USMNT Report: Taking Back the Trophy

The Americans find redemption as they capture the 2013 Gold Cup
by Herb Scribner   |   Sunday, July 28, 2013

USMNT Report - coverage of the United States Men's National Team

The United States Men’s National Team, at long last, has found redemption.

The Americans, without their head coach and in a paint-drying performance, captured their 5th Gold Cup trophy with a 1-0 win over Panama on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.

POST-GAME REACTIONS: USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann, who was suspended for the match after being ejected in the semifinal, spoke highly of his team after the game.

“The guys put in a tremendous amount of work and should be very proud,” he said. “The best team in the tournament was the United States.”

Klinsmann also said after the game that Landon Donovan, who won the Golden Boot for his 5-goal performance in the tournament, may rejoin the team for the fall qualifiers.

“It’s absolutely normal that there’s a high probability that he joins us for the September games,” Klinsmann said.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Mix Diskerud – Though he was subbed onto the field and didn’t start, Diskerud was one of the only bright spots for the Yanks. He was consistent throughout the entire match, calming the USMNT down when it was frantic on the field, earning free kicks and covering a lot of space.

ANALYSIS: Breathe easy, USA fans. Your team has found its redemption.

That’s been the running theme of this team, starting back when the Gold Cup roster was formally announced. Players like Stuart Holden and Donovan, who had once been crucial players for the USMNT but had since faded away, were making their returns in the red, white and blue. The USA – losers in the 2009 and 2011 Gold Cup finals with 5-0 and 4-2 losses to Mexico, respectively – was a favorite to make a run for the cup this year and redeem itself after those embarassing defeats.

Like the 1-0 drubbing over Costa Rica in the group phase, Sunday’s final against Panama was stale. The USA’s pulse, which had been surging and running rampant in recent affairs, completely flat-lined on Soldier Field. Panama did well to cut off the space and force the Americans into unhelpful situations. And although the USA held most of the possession, that flair and attacking style seen throughout the tournament was absent.

It also didn’t help the Americans that Holden, who had finally solidified himself as a starter for the USMNT and was back at full health, went down with an injured knee and was sidelined for the match early in the opening half.

But the blessing from his injury was in his substitution, as Diskerud came on and lit up the pitch all game. Another substitution paid off as well, seeing as Brek Shea, who came on for Joe Corona in the 68th minute, scored the winning goal for the United States just after 69 seconds the pitch.

There were problems with the USA’s backline again. Panama stretched it thin at points and Los Canaleros were a cause for concern late on as they conjured set pieces. DaMarcus Beasley made a couple of unintelligent fouls towards the end of the match, but he also managed to clear the ball and compress the danger.

No matter how tough it got, the United States stayed strong and captured the Gold Cup trophy. With the win, the Americans advance to a playoff match with the 2015 Gold Cup winner to determine which side goes to the 2017 Confederations Cup. The win also extended the USA's record winning streak to 11 games.

My biggest interest following the Gold Cup is which players on the Gold Cup roster will make the World Cup Qualifiers squad in the fall.

Donovan, who started all 6 Gold Cup matches for the USA and shared top-scoring honors with Chris Wondolowski, is a likely shoe-in. Beasley, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and others who starred in both the Gold Cup and WCQs earlier this year will also likely feature in the fall. Clarence Goodson was praised by Klinsmann throughout this tournament, and he’ll probably get another call-up.

But it’ll be intriguing to see which players on the bubble, like Diskerud, Wondolowski and Joe Corona, will make the team. Holden’s injury, whether serious or not, may keep him off the team, and Kyle Beckerman, who highlighted the 1st half of Sunday’s final, might not find a space since the USA’s defensive midfielder depth chart is as deep as they come.

We may get a sample of the fall WCQ team at the Aug. 14 friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Klinsmann could create a lineup that mixes this Gold Cup team and the more recent A squad, fusing together 2 winning teams and possibly creating an exceptional USA side.

With the win, the United States is the reigning champion of CONCACAF. You can only beat the teams you play, and sometimes those teams are minnows in an average soccer federation, but the USA can hold its head high and say it is clearly the best of its region.

Klinsmann may not have been on the sideline for his team on Sunday, and he may not have had a hefty amount of influence on the game. But he’s built a program with the United States that is clearly, at least for the moment, working.

NEXT UP: August 14 – Friendly: United States vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. 2:30 p.m. EST, ESPN2.


UMass Amherst
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SN managing editor and award-winning journalist, Herb has always been known as "The Soccer Guy" wherever he goes. He's a leftback in most outdoor and indoor leagues. He also writes for Deseret News National.