Wednesday, June 29, 2011
2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup: What Went Right
I've been strained for time here at NP, but one thing I have made sure to do in my sparse spare time is watch every US match for the entirety of the tournament...expect the final 65 minutes of the final, which would have required me to purchase a new TV. But that's for another post on another day. I want to discuss the positives from the US point of view exiting this tournament.
1.) The Return of Freddy Adu
The US poster boy for over-hype and crazy expectations shut up an entire soccer nation. Millions of US fans, and yours truly, doubted, criticized, and lambasted Bob Bradley for picking a player who hadn't played in the US kit in over two years, nor who had played top flight football for most of the past season. Adu proved everyone wrong, and even showed off a bit of humble pie following his performance against Panama in the semi-finals. It was his inch-perfect pass to Landon Donovan that created the games only goal. Bob Bradley can chalk this one up in the win column. Now all Freddy has to do is find a top flight club where he can get significant minutes, be that in Portugal, Turkey, France, Denmark, wherever. It's impossible not to cheer for Adu at this point.
2.) Offensive Chance Taking
Let me say before I start that this is about CHANCE TAKING, not CHANCE FINISHING. Two completely different things. Through the six Gold Cup matches the United States reeled off an incredible 90 shots for an average of 15 per game. That's an impressive clip and shows signs of a positive offensive mindset. With Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore leading the line (until Altidore's injury in the quarter-finals), the US' attack was taking chances.
3.) US Role Players on the Rise
Kudos to Alejandro Bedoya, who for some peculiar reason was left off the initial Gold Cup roster. Easily earned the US' hustle award for the entirety of the tournament. His high work rate was a welcome jolt of energy in to a defense that seemed more content to keep shape and allow teams to control the ball in front of them. Bedoya's charges turned the ball over in the US' favor and his never-ceasing cascades down the right flank whilst Landon Donovan recover from some unknown ailment made him a all tournament performer in my book for the U.S. Sacha Kljestan is another who's time in Europe is proving key for his development as a player. No longer is he a straight-forward single minded player, but a well rounded central midfielder, able to possess and distribute accordingly.
4.) Left Fullback Conundrum? SolvedWelcome to the show Eric Lichaj. The 22 year old Aston Villa man has made a place for himself on the left flank of the US team. It was Lichaj's inclusion starting with the Guadeloupe game that started a US 3-game shutout run. Lichaj's physical grit and pace down the left flank hasn't been seen since Heath Pearce did so for the US during 2008. This one is solved for Bradley and Co.
So what does everyone think about the positive of the Gold Cup? Any you think I missed? Let me know in the comments!