Last Sunday’s 1-0 victory by the United States men’s soccer team over Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final at Soldier Field in Chicago marked their fifth Gold Cup Championship. The victory over Panama was also a testament to the new resolve by the United States as they won the match without their head coach Jurgen Klinsmann who was suspended following his actions in America’s 3-1 semifinal victory over Honduras. The United States avoided playing their nemesis Mexico in the tournament as they were eliminated in the semifinal by Panama. Now riding an 11-match winning streak and fandom for soccer in America at an all-time high, it is time for the United States to carry this momentum into the World Cup qualifying and beyond.
When Klinsmann was brought in to replace Bob Bradley as the United States’ head coach in 2011, he was hired to establish the United States on the global stage; mainly at the World Cup. At the 2006 World Cup, the United States received a tough draw in group play as they were placed in a group with Italy, Ghana, and the Czech Republic. The United States went 0-2-1 as they only managed to score two goals. The United States fared better in the 2010 World Cup as they advanced from the group stage, but they could not get past Ghana in the round of 16 as they lost 2-1 in extra time. The bracket was setup for the United States to make a run as the top-tier teams such as Argentina, Spain, and Germany were on the other side of the bracket, but the offense stalled which has been a calling card for this team.
In the Gold Cup, the United States averaged 3.3 goals per game which is a far cry from a team that usually has to scrap and claw in order to just get a single goal during a match.
With World Cup qualifying matches remaining this year against Costa Rica, Mexico, Jamaica, and Panama, the United States can firmly secure their spot at next year’s World Cup in Brazil, but for the U.S. to hang around in next year’s tournament, there must be consensus effort to score from wingers Landon Donovan and team captain Clint Dempsey along with striker Jozy Altidore. Dempsey and Altidore did not participate in the Gold Cup, but Donovan was the top scorer of the tournament and he was named the Gold Cup’s best player.
The United States is currently ranked 22nd in the FIFA rankings, but for them to assert themselves with their new found momentum and scoring, it will take a solid effort on soccer’s biggest stage against the likes of Spain, Germany, and Portugal. In June, The United States was able to defeat Germany 4-3 in a friendly in Washington D.C. which started this current winning streak. Now it is time for Klinsmann to keep the new found United States machine rolling into next summer.