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USMNT enters group-stage finale against Guadeloupe focusing on win, qualification


Photo by Rick Osentoski/



KANSAS CITY, Kan. – As far as the Gold Cup is concerned, the U.S. men's national team is entering uncharted territory.

The Americans have never needed a result in a Gold Cup group stage finale as badly as they will when they face Guadeloupe (9 p.m, Fox Soccer Channel/Telefutura) at brand new Livestrong Sporting Park.

The U.S. team needs a win to guarantee a top-two finish in Group C, and there are scenarios in which it could finish atop the group should Canada defeat Panama by a certain number of goals. But the Americans aren't focused on what-ifs, they are just determined to win and reach the knockout phase of the tournament.

"We know that the other day wasn't our best day," said head coach Bob Bradley following Monday's training session. "And now we reinforce some of the things that are important and understand that the game against Guadeloupe is still a hard game and now we go out and get the result and move on."

Moving on is exactly what the players have said they've done since the surprise 2-1 defeat to Panama last Saturday, and that mental toughness will need to be carried over versus a Guadeloupe team that has proven to be a tough test so far in the tournament.

Having played much of its Gold Cup campaign with 10 men due to an ejection in each of its first two games, Guadeloupe looks like an undisciplined unit. That unit has its share of talent, though, especially in the attack where Brice Jovial has scored two goals.

"I expect them to play like a Caribbean team; work hard, fast, and athletic team," U.S. forward Juan Agudelo said. "But we're just going to focus on our game and see if it works out."

The United States will also need focus on being cautious defensively, as six of its players have yellow cards, with one more against Guadeloupe meaning a suspension for the quarterfinals.

Bradley isn't too perturbed by that stat, pointing to the Americans' disciplined efforts in years passed.

"You look back at yellow cards sometimes and in the heat of the game you question them," said Bradley. "But we've had a good record of discipline over the years understanding these kind of things and we'll deal with it at this point."

What the U.S. team should address is how it starts the game. Its lackadaisical approach to the Panama match resulted in a two-goal deficit at halftime, and it is something the Americans cannot afford to let happen again, not with so much on the line.

The United States will need to push the game from the start, just as it did when it played Canada in the first round of the group stage matches. Michael Bradley and whoever partners next to him will need to control the midfield and help dictate the tempo; the fullbacks will need to get forward and help the attack; and the forwards will need to be more productive if they hope to help the U.S. team win in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd at Livestrong Sporting Park.

"It's not going to be easy, but it's better to lose a game earlier in a tournament than later on," Landon Donovan said. "We're going to give it everything we have, and we'll see what happens."

Following the Panama game, Bob Bradley mentioned that changes would be considered due to the quick turnaround. A couple of players who could be inserted into the starting lineup are Alejandro Bedoya and Sacha Kljestan. The two midfielders came off the bench and provided a spark for the Americans, and they may be counted on to bring some creativity to the team.

"Your mindset changes a little bit when you start a game," Bedoya said. "You just focus on doing the things well for the team, being organized and trying to play a full 90 minutes. It's a lot different than coming in as a sub, where as a sub my first thing like in a game against Panama, the only thing you're thinking about is just get a spark, provide some energy, do some good things with the ball and lift the team."

The United States can still secure a spot in knockout phase of the tournament without a win, but that isn't what the Americans want. What they want is to win their second game of the tournament, secure qualification and continue their march towards the Gold Cup final.

Guadeloupe is what stands in their way, and although the Caribbean nation may not seem like a threat on paper, the Americans know not to overlook an opponent.

"We expect a hard game. Guadeloupe is a talented team," Bob Bradley said. "Past Gold Cups show that as well, so we understand what the game is like and now we just prepare ourselves. Our team has always responded really well coming back from games we weren't satisfied with and I know that will be the case."

That better hold true, or the United States could be facing an early and embarassing exit from a tournament it has dreams of winning.


  1. So, because he had a back injury in March he can’t be in the squad in June? He was playing full 90 minutes for Norwich in April and May so he must have recovered from the injury. I think I’m going to have to go with Johnny Thunder on this one.

  2. The card system in general is the dumbest thing on the planet. Not a single other sport has no gradation in penalties between “irrelevant warning” and “ejection and your team can’t ever replace you, plus you miss the next match.”

    Imagine if (American) football refs had only two penalties: warn a guy and replay the down, or eject the player and make that team play 10 against 11 for the rest of the game. It’s ludicrous. Intermediate-severity penalties exist for a reason.

  3. Uh, you realize the US basically did that in 2007, right?

    (And, not surprisingly, the US “B” team got slaughtered. I venture to say you should probably wait and see how Mexico’s “B” team does in that event before crowning their a**es.)

  4. From your lips to God’s ears baby!
    We have been left stranded, jilted, alone at the altar twice now by Jurgie Klinsky-kinsman.
    Don’t hold your breath.

    But I agree, if the third’s the charm, then he might be a very good change for our national team, for US Soccer in general.

  5. How the heck did I become a BB apologist? It’s not like I think he’s awesome. I railed against Sunil for not hiring Klinsy the first time. I just think some of the criticism is unreasonable and unsupportable.

  6. Not sure what you are basing this on. If the program and talent pool is what you are disappointed in, then you should be ranting about Sunil, not Bob. Bob doesn’t develop the talent, he just plays them.

    I really disagree with the comment about questionable roster selection. If you’re interested in development and you’ve been around through past coaching eras, you have to realize that BB has been MUCH more proactive about bringing in new guys and slotting young players into his lineup than past regimes. Remember how we used to see the same damn 15 guys trotted out year after year after year under Samson and Arena, even in meaningless friendlies? The one area Bob has been best in is in dipping his foot into the player pool more than any other previous coach. The lackadaisical starts, certainly are an issue I’ll give you, but the team has generally played hard, albeit with gaps under Bob.

    Until a proven, world class better candidate arrives, Bob is a solid guy, unless you feel like the team just needs a shakeup but that’s very tough to assert so early in the WC cycle.

  7. I would like to see either Donovan or Dempsey moved to a withdrawn forward role with Sacha playing on the wing. The pressure certainly is on, but this should be a very easy victory for us.

  8. You wrote so much it’s hard to agree or disagree. I’ll single out your remarks about Donovan not taking on players,which I agree 100% with. Donovan has not only not done enough this tournament, he has done little. Mostly he has passed the ball off to Cherundolo on overlapping runs. He seems very unwilling to take on opponents one on one even deep into the other sides final third. I don’t understand the aversion to risk at that point. He seem so worried about a counter-attack that he is unwilling to attack himself. He’d rather have Cherundolo cross in from out wide.

    That is my criticism of Donovan for THIS tournament. I’m not attacking his status as a great player. Clearly IMO Dempsey is our best player in this tourney, and I don’t put Donovan number at number 2.

    Please don’t say Donovan made the cross that Goodson scored on. It’s a corner kick, he ought to be able to get that on target away from the keeper.

  9. I think the gist of this conversation is that there has been a pattern of questionable roster selections and lackadaisical play under bob. These assertions aren’t solely based on one match, rather that one match (panama) sums up how our guys have played and have been coached. True, bob has done more than lots of previous coaches, but those of us who have been following the US Soccer program since the Gansler era feel like the program is too inconsistent and hasn’t developed enough given the talent pool we have (we’re a big country) and the resources we have. Bob has contributed well and its time for him to step aside.

  10. Oh my God, people have to relax a little. We had one (admittedly horrific) loss. It’s great to switch things up a bit sometimes, but too many changes just destabilizes a team and ruins its chances to advance. Some of these fire the coach and turn over half the team ideas are pure panic. A few things:

    1) Bob Bradley is not the worst coach in the world (nor is he the best). He is a decent coach, a pretty good man manager who won a World Cup group, something not many USMNT managers can say. Is he my first choice, probably not, but he is a proven solid, intelligent, organized, capable manager who is nowhere near the fool some of you are making him out to be. If you think that, it probably reflect more upon you than it does him.

    2) The US is still a low level soccer power with a low level league. Be realistic. We don’t have scads of scary talent waiting in the wings to replace our starters. I’d love to see some guys like Adu that would give us a different look, but wholesale changes are not the answer in tournament play. New guys will get looks in a substitute role and, if successful, slowly integrated into the starting unit. The place for crazy lineup turnover is in Friendly matches, not Gold Cup.

    3) Let’s not put too much stock in one bad game. It happens. Did Spain make massive changes when they lost to USA in Confed? Let’s look for patterns. The only really bad recent history patterns repeated in the Panama game were the bad start, the gaffes in central defense, and the difficulty in the final third. The final third problem is one we’ve had throughout our history and always will until we have skilled depth throughout our midfield and forwards capable of stringing together passes and finishing. Nothing we can do – not there yet. The center back problem is self evident – it’s a down period right now for that position. The bad starts, well, that’s on Bob and all the players – Bob needs to figure out ways to motivate the team through the first 30.

    Everything else, as far as I can tell, is pretty much just on one bad game. Let’s not go crazy after one game.

  11. I’m normally the eternal optimist however I think if Bob is let go were not going to get Biesla, Klinsmann or Hiddink. I just don’t think the USA job, especially with the amount of turnover coming in the US player pool is a job Hiddink or Biesla would rate high enough. And unless we grant Klinsmann the control he wants we won’t get him either.

    I feel like we end up getting someone from the MLS like Kinnear or Kreis.

  12. Reason 1 – Hate 0. No problem with people being critical of Bob, especially those critical of what I believe have been our two biggest problems. (1) Slow start problem (with the exception of Canada and Paraguay) and (2) our lack of execution in the final third. Defense to me is more of a turn over in player pool problem, however an argument could be made that Bob has not handled well.

    However, to get to my real point, I just find Johnny Thunders post unnecessary as it seem to be a knew jerk visceral reaction, unless of course its meant as a joke which is tough to tell on these boards.

  13. What is your reasoning for Wondo? He was probably the worst player on the field against Panama. He couldn’t convert from directly in front of the open net when served a brilliant ball from Altidore right on his foot.

  14. Herculez and Wondo were scoring the most so you are correct in saying they were the most in form finishers. However, I watched quite a bit of Jozy’s play and though he was not scoring he was playing well in more of a wing oriented roll. I would have liked to see rogers dropped for Mix, Bedoya (pre Feilhaber injury) or Gomez. That said I still think Jozy’s play earned him a call up and mainly because Davies, and I have watched every single DC United game, was not ready in my opinion. God bless him he has worked immensly hard to get back from injury and has been scoring and I think if not for that hamstring pull I think he would have been ready. Missing 2 – 1/2 games really slowed his return to international form. I’ve no worries Davies will get there.

    Were I disagree with you is that Torres or Clark should not be in this side. Torres has not been playing great in Mexico and Clark is only been back from injury for one game.

    Also, Starikov would have been interesting but I haven’t watched him enough or followed bim to know if he still wants to play for the US or if he wants to play for Ukraine.

    Lastly, please don’t patronize people and tell them to stop rooting for the USA because they disagree with you. You make some really great points but so do others in this thread.

  15. The reason why we give up early goals falls on the shoulders of the coach…or the one impersonating him. With that said, Im tired of bashing Bunker Bob…It’s about time that some veteran players answer to thier team’s lack-luster play captiain’s arm-band or not. LD hating is silly…however, holding your all team scoring leader to higher standard is not. Tim Howard is an actual leader on that team and always has great responses and doesnt give you the impression that he seems bothered by answering tough questions.

  16. I’d say the biggest since the 1998 World Cup debacle, and at least that was at the World Cup, not the regional tournament.

  17. I think at the current moment Dempsey is the best but not the greatest. Donovan has the potential to be the best and greatest but he has not reached that yet. I think it would have been a different story had Donovan stuck it out in europe or maybe joined a dutch club team who are known to develop talent. Hopefully at this tournament we see a better Donovan AND Dempsey or else we will see Mexico run away with the cup.

    Also to answer ur question about who I think is the greatest, I would have to say Reyna because of his longivity in Europe as well as being able to control the midfield like no other U.S. player has been able to do. Hence, his award as one of the best players at the world cup in 2002.

  18. Well I know this will freak some people out, but why not a Mexican coach? There are some good ones out there, they know tactics, they encourage stylish play, and heaven forbid we tap into the still undisturbed and vast reserve of Latino players this country has. Mining for Latino players will not cause global warming people. Actually, not knowing the language restrictions, I was hoping to have a go at Bielsa after the World Cup.

  19. On this coaching matter…does anyone have any real input as to who the US should court? All I’ve seen is bitching about Bob, which is warranted. Who should coach the US and why? I suggested Klinsmann for a number of reasons. Let’s be grownups about this. Let’s hear it.

  20. The point is every coach hears it from someone. I never compared Klinsmann to Guardiola. You should read more carefully.

  21. Yes to this. How annoying is it to have a Ballack miss a final because a ref gets zealous? Same with a red because apparently De Jong can cleat you in the chest but without a card, no consequences!

  22. or:
    “He was on Bradley’s roster for two recent friendly matches, against Argentina and Paraguay, but a back injury forced him to withdraw.”

  23. I’d like to see Wondolowski and Dempsey start up top. And then bring in Agudelo or Altidore as a sub.

    Maurie Edu can start as as midfielder.

    Switch some things up.

  24. Yellow card accumulation is the dumbest thing on the planet with the way some refs give yellows out. Im all for being liberal with the yellows, but it should only be a warning within that single game.

  25. Really? Get a clue? Obviously you’re must be an occasional/ tournament US fan. Those who really know the game know that we have improved and we need to keep moving forward. Having the 1994 mentality of counter attack system is done and so is the pre proven players call ups. Obviously I know who we have in the player pool and Buddle, Hercules and even the kid playing Russia deserve more to here than Jozy. Look I want jozy to be the best and he can be but you can’t call a player in hopes he returns to his previous form during the tournament. the only forwards who deserved the call up based on performance were agudelo and wondo. I LOVE the USA team but this bob Bradley regim is not going down any other way, Gulati maybe be satisfied with the draws and defensive mind and the constant comeback as a positive thing but I don’t. I know for a fact players are not being used to their fullest potential.

    Jones looks uncomfortable not because he sucks but you can tell he’s is a more attacking player and I watch him do that with blackburn and that is just plain stupid that Bob doesn’t see that. The reason why Michael bradley looks good in the team is because father and son think alike. Yes he has talent but that playing defensive minded is not impressive. We are cable of matching alot of the powerhouses but we don’t because we are being held back.
    Bob thinks that by bringing Robbie he’s injecting young talent but why him and not mix, Torres or even Clark. So your argument is invalid. If you are satisfied with this team performance along with the coaches then you should switch teams and support Canada where they consider a win against guadaloupe a great stride forward.

  26. If I am not mistaken – Claudio Reyna is the only US player to make an All-World Cup all-star team, first team. That was in 2002, when Donovan was a grasshopper (who turned into a flaming, fire-breathing dragon, with his goal v. Mexico and the way he played v. Germany).

    I’m not knocking Donovan’s overall stats, and USMNT track record. But, Donovan is strangely inept at taking players on one v. one – he is no Wesley Snjeider. Dempsey is a way more polished overall soccer player, or “futbolista” – Dempsey’s ability to conduct the ball, dribble, hold the ball, take on players one v. one is Berbatov-like. Donovan quickly reverts to a club footed, uptight, predictable clod when faced with one v. one situations up front and close. In the open field, where he can use his speed, and change direction in flight, he is decent carrying the ball, and spraying through passes, or chipping the ball over defenders to streaking forwards, etc. This Gold Cup his set piece service has been fair to middlin’ really, mediocre at best.

    I have to say I like Bradley, both son and father, and I have great compassion with the tremendous uphill battle ANY US coach faces with the lack of individual skills, the lack of together training time (an earlier poster on another USMNT column here at Soccer by Ives pointed out that comparatively, the Spanish National team, when you take into account the fact that over half a dozen of their players play together at Barcelona, and the continental Europe short travel distances to training camp, Euro-copa qualifiers, friendlies, etc. – has 5 TIMES the together training time and number of matches against quality opnents in a year than the US does – THAT ADDS UP!!!), the amorphous pool of dozens and dozens of ‘wanna-bes’ with great NCAA stats HS All American honors, etc. – who are washouts, and flashes in the pan by Euro standards – TO CHOOSE FROM, and you have to say – “If I am lucky, in my life time I will see the US in a World Cup semi-final – but I am not holding my breath.”

    Bradley has done a very good job, with all of the limitations any coach faces with the US soccer culture, player pool, travel obstacles, etc. – but I too am starting to question the wisdom of keeping him on.
    I wonder what this team would look like (and play like!) if we had a coach with the international experience and guile of a Gus Hiddink, or Bora Mulutinovich sorting out our attacking strategies, and defensive schema.
    I really think that the current player pool is capable of more than they are manifesting, and that is really in large part because of the coaching, the mind set generated by the coaching staff, and the lower expectations that they carry collectively as a unit due to the level of coaching they are receiving.

    If we can’t get a result v. Guadeloupe then it is really, really high time for a major shake up in the USMNT administrative and coaching hierarchy. This level of collective indecision and lack of focused team-work is simply unacceptable. Unacceptable.

  27. You mean two people criticize Guardiola for being too quiet with the press maybe? I have never heard except plaudits on Pep Guardiola’s public persona. And Jurgen Klinsmann is no Pep Guardiola!

  28. Because he suffers from Steve Coppell syndrom. He is loyal to a fault to players who might have produced once upon a time for him.

  29. Can someone tell me why Bob Bradley wouldn’t bring in Zak Whitbread who is an in form center back that is playing consistently for Norwich City, who just got promoted to the EPL.

  30. If we lose tonight and fail to progress, it will be the biggest failure for the USMNT I can remember in the last 10 years.


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