U.S. Men's National Team

Gold Cup Group C set up for a nerve-wracking final day


photo by John Dorton/ISIphotos.com


TAMPA – The results in Group C began as expected, but Panama's 2-1 upset win over the U.S. men's national team on Saturday night has made Tuesday a vital day for all four top teams in the group.

Canada won in uninspiring fashion over Guadeloupe, needing a Dwayne De Rosario penalty kick to defeat a team playing with 10 men for nearly the entire game. But that result, combined with the Americans' surpise defeat, has allowed every team to still have a realistic chance of qualifying for the knockout phase of the tournament.

That the Americans are entering essentially a must-win game against Guadeloupe is nothing but surprising, and Saturday's result was just equally as disappointing.

"We've got to learn something from it, but that doesn't help us for Tuesday," said Landon Donovan following the 2-1 loss. "Tuesday we've got to turn around and make sure we're ready to play. We've got to win Tuesday, see what else happens and see where we end up. We're still fine, we've just got to make sure we learn some lessons from tonight."

Whatever lessons they may be, the United States needs a win, not only to secure qualification but also to restore some team confidence. 

Head coach Bob Bradley said following Tuesday's loss that with only two days to prepare for the match at Livestrong Sporting Park, he's going to consider changes. Some of the positions where changes might come are in central defense, central midfield and at forward.

"We just look at ourselves and see the areas where we think we need to improve in order to continue to move forward in this tournament," said Bradley.

Even if the Americans progress to the next stage of the tournament, just who they will play ranges anywhere from Costa Rica to in-form Jamaica to archrival Mexico. That will be determined via the U.S. team's result on Tuesday as well as other results throughout the tournament.

For the United States, however, no result is as important as Canada versus Panama.

The two teams will do battle on Tuesday prior to the U.S. team's game versus Guadeloupe, so the Americans will know what kind of result they'll need in order to advance, or maybe even win the group.

All that means is that the United States is in for an intense final day of the group stages, a day where its result and another will determine its future in the tournament.


What do you think of Group C? What type of result are you expecting out of Canada-Panama? Do you still believe the Americans can win the group?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Brett

    Not relevant. The refs didn’t make us give up 2 goals against Slovenia, and the refs didn’t make Bob Bradley start Rico Clark against Ghana. Winning the group easily and winning the group by the skin of our teeth both result in us playing Ghana, and there’s no way to explain away that result other than to point the finger directly at the leadership.

    I’m done being an apologist and passing the blame to FIFA, or refs, or anybody else. Bradley has not moved the program forward since 2007, and in some ways, it seems to have regressed.


  • YO

    I hope we play Mexico right away so we can get it out of the way and fire BB already.


  • Roy

    Actually, I wish we played Copa America every time, tested ourselves against tough south american nations, even if it means getting our heads handed to us time and again. It would be good for the young players especially to face Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. We shouldn’t be afraid to fail and shouldn’t take too much pleasure in Gold Cup victories, to be honest. I mean, if we manage to beat Guadeloupe and scrape into the knockout round I’m not going to be swelling with false pride.


  • FredMacMurray

    maybe i need to watch that again – i watched that reply a few times during the game and Boca was, for some reason, 10 yds upfield at that point, and it seemed to me your defenders ought to be in the box defending, and not relying on strikers to do the defending. But i see Ives also partly blamed Jozy for that goal in his Fox piece.


  • DC Josh

    I am glad there will be changes in central midfield. Jones and Bradley just don’t work well together. Bradley was coming back WAY too deep, collecting the ball near his own 18 yard box. I thought Kljestan did very well Saturday and deserves a start alongside Bradley – Jones had a very bad game. Having two defensive-minded central midfielders just kills the game unless there is an attacking central player ahead of them in a withdrawn forward role. We miss Holden badly, but Kjlestan had a good year in Belgium and could have himself a good tournament if given the chance.


  • zuid

    It pains me to admit but I almost wish the US come up with another disastrous result just so Bob get’s the ax. Almost.

    I liked him for the job through the end of the WC but really wanted to see a change at the helm for the GC and upcoming WC qualifying cycle. We needed progression not stagnation, yet we see regression.

    I need to see Gooch in place of Ream and Dempsey up TOP against Guadeloupe in order to have any faith in Bob restored.


  • TommyOC

    Reports were that Landon has been ill since the Spain match. I don’t.care if you’re a regular Joe or top-tier athlete: you get a flu or other bad virus and while you ought be symptom-free after a week, it can take you several more to return to 100%. For most of us, we can function at 90% for a bit and no one would notice. But not being 100% is easily noticeable to a professional athlete.

    Landon’s comment wasn’t about his season workload – it was specific to his illness recovery as hes been otherwise in form this season. Cut the guy some slack – hes entitled to get sick on occasion… even when its inconvenient for us fans.


  • FredMacMurray

    OK i found a good replay – and I blame Jozy AND Boca on that goal. You are correct Josy had the outside man on that play, and did nothing to defend him. Both Jozy and Boca stepped up to trap after the deflected free kick, but everyone else did not (at least not evenly). Boca then realized and started to run back to the box, but in a sort of half-hearted jog. Jozy just stood there with his hand up calling (incorrecly) the offside.

    A very telling play about the mental state of the team at that point in the game actually- and i think a much more important play than anybody is talking about. I actually thinked the game turned on that play. Panama’s confidence surged, and they were able to keep 4 back to defend, not needing the goal. Se we faced a pretty solid wall each time in their area…


  • McQ

    I think if the US fails to get out of the group Bradley should be fired end of story if not fired anyway. How many times do we find ourselves in this situation – relying on other results to pull our bacon out of the fire? His teams have never started quickly and for four years he has not figured out how to solve this. We need someone who can shake things up and put us into a position to win and advance on our own.


  • Ted

    I think Dempsey needs to play up top this tournament. He doesn’t play defense and his man was playing unmarked going forward all night Saturday. Obviously, he’s our top offensive talent. He needs to be on the field. I can, without a doubt, tell you he is better than Altidore or Agudelo. Dempsey needs to either play as a striker or as an attacking mid.

    I think we need to bring Bornstein or Lichaj in to play left marking back and slide Boca in to play for Ream.

    Team really needs a healthy stu holden. On another note, why not bring davies in to get some time with the team and achieve a level of comfort and fitness with the boys. I mean, Adu’s spot is just a waste.

    Trying to be positive, but man, IT’S TOUGH!


  • Brett

    I noticed this too, and I believe it is because Dempsey was tasked to say forward in the attack and let Jones and Bradley stretch across to cover the left side in front of Bocanegra. I also noticed that Bocanegra was getting forward in very advanced positions and not getting back quickly enough to defend when we inevitably lost the ball.

    So, he WAS playing attacking mid on the left when you think about it. The problem with pushing Dempsey to the top of the formation is it limits his opportunities to get involved and tires him out too early. His work rate is already on the poor side. That’s why Bob likes to move him up late in games because by then he won’t have to chase the ball around the back of the opposing defense.

    What we really need is pretty simple. The starting 11 was fine, it’s the tactics and shape that need improvement. What we do with the ball, we do fairly well. Knock it around the back, switch the point, let the wings get forward, put in the cross… The real problem is that strategy is almost as outdated as leather balls and thigh-high shorts.

    What we need, and I lamented this several times against Panama, is to play in transition and attack at speed. Many times against Panama we had chances to play cutting balls and put players into space with through passes, and instead our ball-possessor simply turned around and played it backwards. This is fine for getting numbers forward, but Panama could have been caught flat-footed if our team was more intent on playing quickly and aggressively. This, more than anything, is what makes me sad to watch Mexico, because they do it so well.


  • Ted

    Thanks Brett. I hear ya. But why not just start Dempsey up front instead of waiting until the 65th minute? Start Bedoya or Sacha out on the right wing. Bring Agudelo in as a striker sub in second half.

    Those calling for Gooch in the lineup…well, I think it’s obvious he’d finished, but I see your point in calling for a change given our central defenders performance.

    We’re aging on the back line. Ideally, I’d like to see Lichaj and Chandler at the marking back spots…but, who knows if that’ll happen in the future.

    A question, do you guys think Bradley will get axed if (meaning if we even get to that stage) and when Mexico trounces US in the finals?


  • sjr

    Call Panama’s PK whatever you want. Ream flat out kicked the guy in the midsection and he went down. A goal is a goal.


  • Luis

    well considering the lineup the US had, a lose was not that suprising..


    Jay heaps




    where are they now???


  • Primoone

    I know we have issues with regards to player development. I get that. That is a really valid point and the main reason why the US cannot compete with most of the best teams in the world. However, it is no excuse for our guys to come out starting like that against a team in Concacaf. Don’t you agree? What do you think were the reasons why they came out like that?

    With that said, the angle of approach I took reflects on the coaches ability to get these guys prepared and inspired. That result is not about our players ability to compete with respect to talent on our field as evident by the chances we had to equalize or even win the game late. The coach does not take blame for missing those sitters. I get that also. However, you state some examples about how the US is always coming from behind no matter what coach is at the helm. You can’t really argue about that because there is some truth in that. However, just because you have really talented players doesnt mean they are goign to perform at their best as a unit. Am I off base? I remember the days when friedel had hair as well as Bora’s tenure I even go back to the days of watching them play college teams as well as exebitions with teams comprised mostly of indoor players. I have watched them for some time now however, it is you that may not know that there is another way to play, coach and develop the beautiful game. Your analysis with respect to head coaches reaks of a youth and inexperience with a touch of that American arrogance that you speak of. You make excuses for the coach yet fail to realize that every team around you seems to follow a different type of philosophy regarding head-coaches. Maybe you are on to something here! Something that these countries havn’t picked up on their 100+ years of footballing experience…NO. I seriously doubt it.

    You made the arguement that our style of play is to get scored on first then that will motivate us to come from behind and win (which is a direct reflection of our inability to develop players here in the country). And I am not quoting however, it is the main gist of your arguement. Again, kicking that same can down the road about players needing to take responsibility for their unmotivated play as well as the coach not having that much influence on their players, in light of the small amount of time they get them for, is complete rubbish. You drink the kool-aid that Murinho serves regarding the influence he has on his team, yet his pay-check, results and the respect his players have for him say something different. It is no coincidence that when this man comes in; there is a difference in the attitudes of the players. With respect to talent and class, these players were the same players before he came in. The best money can buy…? I’m not buying it.

    Ok MW, I give. I think we should give Bradley a lifetime contract. Bradley doesn’t have that much influence on our boys anyways. Right? In addition to this, since our boys can’t get up for these games, we should just replace all of our players with those that are in the right frame of mind. Right? Because our coach has little influence on them.

    I don’t expect to blow out teams. We are not built for that type of output. Truth be told, we do have the tools to play different styles but player selection and formation is a different issue. However, what we do have is heart, mental fortitude, athleticism and a will to win. That is part of our fabric. Not the (come from behind because we don’t want to lose) style of play. And because we don’t have that many resources to use then guess what? The mental aspect and preparation become pivotal and when we come out flat, that my friend falls on the shoulders of the head coach. Like it or not. Sunil sees this as well as the rest of the board that runs USSF as evident by their courting of a European coach two cycles running. However, they are not willing to give up too much control. Tell me, if the coach wasn’t so important, then why try and get their first choice coach Klinsman? The US has always resisted much of what the world has taught us about the game however; eventually we buy into it and incorporate it into our own processes on every level from Claudio Reyna borrowing from the Dutch youth development to Sunil actively looking for a technical director. The time will come when the USSF will start to have heads rolling at the head-coaching level just like every other successful footballing nation.


  • deepm

    I think you’re wrong. In both their games they had a player sent off and still managed to put up a fight.

    They are a pesky team and don’t give up easily.


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