The Back 4: What to watch for in the Gold Cup

With the Gold Cup officially kicking off today in Los Angeles, it’s time to discuss what to look for as the US attempts to defend their title.

  1. The only thing anyone will talk about: Freddy Adu. Where does he play? Who starts alongside him? Does Bradley let him play the full 90?
    All of these questions will be answered in the first game, but this is the tournament that many are hoping is “Freddy’s time to shine”. It’s time to give Freddy some freedom to create and put him in a position to impact play on the field with every touch.
    A big key to Freddy’s success is going to be who starts up top. If Brian Ching starts, don’t expect a lot from Freddy. Ching’s lack of mobility and penchant for staying incredibly deep will clog up Adu’s room to create and use his vision. In fact, the two will likely be a pretty bad partnership, which could put Bradley in a tough spot – does he start both? Or just one?
    The answer to those questions will go a long way in determining the USA’s ability to score in this tournament.
  2. Can Charlie Davies continue his stellar form?
    3 great appearances in the Confederations Cup has Davies’ confidence at a high, and his play showed it. The speedy forward caused all kinds of problems for the defensive units he faced, and his work rate is something the USA desperately needs on the field at all times.
    Bradley should start Davies, as benching him in favor of Ching or Adu would certainly cause an uproar among fans and media alike.
    If Davies does start, look for him to make a run at the Golden Boot for the tournament.
  3. What do we get from the middle of the field?
    The goalkeeper, center backs, and center midfielders will be entirely new to the side. It’s not clear at all who will start in which positions, as only the outside backs are a certainty (Pearce and Cherundolo).
    With a “spine” that is unfamiliar with each other, the communication and positioning will be key to successful American stands in front of goal. The communication will start at the very back, where the US will start either Troy Perkins or Jon Busch in goal, with Perkins being the likely candidate. How well the US defends will be a reflection of how well Perkins commands his backline.
  4. How does Bradley manage the team?
    With 7 players “available” from the Confederations Cup squad, Bradley will have 37 players to fill out his 18-man game day rosters. Who he suits up for the games will be very telling and should make for quite a bit of debate.
    More importantly, how Bradley formats his starting lineup and who he chooses to sub in and out will go a long way toward showing whether or not Bradley learned anything at all in South America.
    With the American cup run last week being built on speed and counter-attacking, we should expect that the same tactics will be used in the Gold Cup. Seeing guys like Brian Ching in the lineup will just  tell us that Bradley didn’t learn a thing and is just going to stick with his favorites.


All in all, don’t expect the level of play that the USA produced against Egypt, Spain, and the Brazil (for a half). This is almost an entirely new team, especially through its spine with new central players.

The US has a serious threat for the Golden Boot in Charlie Davies, and another threat for Golden Ball in Freddy Adu.

If those two start and get lots of time, it’s safe to expect a successful defense of our Gold Cup title.


2 Responses

  1. My fantasy lineup that will never happen:


    If they feel the need to play a target striker, I want Cooper, and not Ching. Ching has already shown us what he can do. Thanks for your contributions, now let’s move on, please.

    My guess as to what it will actually be?


  2. […] The Back 4: What to watch for in the Gold Cup « The Post: A … By Ryan Noel U.S. to Open 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup Against Grenada in Seattle on July 4 July 2, 2009. Less than one week after completing a historic run to the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup, the U.S. Men's National Team begins its quest for a … The Post: A Keeper's Best Friend – […]

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