It would have taken a Panamanian upset and a good individual performance for Canaleros striker Gaby Torres to steal this award. Even then, it would have been close. Instead, Torres will have to content himself with sharing the 2013 Gold Cup’s Golden Boot. The tournament’s Most Valuable Player was destined to be Donovan’s.
Of his team’s 20 Gold Cup goals, Donovan played a part in 12 of them, scoring five times while assisting or being part of the buildup in in seven others. Depending on how you look at Sunday’s goal, that total may be eight “others,” if you want to give Donovan the benefit of the doubt for freezing the goalkeeper ahead of his whiff on Alejandro Bedoya’s cross.
But that miss stands in stark contrast to an otherwise dominant tournament. Rivaling the performance we saw from Mexico’s Giovani dos Santos two years ago (curiously, not named MVP), Donovan was clearly the tournament’s top star, a status the will embolden claims the national team icon should be back in the full senior squad. After taking a soccer sabbatical this winter, Donovan hasn’t been selected for Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup Qualifying team, but after using this tournament to reaffirm his international case, it’s difficult to see Donovan not being called into a full squad.
On an individual level, that’s what this tournament was about for Donovan. In a “down” Gold Cup, his name stood out in a list of squads that lacked their top players. Donovan, however, needed to work his way back in. Winning the tournament’s MVP while helping his team to first place, there’s little more the U.S. icon could have done to reestablish himself with his national team.