CONCACAF Gold Cup 2007
|Yes, it's that time again. The best teams from North America, Central American, and the Caribbean get together to determine the best team in the confederation via the Gold Cup, which starts today. Peter Goldstein at Planet World Cup has the best preview, while Ives gives it a go as well. The big news this time is that there are no longer any guest teams in the tournament. That's great news, as no longer can we be embarrassed by the likes of South Korea or Brazil's U-23 squad doing well in OUR continental championship. CONCACAF tournaments should develop CONCACAF teams. Of course, the USA and Mexico shouldn't be in the Copa America either, and we all know that a combined North/South American cup would be the best option.|
Enough about that, let's not get sidetracked. This is Bob Bradley's first real test, and unfortunately for him success won't change many opinions; winning the tournament is expected. The only way he'll really prove something is if we play Mexico and beat them on the way to the title.
I expect to see the following lineup for the USA:
Howard, Bornstein, Bocanegra, Onyewu, Hejduk, Beasley, Clark, Mastroeni, Dempsey, Donovan, Johnson.
Howard was named the starter by Bradley. The center backs are obvious choices, while Bornstein has played well in friendlies. I have Hejduk starting because he seems to be the epitome of the mystical "veteran leadership" you always hear about. He's also probably a better offensive weapon than the other two (Spector/Simek), and with the weak opposition he can get forward a lot. But would he even be here if Chris Albright was healthy? Bradley and Feilhaber are very good young prospects. Having said that, our strongest central midfield pairing is currently Clark-Mastroeni, and Bradley likes it too (see the Mexico game). Johnson is too hot to sit, while Donovan will always be on the field.
I just read last night that Mastroeni is suspended for the first two games, stemming from his World Cup red card. Remember how he got banned for a couple additional games? I didn't. At least he can serve it here and not in World Cup qualifying. Fielhaber will probably step in.
1) The most interesting player to see (by far) will be Guadalupe's Jocelyn Angloma, a former French international who played for them in Euro 1996. Can he still play well at 41? He better, if they want to have any chance at all. Everyone also seems excited about Panama's Blas Perez, who just scored two goals against Boca Juniors in the Copa Libertadores. I'll be excited to see Amado Guevara back in action again, as well (you traitor).
2) Have you been wondering what Keyeno Thomas has been up to ever since his 2000 stint with the Colorado Rapids? Me neither. But he's here as part of Trinidad's squad, along with fellow middling ex-MLSer Gary Glasgow. The Soca Warriors will be fielding a very weak squad due to disputes with their World Cup veterans; all but one player is local. From the USA perspective, it's likely we'll see Keller and the rest of the reserves in the USA-TRI match.
MLSnet has a rundown of former players in the tournament here.
3) Despite the Trinidad situation, overall it seems like this tournament is being taken more seriously by all involved. No surprise since the 2005 version was in the middle of World Cup qualifying, and also since we don't have a second string Colombian side like usual. I talked about the lack of guest teams earlier. Interestingly, they only had a record of 16-16-12 in all editions of the tournament. So they didn't dominate the tournament, despite three finishing as runners up.
4) Last time, we saw the group format changed from 4 group of 3 teams to 3 groups of 4 teams. Now we have the elimination of guest teams. Two great decisions in a row. What's up at CONCACAF, is Jack Warner asleep or something? What's next, holding it every four years like it should be? Or having a real draw and not just placing teams in certain cities (Haiti = Miami)?
5) The golden boot winner, who will it be? I would say that this time an American should win it again, due to the weakness of our group compared to Mexico.
1991-Benjamin Galindo (MEX)
1996-Eric Wynalda (USA)
1998-Luis Hernandez (MEX) & Paulo Wanchope (CR)
2000-Carlo Corazzin (CAN)
2002-Brian McBride (USA)
2003-Walter Centeno (CR) & Landon Donovan (USA)
2005-DaMarcus Beasley (USA)
For 2005, I believe for the first time they used assists as the tiebreaker (which FIFA started doing a few years ago). So that's why Beasley won it.
6) It's too easy to give predictions (USA vs MEX final anyone?), so here's how I feel the teams rank on paper:
2. United States
3. Costa Rica
9. El Salvador
10. Trinidad & Tobago