The Gold Cup has been a hectic and frustrating ride so far, with the US Men’ s National Team seeing multiple mass line changes, two different goalkeepers, and more goals scored on them than we’re used to seeing. If you were watching the soccer Twitter and not watching the games you would think that the US National Team was last in their group and knocked out if the tournament.
But, they’re not.
In fact, the team finished atop the group and with a solid goal differential. If you look compare this year to the 2015 Gold Cup, the US has put in more goals, had more shots, and held their opponents to less shots. All this with a less-than-stellar lineup.
Coming into the tournament, we knew that Bruce Arena was going to test some different personnel and just get through the group stage. Per the Gold Cup rules, each team still in the tournament is able to switch up to six players on the roster, and we also expected Arena to use all six switches.
The changes for the USMNT were: Tim Howard for Brad Guzan, Jesse Gonzalez for Sean Johnson, Jozy Altidore for Dom Dwyer, Michael Bradley for Alejandro Bedoya, Darlington Nagbe for Cristian Roldan, and Clint Dempsey for Kelyn Rowe.
First thing you’ll notice is the amount of experience that was instantly brought into the squad. Howard, Dempsey, Altidore, and Bradley are all seasoned veterans and all have triple digit caps for the US. The USMNT have pulled back the idea of testing and teaching and will now look to build some momentum going into 2018 by winning an international tournament.
Now again we can look at soccer Twitter and think that he sky is falling, but I think that (almost) all of the changes make sense.
Brad Guzan did not help his case at all. His performance can be described as shaky at best, letting in a soft goal and don’t a meh job of organizing the back line. What hurt Guzan is expectations: we expect he will make the tough saves because we have seen him do it before.
Sean Johnson didn’t do a whole lot so that one makes sense.
Alejandro Bedoya was typical Alejandro Bedoya, very up and down. At this point Bruce knows what he can and will get out of Bedoya, this is the reason why he left camp. He will probably have a very reduced role come Russia.
Cristian Roldan had a decent few games, and he could be a great player for this team, but when you are looking to win a tournament, Roldan is not the man at the moment. Lots of work for Roldan to do, but I expect good things.
Kelyn Rowe was not the player that most were expecting to be impressive, but man, was he good. This roster lacked speed on the wing, but Rowe showed his quality and some pace. I think Rowe was the most rounded player on the field and he showed well. I am taken back as to why Rowe is not traveling for the remainder of the Gold Cup.
Dom Dwyer’s hype train was full speed ahead for good reason. Last game aside, Dwyer had a good Gold Cup. With two goals in three games he was rolling, but unfortunately the options at striker are fairly deep. Again, I don’t agree with Arena - Juan Agudelo should have gone home, but Agudelo can be more dynamic and multi-dimensional when compared to Dom Dwyer.
Here’s the full updated roster:
DEF: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
MID: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
The team is set up to win this tournament, there is more than enough talent on the field. Bruce has done a great job so far and he knows at this point losing is not an option.
Do you like the roster moves? Who would you have brought in or kept in? Let us know in the comments!