Jurgen Klinsmann surprised with three changes to his starting lineup for tonight’s semifinals, and the results speak for themselves. While it wasn’t their most lopsided scoreline of the tournament, it was the U.S.’s best performance, their 3-1 win over Honduras vaulting them into a fifth-straight Gold Cup final.
How much did those changes (or, in one case, lack of a change) influence tonight’s match? It depends on which switch you’re looking at.
So let’s look at them all:
1. Eddie Johnson starts for Chris Wondolowski – Through the first 45 minutes, you could make an argument Johnson was the team’s most influential player. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with you (that Landon guy significantly deviated from the mean), but I’d recognize you had a really strong claim. Either way, Johnson provided further context to the “Wondo” debate that was sparked in group play.
2. Alejandro Beyoda starts for Joe Corona – Opinion seemed split on Bedoya. I am firmly in the “meh” camp. Others thought he was fine. But “fine” wasn’t going to make anybody forget Joe Corona, even if Bedoya played a necessary role on the third goal.
3. Stuart Holden starts for Mikkel Diskerud – Holden may not have had as much impact going forward, but he was very solid in the middle. His natural tendencies saw him dropping deeper than the more attack-minded Diskerud, meaning his impact we different, not necessarily less. Against a poor Honduras team, having Diskerud on may have led to a more lopsided score, but the U.S. didn’t come close to needing a buffer. And Mix got a little rest for Sunday.
4. Omar Gonzalez doesn’t start for Clarence Goodson – Given the extent to which the U.S. defense has been tested in the first four rounds, the U.S. might as well let `Lexi and Cello dust off the boots and get 90 minutes. Still, just as Oguchi Onyewu was judged harshly for Cuba’s goal, we have to ask how Goodson loses the battle and allowed Honduras’s goal. Hey, it happens to the best of them, but when it does, sometimes you get to ask Why wasn’t Omar playing?