As expected, the United States Men’s Soccer Team won their 5th CONCACAF Gold Cup today vs. a surprising Panama team 1-0 in Chicago today.
The goal came in the 69th minute from substitute Brek Shea who had only been on the field for only a minute!
Uncle Sam’s Army as the US Soccer fans are known were in a boisterous mood throughout the match. This title capped off what has been an extraordinary tournament for Landon Donovan (MVP of Gold Cup) who was returning after a 4 month sabbatical where he took time off to recapture the love he had for the beautiful game. Stuart Holden was another break through performer, an up and coming star whose career to this point has been ravaged with injuries. In addition the likes of Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman, Jose Caroni, and Demarcus Beasley, all have given themselves chances to be included in Jürgen Klinsman’s World Cup roster for the tournament next summer in Brazil. In a squad that was selected in what was seen as a ‘B Team’ compared to the USA team that played in the earlier parts of the year and essentially sealed their place in soccer’s biggest event next year. This Gold Cup Squad did what was expected of them and reclaimed the trophy they lost in humbling fashion to Mexico two years ago. Although the victory was not as sweet as there was no redemption victory over Mexico, it was still a good sign moving forward into the Fall.
Now all preparation returns to preparing for the World Cup, which is a very exciting time. It is essential that the US Men’s National team and all US soccer fans realize that winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup is all very well, but it must be looked at with a grain of salt. Playing against the likes of Haiti, Cuba, Honduras, El Salvador, and Panama are hardly the Germany, and Spain’s of world soccer. Don’t get me wrong, there has been massive improvement in the men’s game over the past decade. We all remember Donovan’s heroics against Algeria in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup which sent the USA into the RD of 16 of the tournament.
As the MLS season is winding down, and the European soccer season weeks away from starting up, the next 9-10 months will be very interesting to see American players continue playing at high levels and getting minutes on the field. A lot is expected of the contingent of US players who are playing over and Europe and rightly so. Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, these are the main components of the US team that will be relied on come World Cup time. Additionally, with the resurgence of Landon Donovan, and the continual progress of young American talent, Jürgen Klinsman will have many difficult decisions as he analyzes what he feels will be the best squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I for one, see the US Men’s Team continuing to grow as soccer nation. While they are still a way off, I am confident, as we have seen before in big tournaments, the team will bring maximum effort and passion into the World Cup next summer. More importantly, we will see more of a confidence and belief that they belong and deserve to play on soccer biggest stage.