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USMNT aiming for repeat of past Gold Cup success

Entering the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team went from the chants of “I believe that we can win” in the 2014 FIFA World Cup to “please believe in us once again” in the last three-to-five years, highlighted by the United States’ now infamous exit from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers at Trinidad and Tobago in October 2017.

A lot has changed from 2014, and even more the last two years, leading up to Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener as the United States takes on Guyana. The belief that the American sport was growing in the country has dropped and the belief that the United States Men’s program was finally catching up to the international powers like Spain, Germany, Argentina, and Brazil has plummeted.

Outside of just the national program, Major League Soccer isn’t viewed generally has a top league in its own country despite massive expansion since 2015 both on the pitch and on television with a massive TV deal with FOX and ESPN.

But the USMNT has a chance, once again, to shift the perception of American soccer back towards the positive and with a strong run and potential repeat title in the Gold Cup, they feel like they can get the rest of the country to once again believe that they can win.

“You know, I think if you look down at all of the countries, we’re still relatively new in terms of the league in MLS and our national team program, our federation,” defender Matt Miazga said to the media on Sunday. “We have all of the resources and we have all the players to be a good team, all of the coaches to be a good team and to show that U.S. soccer can play football.

“Obviously, what we’re doing is different … but we know that it’s all going to work out and we put the hard work in and hopefully people take notice that we’re a team that can be a leading nation in the world because we believe in ourselves that we can.”

For the first time in our generation, we’re seeing, first-hand, the USMNT go through a full reset – new management, a brand new head coach to the international scene, and an overall younger team in general despite bringing back nine of the 10 players from the 2017 Gold Cup-winning squad. Gregg Berhalter enters the Gold Cup with less than half-a-year under his belt at the helm of the USMNT, however, he’s brought fresh ideas and a more tactical, technical approach compared to the USMNT of past.

Change is always risky, especially when you’re changing the perception of a team and how it plays and looks on the pitch for the foreseeable future.

“Obviously what we’re doing is different,” Miazga explained. “You know, we’re obviously playing out from the back and have a different identity to us.”

Defender Omar Gonzalez, a member of the 2014 USMNT World Cup team that sparked the inspiration of the recent growth of American soccer and the 2017 Gold Cup champion team, added his thoughts on the USMNT’s evolution.

“I can say that every single one of us is behind the mission to change the way we view or change the way the world views American soccer,” Gonzalez said. “And that’s by playing pretty football, playing out of the back, positional play. We’re going to have a certain style and I think the fans, the media, everyone’s going to be able to notice it.

“Yes, there will be growing pains. It doesn’t matter if we make a mistake and they score on us, we’re going to still stick to how we want to play.”

A Gold Cup title doesn’t guarantee a spot in the 2022 World Cup, or any World Cup, as we’ve seen in recent year’s past through World Cup qualifiers. Besides, the rest of the conference looks stronger and hungrier to make a strong run in the Gold Cup themselves. Canada opened their Gold Cup play with a 4-0 win over Martinique and Mexico (usually a strong opponent), opened with a 7-0 win over Cuba. Costa Rica opened with a 4-0 win over Nicaragua and Haiti came back down a goal to win 2-1 over Bermuda.

So, to place the expectation that the United States has to win it again and should easily, especially given how they performed in the June friendlies leading into the tournament, could be absurd. There’s also little to no recognition for the Americans if they win the Gold Cup – there won’t be a parade in New York City or anything of the like, and the t-shirts would probably go on sale in about a month in any sports store to make room for the 2019 NFL gear, placing even less emphasis on a Gold Cup win.

But where a Gold Cup win lacks value in the eyes of the rest of the world, it makes up in what it means to the program and shows the world the status of the USMNT in meaningful matches. At the end of the day, a domestic trophy still goes some kind of distance.

However, a Gold Cup title, or a strong run, could help re-inspire the country’s faith and belief in the sport, one that fell face first as the U.S. did in Trinidad about two years ago.

The Americans aren’t just looking for another trophy this summer. They’re looking for some sort of redemption in their first serious set of matches in the last two years. Despite the recent stumble in the June friendly losses to Jamaica and Venezuela, Berhalter and the USMNT and looking towards progress in the cup to progress the program’s continued rebuild.

“We want to progress,” midfielder Weston McKennie said. “Of course that also means winning games, but we want to develop our style.

“And our goal is to make people see U.S. soccer as something different than what they see now.”


  1. I found this articled to be very annoying. It combines a pollyanish view with analysis that lacks foundation .It seems to be totally lacking in a realistic analysis of the stgrengths and mostly weaknesses of this team. Outside of a few decent players like McKennie, CP, Altidore and maybe one or two others, this team is largely made up of untried and unproven players or has beens like Bradley and Gonzalez . So many mediocre MLS players as to be ridiculous. I don’t see how this team can inspire any confidence. The only promising aspect is that CONCACAF is a very week confederation. Still, I doubt we can beat either Mexico or Costa Rica and will have trouble with other teams that we may face.

    • Again I’m reminded of a few months ago when I said our pool was being over rated and you scolded me. The truth is other than injuries there isn’t a lot of talent that was passed on. The U20s showed plenty of promise but showed they all have plenty to improve on before competing at the full team level. The pool has many more to choose from but the overall talent level isn’t as good as some other US squads.

      • I’m not in accord with many of Berhalter’s selections for this tourney. He picked a lot of the wrong players from the pool. Some examples–Green and Nagbe should have been included. Substitute Sargent or Novakovich for Lewis. I would take Kellyn Acosta over Trapp. I would take Roldan out. Instead of Lovitz I would probably take Villafana. And, of course, I didn’t know we would be missing Brooks, Yedlin, and Adams.

      • I don’t have a problem with any of those except maybe Accosta he’s been awful the last year, and he does not play as a 6 anymore (which might explain his downturn). That being said none of those players are game changers either. The players you suggest also have large flaws in their games just different ones than the players you want to replace. The pool is wide but not deep.

  2. Just win. Our style has always been working hard, competing for each other, and playing with heart and desire. Our strength has always been that we are greater than the sum of our parts. Play to our strengths, getting stuck in, and hitting on the counter. We have been semi successful at that for a while. Being gritty and grinding out wins is better for me than trying to play “pretty”. The bottom line is that ita the resulta that matter. Not that I would mind playing more possession with passing, but you can’t win a race without the horses to compete in the derby.

    • Ha, love this. Play hard and just win. Wish it was that easy. I mean, I get what your saying but reminder – we didnt qualify for the world cup. With two managers, two different approaches. The game has evolved my friend and we have kicked the can down the road for too long. The high school mantra of play your hearts out with good athletes is not sustainable in the international game. Our u20s showed us promise that our players can play technically.

    • EXACTLY!
      Soccer skills are for chumps. All you need is 11 people that can run faster and kick harder than the other team. That’s what made us so successful as a soccer nation.

      • Not at all the point I was making. But in order to play possession soccer, you NEED PLAYERS CAPABLE of playing that style. Im not sure the team that is at the Gold Cup has that ability.

        All the talk about finding an identity for me is great philosophically, but the bottom line is results. Our style has always been grit. Thats not the only component for our past success, and certaintly shouldnt be relied on comoletely currently. We’ve always had a player or two that could do special things like Hugo Perez, or Reyna, or Wynalda, or Donovan, or Dempsey, or now CP. Or playmakers who took risks together that could unlock back lines like Josh Wolff and Clint Mathis. But we have never lacked the intangible things like unity and understanding on the field that can help win games at any level. Over the last few games especially, and I think at the end of JK’s tenure, it seemed like we lost some of that.

        Yes international soccer has progressed, but we aren’t Spain or Brazil or Croatia. Let’s be what we are.

        Not that we can’t strive to be better, but knowing the makeup and skill of the players that you have at your disposal, and figuring out the best way for that group to be successful is a huge part of coaching. After the last two matches, I’m questioning if leadership has that capacity. And I’m a person that is glad we hI red GB.

    • your point was clear, and it’s a good one (rob’s just a troll).

      i mentioned this back when klinsmann was hired, but i guess it’s even more relevant now: the ussf is about a decade behind the rest of the world with their fetish for possession play. especially in tournaments, results show repeatedly that there really is no correlation between possession and winning. look at portugal as one recent example, or the last champions league final featuring two teams who aren’t known for their possession play and handily won by the team that barely had the ball.

      if our players have the ability to control the game and–more importantly–create chances through possession play, then absolutely that should be our system. i think it’s pretty clear that that’s not the case.

  3. No way…no way. Sorry to say it’s not going to ha
    ppen. Mexico is way too strong, Canada is playing with an under dog mentality like the USMNT of old (would really like to see David, Davis, Osorio, Hoilett and Arfield against stronger competition?), Costa Rica is looking dangerous also……not going to happen. It’s not even about Berhalter anymore….this particular group of players do not have what it takes to get the job done (regardless of who is at the helm). Just hope they don’t embarrass the stars and stripes in the process?

    • If this version of Mexico is “way too strong” then I’d hate to see what they look like with Chucky, Layun, Herrera, Chicharito, Tecatito, and Vela playing. Mexico seems to alternate Gold Cups where they field A and B teams. The last time the US won the Gold Cup was the last year I recall Mexico sending its B team. Heck, Mexico even had two guys decline call-ups this year. For all the joking about Adams using an injury excuse to get out of a bad squad, Vela just flat up said no thanks.

      • EXACTLY OD. I hope the day we meet Mexico we have figured our @#$% out!!! They are on another level right now with THEIR B TEAM. Tata is the talent behind it…we saw it in Atlanta and we are seeing it now. He is just able to bring the best out of his players, some way some how. He was able to turn 35-year-old Michael Parkhurst and Jeff Larentowicz into superstars in MLS, dominate on the pitch and become league champions in a short amount of time. It’s crazy how his players just want to play for him, look sharp and give their all when he is at the helm.

        Mexico ??——–3–1———–Chile ??
        Mexico ??——–4–2———–Paraguay ??
        Mexico ??——-3–1———–Venezuela ??
        Mexico ??——–3–2———–Ecuador ??
        Mexico ?? ——-7–0———–Cuba ??

        And this is without the “big guns”…..smh ?

    • I mean how do we know that they don’t have what it takes to at least make the final?? We’re going off of the last 2 friendlies and making that judgement? I recall people being inspired after the first 5 friendlies that the team looked to have a plan and we’re creating chances and defending well, against better competition in my opinion. Let’s see what happens with everyone working on the same accord after 2 weeks together instead of what we saw with players coming.into camp at different stages and not having chemistry. What’s funny is the same people who said the GC means nothing are the same ones predicting that we do nothing and are mad about it….go figure

      • There we go with mediocracy….” have what it takes to at least make the final”…..”at least make the final”???? Maybe this is the issue with the USMNT, they know second best is good enough. No, it’s not…..especially with the money and resources, that has been invested and thrown at US Soccer. It is flat out embarrassing to play the way we do, in the manner we do, losing against the teams we do ?. Our soccer mentality (unlike the top countries in the world) is that you get points for participation and effort. Our mentality should be “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” and somehow the USWNT understand that concept more and have retained that mentality (no wonder they are number one in the world).

        “Show me a gracious loser and I’ll show you a failure.” (so far that’s US Soccer and the USMNT ?)

  4. “Outside of just the national program, Major League Soccer isn’t viewed generally has a top league in its own country despite massive expansion since 2015 both on the pitch and on television with a massive TV deal with FOX and ESPN.”

    Perhaps they meant North and Central America? Otherwise who generally doesn’t view it as the top league in the country?

    • Can you give a analytical answer as to why you want him out? Or are you just going off of two meaningless friendlies, without even accounting for the fact we’ve yet to see our first team play together….tough crowd in here geez


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