June 15, 2007

Gold Cup musings...

I've really been enjoying the Gold Cup this year, more than any other edition I can remember. For one, I think the overall level of competition in CONCACAF has risen greatly recently. Even the minnows aren't easy games now (hello, Guadaloupe). Some of my favorite things so far...
  • My favorite game was the Canada-Costa Rica opener. I've never seen a Canadian team play with the skill that they showed. The Mounties are going to be tough to deal with when they get the Double De combo firing. De Guzman has been a revelation in this tournament, and we all know about the greatness of DDR. Costa Rica really needs to make some changes, although they did have a couple of key injuries right before the tournament. Is Medford ready to coach at this level?
  • I posted my thoughts about the US-Guatemala game earlier, but it was a really interesting one to watch as well. Say what you will about their tactics, the Guatemalan team was very well coached and knew exactly what their coach expected from them. They made life as difficult as possible for the US.
  • The Yanks second game with Trinidad was fun to watch, but sloppy as hell. It was like watching a drunken garage band trying to get through a concert. All in all, not too shabby for essentially the US 'B' team.
  • Mexico has definitely been the disappointment of the tournament. How long until Hugo Sanchez really starts feeling the heat? They easily could have lost to Cuba and Panama, and deserved to lose to Honduras (with or without Cuau's moment of madness). Their quarterfinal with Costa Rica will be the battle to see who's disappointed the most.
  • It's fun to see a team like Guadaloupe in this tournament, playing with absolutely nothing to lose. They're just having a good time out there. Sorry for them, they get Honduras on Sunday in the quarters. Honduras should win with ease, they're flying right now.
  • Panama losing their head at the end against Mexico will definitely help the US on Saturday, those two red cards should come back to haunt them.
  • The Guatemala-Canada game should be an interesting chess match. I think Guatemala can shut down the Canadians, but can they generate any offense?
  • My winners for the weekend are the US, Honduras, Mexico, and Guatemala.

9 comments:

POPS94 said...

The biggest US revelation of the tournament might end up being Dempsey at striker. The shot on goal off the outside of his left foot against El Salvador was something that no other US striker has ever brought to the table. Creativity up top has never been part of the US's attack.

Longshoe said...

I've loved the hybrid formation Bradley has been using. Play a true striker up top (I'd say Ching is a slightly better option that Twellman right now, Altidore will be this guy down the road). Play Dempsey behind him in a withdrawn forward/schemer type of slot. Have Beasley and Donovan attacking from wide positions. Two holding mids (any combination of Bradley, Feilhaber, Mastroeni, and/or Clark seem to work well, although Feilhaber has probably shown the most in this tournament) sit in front of the back four.

Technically it might be a 4-5-1, but it looks more like a 4-2-3-1 and plays like a 4-3-3 a lot of the time. I've been really impressed with Bradley as a coach in the last few games.

POPS94 said...

Concur with your observations. I also like Convey or Mapp out on the wings with their abilities to send in crosses. If you have watched the National Team for a lot of years, watching the current team is a rather nice revelation.

I think the current form is a combination of Bradley's tactics and the skilled players that he is now able to use. When you look all over the pitch you see guys doing things that would not have been done, not that many years ago. The individual skills and team play is very refreshing to watch.

The quality continues to improve and the pipeline should continue to produce quality players. The youth team heading to Canada this summer has lots of players that could be competing for key roles on the National team for years to come. There are 3 or 4 quality strikers all competing for time on the under 20 team. I wouldn't write Mr Altidore's name on the starting 11 roster in pen just yet as the forward of the future.

Longshoe said...

The main thing that I've enjoyed is the difference between the 4-5-1 that Bradley has used and the one that Arena used last year in the World Cup. Arena's was a defensive formation, basically saying that we're not good enough to play straight up with teams. Bradley uses it as an attacking setup, with players going at goal from all angles.

I do really like Justin Mapp, he looks more and more dangerous each time he gets out on the field. I'm not quite as sold on Convey, I think the bad luck he's had with injuries has had a hand in that.

I totally agree, the overall level of the US players has risen in recent years, with it only going higher with the next generation. I still think that there's the potential to go so much farther with that development, but that's an entirely different topic.

I agree with the other young forwards as well. Johann Smith and Andre Akpan are two that really stood out to me when I watched the U20 qualifying earlier this year. Akpan is such a smart, creative player that you rarely see here in the US, it's a shame he doesn't get the recognition he deserves. If Bradley sticks with this type of formation, I think Altidore is the best option as the striker. If he goes to a 2 or 3 man forward line, things could change.

Anonymous said...

Guadeloupe all the way...

"The victory by Guadeloupe, a French province, could eventually prove problematic for FIFA should Guadeloupe win the event. The winner of the Gold Cup qualifies for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa and Guadeloupe cannot play in that tournament because FIFA doesn't recognize the Caribbean island as a country."

Longshoe said...

Honduras looks like the best team on the continent in the group stage, then loses to a team that doesn't represent a real country. Shocking...

Same goes for Guatemala, I thought Canada could beat them, but had no idea that it would be a whooping like that. With the exeption of the Guadaloupe match, Canada has looked awfully good.

The US took care of business, even though it wasn't always pretty. Mexico was downright ugly, but also gets through. If they lose to Guadaloupe, Hugo will be in trouble.

Anonymous said...

How can you not get on the Guadeloupe band wagon? I hope they win the whole tournament and the US can go to the Confederations Cup on a technicality.

Anonymous said...

Shhh...

Nobody tell FIFA that Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland aren't countries either.

Longshoe said...

TEH INTERNETZ would melt down if Guadeloupe beat the US to win the Gold Cup. BigSoccer would shut down in a matter of seconds...