had read my opening line above to read,…”if anyone in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL had any vision they should resurect the idea of a single Copa America.” Grant Wahl did mention it last year but it is not necessarily a new idea. It would however take vision to understand the huge benefits. At present,…Copa America is a distant fourth to World Cup, Euopean Championships and now Confederations Cup.

      Not sure how old you are Ben,…but if you were too young to see the 1995 tournament you missed some great soccer from the USA. Harkes was great. Wynalda and Jones played extremely well. Sad thing was,…Tab Ramos was still recovering from the awful injury from the World Cup in ’94.

      • Justin says:

        Wrong again here too, so reposting…

        CONMEBOL started inviting 2 CONCACAF members to the Copa America since 1993. At every edition since that date, 2 CONCACAF members have accepted invites (I think Japan is invited to the ’15 Copa, but whatever). The statement that CONCACAF members no longer accept invites because of the Gold Cup is simply incorrect. Mexico contests virtually every Copa, and the main reason the USA has declined most of its invites since the mid-90′s is because of MLS scheduling, not because CONCACAF has established some kind of iron hold over its members. The USA’s invite is then usually passed to Costa Rica, who are the legitimate 3rd best team in CONCACAF (and the best in Central America). Believe me, CONCACAF is not holding its best nations back.

        The bottom line is that the true obstacle to creating a unified tournament are the plentiful weak-but-voting Caribbean members of CONCACAF. If CONMEBOL can count on Mexico, sometimes the USA, and a decent Central American side (Honduras/Costa Rica) to contest every Copa, why would they look to expand the tournament any further? To include a wasteful knockout round between St. Lucia and Grenada? If I’m CONMEBOL, I am perfectly happy with the balance of tournament.

  28. Kevin_H says:

    Watch the game… Or get a good night’s sleep. I hope most of the Gold Cup games aren’t this late at night! 11 p.m. is rough for us easterners who have a day job.

    • Tim S. says:

      But those late games are great for those of us who have a 4-year-old who will be asleep then, but would not have been asleep at 7 (central). :)

    • whoop-whoop says:

      Simple

      D… V… R…

      We live in miraculous times… you can watch the game as many/ at any time you like. Pause to use the head and grab a fresh cold beverage…. rewind / rewatch highlights… fast-forward through Lalas.

  29. Haddo says:

    This T&T-El Salvador game is electric!