Your levels of incredulity may vary, but there are three names notably missing from the United States’ starting XI for this afternoon’s Gold Cup final: Omar Gonzalez, Mikkel Diskerud and Jose Torres.
Torres is always a debated presence, but coming off a decent semifinal against Honduras, the Tigres man didn’t seem likely to lose his first choice spot along the U.S. left – the midfield spot he’d occupied through most of the tournament. But when U.S. Soccer announced Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting XI for today’s match, Torres was missing. Instead, Joe Corona and Alejandro Bedoya are set to occupy the wide spots in midfield.
To Bedoya’s credit, he took advantage the opportunity he was given on Wednesday. Reviews were mixed, but the bottom line seems to have won out. He played a part in two goals, and although his contributions elsewhere were more debated among onlookers, the coaching staff didn’t seem to have the same misgivings. The Helsingborgs man secured a return engagement.
Another surprise, one that will cause many U.S. fans to rejoice, is the inclusion of Stuart Holden. This one is a bit of a head scratcher given Holden started on Wednesday, has a quick turnaround, and Mikkel Diskerud has generally played well. It’s hard not to look at this through the prism of Holden’s knee injuries, but given the player has said he’s fine, the more relevant question may be what Holden has done relative to Diskerud to justify this move. Obviously the coaching staff has their reasons, but throughout the tournament, it’s been difficult to see where Holden’s outplayed his competition.
At the back, Gonzalez’s absence was less surprising but no less worthy of discussion. Perhaps deservedly, Clarence Goodson has kept his spot to the right of Matt Besler in the U.S.’s back four. Of course, this prompts the question: Why was Gonzalez even called up from the LA Galaxy at the end of group stage? Plans change, you can’t live in the past, etc., but from the Galaxy’s point of view, it’s difficult not to feel screwed.
It’s also difficult to truly believe Goodson is the better defender than Gonzalez, thought this tournament has never been about starting your best team. It has, however, been about making the best use of the squad that was called in. Does Goodson’s start do that?
The full XI:
G: Nick Rimando
LB: DaMarcus Beasley
LCB: Matt Besler
RCB: Clarence Goodson
RB: Michael Parkhurst
DM: Kyle Beckerman
M: Alejandro Bedoya
CM: Mikkel Diskerud
M: Joe Corona
SS: Landon Donovan
ST: Eddie Johnson