The United States Men’s National Team takes on El Salvador this evening in Philadelphia in the Gold Cup quarterfinals. The US clumsily navigated group B with a lethargic draw against Panama and an unnecessarily nervy win against Martinique but ultimately ended up at the point everyone expected- group winners with a cushy quarterfinal against one of the two 3rd place finishers. Because I’m lazy, I’m going to revisit some of my group stage bullet poin.ts
Omar Gonzalez and Brad Guzan shouldn’t be considered B players either. If Zardes regains his form, you could argue he belongs in that group, and I’d say Bedoya’s pretty close, too.
Yeah, this seems right. Gonzo and Guzo certainly didn’t hurt themselves, and Bedoya was man of the match against Nicaragua. Zardes isn’t the aesthetically pleasing tactician all of the cognoscenti covet which is why they’re more than happy to overlook his game-winning assist against Martinique. Who needs a primo athlete and defender, right? All four are making the preliminary World Cup roster next spring. Sorry, gang.
Dax McCarty and Chris Pontius have to have great tournaments here if they want to make the plane. Their age and some up and coming talent at their spots could make this their last shot.
They haven’t had anything beyond a meh tournament so far. Both benefit from their skillset and will hang around for the elimination round (unlike Dwyer and Rowe- more on that shortly).
Although younger, Matt Hedges is in a similar position. The US has a ton of useful centerback options at the moment, and a boatload of young up and comers (including 21 year old Dutch Cup champion, Matt Miazga). C’mon Matty!
The tale of Two Matts- Hedges had a rough competitive debut against Martinique where all of his relative weaknesses were exposed. Miazga, on the other hand, drew an easier matchup and added a goal. Both stick for the elimination round because Bruce Arena didn’t call in additional defenders. There’s still a battle here, but Hedges may have ran out of immediate opportunity. (Edit: Hedges starting!)
The youngest goalscorer for the US in the modern era is Christian Pulisic. The 2nd youngest is Juan Agudelo. He’s still only 24. I’ve always really enjoyed his game, and there’s a little Dempsey in that guy.
Agudelo stuck instead of Dwyer because he offers something different on top of hold up play. I speculate this is why Rowe went home as well (Revs need help and Pontius is more of a true wide player), and that raises the stakes for Swagudelo. He’s going to have to take whatever chance he has left, too.
I really hope to see something from Justin Morrow this tournament. The perpetual question at left back still needs to be answered.
He was decent against Martinique- better in the 2nd half when he was more willing to push into the attack. He’s probably just a tier ahead of Hedges and Agudelo opportunity-wise though. He needs to shine just a bit brighter to break through fully.
How to Watch
Kickoff Time: 8:00 p.m. CT
Available TV: FS1, Unimas, Univision Deportes
Available Streams: Univision Deportes, Fox Sports Go