There’s plenty of quality on the U.S. Gold Cup roster, surely enough to plow through group play against regional small fries Belize and Cuba, and hold its own against stronger Costa Rica.
But could there have been a little more quality, still?
(MORE: Klinsmann names Gold Cup roster)
And could there have been slightly more diversity from this roster to the one that just saw the United States so deftly navigate a four-week run of heavy-hitter friendlies and important World Cup qualifiers? For instance, don’t we all know what Edgar Castillo and Michael Orozco bring to the party? And should Chris Wondolowski, nowhere near 2012 form and having gotten previous chances with the full U.S. team, be part of this Gold Cup Cup roster?
Here are five MLS men I would have liked to have seen in the Gold Cup mix (listed alphabetically):
- Juan Agudelo: Having gotten lost in the organizational chaos that is Chivas USA, Agudelo (pictured on the left) is looking increasingly settled at New England. Don’t forget, this guy is still just 20 years old. It just seems like he’s been around a lot longer.
- FC Dallas’ George John: He’s a better passer than Omar Gonzalez and equal in ball winning to Matt Besler, the current first choice men in central defense under Jurgen Klinsmann. And John is better in most areas than Orozco. So …
- Chicago Fire’s Mike Magee: He is in stunning form, scoring again and again for Chicago, now with goals in all seven matches with the Fire since coming over from the LA Galaxy. (His latest came in a U.S. Open Cup win over Orlando City.) Simply put, in form and confidence, Magee is in a much better place at the moment that Wondolowski.
- New York Red Bulls Dax McCarty: Injuries have prevented the New York Red Bulls central midfielder from being quite his dominant 2012 self, but he’s still got the right blend of technical merit, tenacity and know-how to gobble up the midfield on his good days.
- Philadelphia Union’s Amobi Okugo: Another center back, one having a great year for Philadelphia. Plus, his versatility – the Union man can also play as a holding midfielder – makes the 22-year-old American worth introducing into the full national team sooner rather than later.
The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes is off to a flying start.
As it stands, the 3-0 halftime lead provided by Sebastian Lletget, Michael Bradley, and Clint Dempsey has the Yanks up from sixth to fourth in the Hex table.
Sebastian Lletget scored a fifth minute goal to ease the tensions of the Avaya Stadium crowd in San Jose, though he’d leave the match with injury before the match was 20 minutes old.
Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal.
[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]
Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.
Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.
It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.
What. A. Pass. Kid.
USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks, Cameron; Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.
Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′)
The United States starts to make amends for its 0-2 start to the final round of World Cup qualifying with a match against Honduras on Friday in San Jose.
Losses to Mexico and Costa Rica cost Jurgen Klinsmann his job and Bruce Arena will try things differently
[ LIVE – Play-by-play via @USSoccer ]
Most importantly for Arena, Geoff Cameron and Tim Howard are available this time around.
Cameron starts at right back, with John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez in the center of the back four. Jorge Villafana slots into the mix at left back.
Captain Michael Bradley will sit atop the midfield, with Darlington Nagbe, Sebastian Lletget, and Christian Pulisic in the midfield.
Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are the forwards. Kickoff is set for 10:55 p.m. EDT from Avaya Stadium.
Minnesota United attacker Kevin Molino has given Trinidad and Tobago life in the race to win a spot at the 2018 World Cup.
Molino’s 37th minute goal gave hosts T&T a 1-0 lead against visiting Panama at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain on Friday, and the Soca Warriors held on to win its first points of qualifying.
Panama had a Luis Tejada goal controversially ruled offside as Los Canaleros nearly pulled their fifth point of the Hex. Panama faces the USMNT on Tuesday in Panama City.
[ WATCH: Zaha scores wonder vs. Russia ]
Molino fooled long time LA Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a low shot across the body. The Panama backstop couldn’t get low enough or far enough with his dive to stop the shot.
The win has T&T in fifth place on the Hex table, behind Honduras on goal differential and three points ahead of the last place USMNT.
The U.S. needs a two-goal win to pass T&T, and a three-goal win to climb above Honduras.
Wilfried Zaha combined balance, deft touch, and breakneck speed to score his first international goal for the Ivory Coast.
With his side leading Russia 1-0 on Friday, the Crystal Palace winger worked his way through four defenders before burying his shot.
[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]
Zaha especially fooled with Ilya Kutepov, a harsh cut nearly tipping both to the field.
He’s just 24, and it seems much longer ago that he made his failed move to Manchester United in 2013.
Failed may be a rough verb considering it all contributed to making him the player he is for Crystal Palace and Ivory Coast today.