Did people really question whether Jurgen Klinsmann should have added four players to his roster ahead of the Gold Cup elimination matches … or is that some weird dream I had after another round of late-night spicy burritos?
Because I didn’t get it; I could not see the possible harm of adding talented reinforcements. I understand about team accord and issues with chemistry, but it’s not like they were adding men who have yet to prove their worth in the national shirt. (Not in three of the four cases, at least; adding reserve forward Alan Gordon was more about cover in replacing the injured Herculez Gomez.)
Now, after seeing Matt Besler work so well in tandem with Clarence Goodson (pictured) on Wednesday outside Dallas, and after seeing all of Eddie Johnson’s good work over two games (scoring just 14 seconds after running onto the field against El Salvador, then filling the semifinal night with sharp runs and yet another goal), I cannot imagine that anybody is still complaining.
The U.S. manager’s choice to bring in three men from the fast swimmers’ side of the player pool (Besler, Johnson and Omar Gonzalez) does give the U.S. manager a tough choice ahead of Sunday’s final in Chicago.
If Gonzalez and Besler are your first-choice center backs, and if both players are in camp, then you’ve probably already got your answer. On the other hand, Goodson has been quite effective along the U.S. back line in the Gold Cup, no matter who has been positioned alongside.
The defending has always been reliable fro Goodson, and Wednesday at Cowboys Stadium saw his long-range passing at its very best, lovely balls played into areas that turned into U.S. opportunities. One turned into a U.S. goal.
Then again, there is a critical job ahead in dealing with big, physical Panamanian striker Blas Perez, who has three goals in the tournament. Gonzalez, a well-balanced 6-foot-5, is better equipped to deal Perez, whose combination of size, reasonable pace, aggressive ways and shrewd runs have made him one of the region’s premier strikers.
There is always a chance Goodson could partner with Gonzalez. Besler has started the last two matches; he would be playing a third contest over eight days by getting the start Sunday at Soldier Field.