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In Cleveland, hope dies last

U.S. goes for the Gold against Mexico

Huge day for the U.S. as they take on Mexico in tonight’s Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl.

The winner earns a spot in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, which serves as a warm-up for organizers of the 2014 World Cup. The U.S. earned a spot in the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa and knocked off Spain, providing the team with the confidence that carried it into the knockout stage of last year’s World Cup.

More importantly, the U.S. wants to earn a win over its biggest rival in a series that has been decidedly pro-USA for the past decade. Since losing to El Tri in Mexico City in 1999, the U.S. has gone 10-4-2 against Mexico.

That decade-long success should negate what is expected to be a home field advantage for the Mexican team playing in Southern California.

“It’s difficult. Anytime you play in the States against teams from Latin America, it’s always tough for us,” said midfielder Clint Dempsey in published reports. “We’ve gotten used to that. I think that makes us stronger as a team.”

It won’t be easy, as Mexico has scored 18 goals (to the Americans’ 7) on its way to the final, but the team needed extra time to get past Honduras on Wednesday night. So some of the early shine is off for Mexico.

There will be a lot of pressure on goalkeeper Tim Howard and the U.S. back line, especially in trying to keep Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in check. Hernandez has seven goals in the tournament so far (by comparison, Clint Dempsey leads the U.S. with 3).

The one advantage is that Howard (who hasn’t given up a goal since the second game of the tournament) knows how to play Hernandez, having faced him twice last year in the Premier League when Howard’s Everton team took on Hernandez and Manchester United.

“No player is unstoppable,” Howard said in published reports. “But they’ve got a good team. They’ve got a lot of big players. So it will take all of us to stop all of them.”

It what should be a close game, any little edge helps.

“When you come into these types of tournaments you grow along the way,” U.S. coach Bradley said in published reports. “You certainly grow when you lose and you look hard at certain things. I think that’s been important. The first round is always about advancing and using the games to figure out where you are. I think we’ve gotten better from start to finish. There’s a good level of confidence, and it’s a strong group that has been through this before.”

No matter what happens, it should be one heck of a match.

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4 thoughts on “U.S. goes for the Gold against Mexico

  1. “@jimkanicki But is Klinnsmann a long term solution or just a fix until the next World Cup? US needs system from top down”

    He's a change in attitude.

    When I watch the working of the USMNT is has the feel of a persecuted minority. Loyal to a fault with one another; somewhat dismissive that anyone who hasn't been through what theyve been through just doesnt understand. I would say too, that it goes beyond the team. Ive yet to hear broadcasters on FSC express a criticism of any USMNT player or coach.

    So you put in Klinnsmann. UEFA Cup winner. World Cup winner. Youre not going have an inferiority complex. eg, Klinnsmann wouldnt sit his best players against the World Champs on a US pitch (Spain/Foxboro). Bradley didnt play donovan/dempsey/boca/etc so as not to expose them as not world class. Bradley didnt want their feelings hurt and then hid behind the 'we didnt want injuries for Gold Cup' jive.

    To Klinnsmann, matching up with Spain would be the bigger match than anything coming out of Gold Cup. He'd want to challenge his players. Bradley wants to protect them.

    Unfortunately, you can protect them forever as last nite showed.

  2. Except that Donovan, Dempsey, etc., were on the pitch when the US beat Spain two years ago in the Confederations Cup in South Africa. Spain was riding a 35+ game winning streak at the time and the US took it too them.

    Bradley was in a no-win situation with the Spain game before the Gold Cup, that really should never have been scheduled. If he plays the top line and someone gets hurt, he's grilled for the decision. The Gold Cup has to mean more than an exhibition.

    I'm not saying Bradley should stay, necessarily, but for the US to have any real, sustainable success they need to have a system in place from the youngest players all the way through to the national team – everyone needs to be teaching the same thing at every step.

    If they were to bring in someone else to coach the national team it would not be longterm (not past the 2014 World Cup) and they run the risk of the top team working at odds against a system that could be built for longterm success.

    No doubt, though, they are in a bit of a tough spot.

  3. i do blame bradley for the tuck-tail and hide-behind-gold-cup excuse for not fielding his best team against ESP. i think it's very much analagous to tony dungy sitting peyton manning in week 17… and then finding themselves losing in round 1.

    but more, i'm bothered by the USMNT apparatus justifying it. from officials to tv commentators to bloggers to tweeters… seemed like anyone who knows the #USMNT tag was ok with tanking. not just tanking, mind you. this was literally not attempting to compete against the best team in the world on a home pitch with a full house. there's simply no excuse for it. (no, not even a pending non-knockout-round gold cup home match vs canada.) that's the sort of thing i hope klinnsmann would end.

    as far as developing players, am i wrong or does USMNT discourage our guys from playing in europe? i know the galaxy wasn't too keen to let landycakes go back to everton. but somewhere i got the idea that USMNT doesnt like it either. anyways, i believe that there too, klinsmann would appreciate the importance of getting our best talent used to playing against the best talent.

  4. Now that I agree on.

    Promoting the game at home is great and all, but there's no way playing in the MSL on a regular basis is anywhere near the level and playing in England, Spain or Italy.

    There's no way Clint Dempsey or Tim Howard would be where they are if they were playing in Columbus or KC.

    But … if you are a player under contract to an MSL team and Europe comes calling, can you sell the owners of the franchise on the fact that letting your best player go is a good thing? It's good for the national team, but is it good business on a club level?

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