CONCACAF Gold Cup
Last November, the United States men’s soccer team was a mess. It had lost twice in World Cup qualifying, the roster was in turmoil and Jurgen Klinsmann was on his way out as the coach.
The move to replace Klinsmann with former longtime coach Bruce Arena paid off handsomely immediately, and again on Wednesday night. The USMNT is 9-0-5 under Arena and defeated Jamaica 2-1 in Santa Clara, California, to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time since 2013. It’s Arena’s third win in this event as the coach, but it was also a big triumph for many of the players – Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore especially.
Dempsey, 34, has hopes of playing in one more World Cup. He set up the go-ahead goal by Altidore and later scored in the 2-0 semifinal win over Costa Rica. He has proved adept at giving the team a lift off the bench.
Altidore, 27, showed he’s capable of being the striker this team needs after several years of trying times in tournament play (mostly due to injuries). He scored the U.S.’s first goal on Wednesday night on a free kick.
Many of the nations involved in the Gold Cup tournament did not bring their top players; the U.S. loaded the roster for the last two games with veterans. And Jamaica lost its No. 1 goalkeeper 23 minutes, so the U.S. beat a backup.
That’s all OK. The team’s equilibrium is restored, and so is its confidence. Now there’s that 0-2 start in World Cup qualifying to secure a berth in the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman