Not since 2003 has a CONCACAF Gold Cup final not included the United States, and with recent success against European opponents, the question has to be asked…
Can the United States win the Gold Cup again?
Starting on July 7, the Gold Cup is regional competition for North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Its only winners have been Mexico (6), the United States (5), and Canada (1), but Central American teams like Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Colombia, as well as Caribbean countries like Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago have been able to find success since the tournament started.
Whereas most of the news over the past month has focused on the problems that CONCACAF and FIFA officials have with corruption, the idea that a real qualification for the upcoming World Cup is going on has started to push its way to the front of the average fan’s consciousness.
One of the key drivers for the resurgence of interest in play on the field has been the United States women’s team just recently won the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Not just that, but the U.S. men’s team has surprised the Netherlands and Germany, two of the best in Europe, with wins in friendly matches and then finished off with a 4-0 win in a tune up match against Guatemala. Once thought to be a team that would remain fairly static in terms of their ability to compete outside their region, they have started to shift fandom, betting patterns, and FIFA rankings.
The question is whether or not the sterling performances that were turned in over the past two weeks in the Netherlands and Germany were really indicative of their level of skill… or whether a friendly is really just a friendly.
One positive omen for the Americans is the fact that they have never beat the Germans on German soil in a friendly before their victory last week. Regardless of the German excuse that their side was solely focused on their Euro 2016 qualifiers, it could bode well for the United States in Gold Cup play.
A key factor in how well the U.S. side is able to traverse the suddenly more competitive CONCACAF schedule is what style manager Jurgen Klinsmann decides to use with the team.
In the past, lightning runs up the sides with frequent crosses have highlighted the American attack. But as was evident in the recent second goal versus Germany, there were 30 perfect passes in a sequence before the ball was slammed home by an American side member. 30 perfect passes is more indicative of a Latin American style of play where the languid, yet smooth, ball movement can become like a wave or a fluid dance step that requires every member of the team to be on the same page to pull off.
It’s encouraging that the U.S. side was able to beat the reigning world champions by playing outside their previous style. And while no one expects them to start channeling Brazil on the field as they move forward with the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the fact remains that by turning over a new leaf (or at the very least being able to adapt) in terms of their style. It won’t be any surprise when fans outside of America start to favor them during the CONCACAF tournament.
This year, the competition in the tournament seems to be heating up, with a resurgent Mexico and a strong Jamaica currently invited to compete in the Copa America. For fans who are interested in gauging how the Americans will do, watching the Copa America matches will be a good way to see the relative strength of those sides against a South American continent that is starting to run out of weaknesses in international cup play.
But all in all, you can be certain that the United States, Mexico, and Honduras should start out as the teams to beat during the Gold Cup, with Jamaica as an outside favorite to make some noise.
This article was written by sports writer Tony Samboras who writes for many online publications including one of the best online sources for free betting.