Like us to subscribe
Canada did not look especially bad against the United States during their 2-0 loss in their 2011 Gold Cup opener. But that didn't initially soothe the anger over at 86 Forever. No matter that the loss happened on American soil or that Canada rarely beats their southern neighbors. He wanted blood. Since then, however, he's calmed down a bit:
The cold light of dawn shines on a Canadian national team that's last in their group and yet in pretty good shape. They've proven, thoroughly and comprehensively, that they aren't ready to win this tournament. They don't have the stones, at least not yet. There's no unstinting belief in themselves which characterizes the upset champion. They've proven that, tactically, this team needs to adjust against good sides or they're not going to get results. They've also proven that they have bags of skill and that the holes on this team are less deep than first feared. There's ability there, some perseverence, some strength. There's a team that can almost assuredly beat Panama and Guadeloupe (barring catastrophe) and coast into the knockout stages.
It wasn't the prettiest of matches for the United States, but one match into their 2011 Gold Cup campaign and they have three points so they won't complain too much. Goals by Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey were enough to lead the U.S. past Canada in Group C action, much to the delight of the pro-U.S. crowd of 28,209 at Ford Field in Detroit, MI. The victory keeps the U.S. a perfect 11-0-0 in Gold Cup openers and undefeated since 1985 against their neighbors from the north.
The U.S. came flying out of the gates and almost scored just two minutes in. Altidore drew a dangerous free kick, which went off the wall and out for a corner kick, but the U.S. got three shots off of the corner kicks, all of which were blocked. U.S. corner kicks were common in the early going with four of them in the first 10 minutes. None led to goals though, just many blocked shots so despite their early dominance, the U.S. didn't see that edge on the scoreboard.
In the 14th minute the Americans finally put the scoreboard to work. Canada continued to drop off of of the U.S. midfielders and Landon Donovan made them pay for it. With plenty of time to survey the field, he spotted Altidore making a run and put the ball in a great place for him to run onto. Altidore got to it inside the box and turned to shoot on his second shot with a defender closing him down. It was a hard, low shot, but one that should have been saved. Lars Herschfeld didn't make the save though and Altidore wasn't about to complain. He has himself a goal to put the U.S. on top, 1-0.
From there, the match turned boring for the rest of the half. Sideways passes was all there was and neither team looked intent on attacking so the teams went to halftime with the Americans up by a goal.
In the second half, both teams looked much more intent on finding goals. The match opened up and for every time the U.S. flew forward in space, Canada did too. Neither side could turn it into a great shot on goal for the first 15 minutes of the second stanza though.
That is when Dempsey almost scored an incredible goal. Herschfeld for a hand on a cross from the left that was directed at Dempsey, who was making a run at the far post. The deflection by Herschfeld put the ball behind Dempsey, but it didn't put him off. The American jumped and lifted a leg to try a chest high, backheel volley that he actually pulled off. He put the shot on goal, but it was blocked and an amazing goal was not to be.
While Dempsey may have missed an incredible goal, he did get onto the scoresheet and put the U.S. up, 2-0. Altidore made an overlapping run on the right and Donovan laid the ball into his path, which Altidore crossed with his first touch from near the endline. It was a hard, low cross that Juan Agudelo barely got a touch to. The ball wasn't affected by Agudelo's touch and went all the way to Dempsey on the far post, who finished into the open goal.
With the U.S. up 2-0, they took their foot off the gas pedal and Tim Howard had to rescue them. First he went full stretch to stop a rocket of a shot from Ali Gerba, then he pulled off a tremendous double save. He started by coming off his line to deny Simeon Jackson. The ball was quickly played back in and Howard recovered. He went from five yards off his line and on the ground to back up on his line at the other side of the goal to deny a five-yard bullet of a volley by Gerba with a fantastic save. The U.S. may have gone to sleep, but Howard didn't and he kept the Americans up 2-0.
With their win, the U.S. moves even with Panama atop Group C with three points. The Panamanians defeated Guadeloupe earlier in the day, 3-2, putting Guadeloupe even with Canada at the bottom of the group with zero points. Group C action resumes on Saturday in Tampa Bay, FL with the U.S. playing Panama and Canada playing Guadeloupe.
Tim Howard already made one huge save in the United States' Gold Cup match with Canada, but now he has a second and a third in the same sequence. As good as that first save may have been, Howard really outdid himself with his third one, coming up absolutely huge with a fantastic save that should be on every highlight show Tuesday night. It is also a key save as it keeps the U.S. ahead 2-0 with time winding down.
The introduction of Rob Friend really helped Canada out and it almost got them a goal. He was right in front of goal trying to hold off Carlos Bocanegra when the ball got knocked back to Simeon Jackson. Howard came flying off his line when he saw it and dove at Jackson, blocking the shot five yards off his line. That wasn't it though. The ball ended up back on the left and a great volley from five yards away looked like a sure goal. Howard had just gotten off the ground from his first save and couldn't have been in position, but he was. He also showed amazing reactions, saving the second shot to complete the amazing sequence with the U.S. still up 2-0.
The United States already made their first two substitutions with Chris Wondolowski entering for Juan Agudelo and Sacha Kljestan coming on for Jozy Altidore and now they have made their final sub. Jermaine Jones exits the match for Maurice Edu and head coach Bob Bradley is out of moves to make, although up 2-0 he doesn't really need to make anymore.
What will be a concern is why Jones had to come off. He made a long run all the way down the field, but afterward came up lame. He spent four minutes calling for a substitution before Edu finally came on for him and Jones got to come off. It did not look to be overly serious, but will be worth keeping an eye on before the next U.S. match on Saturday.
Jozy Altidore's night has come to an end, but it sure was a productive one. The much-maligned striker put in a tremendous 73 minutes and it went much further than his goal and assist. He worked hard from the beginning, earning a dangerous free kick just two minutes into the match. He added good defensive pressure and smart, quick runs to the mix too. Overall, it was one of the better matches that Altidore has played in a very long time. Oh yeah, that goal he had and good assist on Clint Dempse's goal to make it 2-0 U.S. didn't hurt either.
Now Sacha Kljestan comes on for Altidore, allowing Dempsey to slide up top. While Dempsey will technically be a forward, he does drop deeper and the U.S. will really be playing with five midfielders now as they look to protect their 2-0 lead. Hold on here and the Americans can get the three points they need to open up Gold Cup play.
The United States hasn't been threatened too much by Canada, but when they finally did, Tim Howard was there to save them. it's not the first time that Howard has saved the U.S. and won't be the last, but this one was big to keep the Americans ahead, 2-0. As good as it was for Howard, it was unfortunate for Ali Gerba, who has his shot saved and it was a great shot too.
Gerba got a ball played to him on the right and despite being 25 yards from goal, he did not hesitate to take a shot. With the shot he got off, there was no reason for Gerba to hesitate. The striker ripped one towards the far post. It was a bullet that looked bound for the upper corner, but Howard was able to get a full stretch to deny Gerba and keep the United States ahead in the 69th minute.
The United States has made their first substitution of the match and it is the 18-year-old Juan Agudelo coming off for Chris Wondolowski in a striker for striker switch. It is not a strange substitution at all and makes complete sense to get Agudelo off. While he has been solid in the match, he has spent most of the season coming off the bench for the New York Red Bulls and is simply not in good enough shape to go 90 minutes right now so 63 minutes will have to do.
With Wondolowski coming on, the U.S. has a hot striker who has been taking advantage of every chance he has gotten for the San Jose Earthquakes of late. That is good for a team that has struggled to finish their chance of late and again in this match. He doesn't have an international goal so this could be the perfect opportunity to get that goal and put the U.S. 3-0 up.
Clint Dempsey spent the entire first half completely invisible. Will Johnson marked him out of the match and the United States' best player was rendered useless. That's not completely rare for Dempsey though, who has been known to go invisible before popping up with a great play. Well, he's popped up and in a big way with a 62nd minute goal that has stretched the U.S. lead over Canada to 2-0 in this Gold Cup Group C match.
It will be Dempsey's name that goes up on the scoresheet, but it was a good team goal for the U.S. Jozy Altidore found space on the right side near the endline after a good build up. He had Juan Agudelo making a good run down the middle and Dempsey down the left. Altidore played a good, hard, low cross across the front and Agudelo got the slightest of touches to it, but it didn't affect the ball at all. It just kept going straight to Dempsey, who blasted it home from right in front.
The pro-U.S. crowd at Ford Field in Detroit, MI was only too happy to see the Americans go 2-0 up. Dempsey let out a roar and pointed at the name on the back of his shirt, but no matter who the goal scorer is, the U.S. will just be happy to have an insurance goal.
Clint Dempsey almost scored the most amazing goal ever. No, that's not hyperbole. It would have been the most amazing goal ever. He can running in down the left side towards the far post and was spotted. The cross came in, but Lars Hirschfeld was able to get the slightest of a hand to it. The deflection put the ball just behind him and it looked like an opportunity lost. Someone forgot to tell Dempsey that though.
With the ball chest high and behind him, Dempsey jumped and lifted his left. He tried a chest high, backheeled volley and guess what? He pulled it over. He really did and it was absolutely incredible. The shot was goal bound too, but like so many chances for the U.S. in this match, it was blocked. This block was really unfortunate though because it would have been the best goal ever scored. No joke. It was that awesome.
The match has finally opened up and it did so on both sides. Ever since Jozy Altidore scored in the 14th minute, the two teams have been content to pass sideways and not really attack the opposing team's back line. It made the match quite boring and neither team really got opportunities to score, but that is over.
The first chance of the second half came for the U.S. when a long cross to Altidore just barely went over his head. Had it been three inches lower, Altidore would have had a glorious chance to head home his second goal of the game to put the U.S. ahead, 2-0.
Canada wasn't going to let the U.S. have all the fun though. They came flying down the other way and Simeon Jackson danced his way around the edge of the U.S. box. One defender missed, another missed, another missed and it looked like Jackson might get a good opportunity at goal, but he waited too long and had the ball taken away.
It's been a lot of boring in this match since Altidore's goal, but it's starting to open up. Fresh legs with upcoming subs will only help that.
It took until the 51st minute, but the Gold Cup match between the United States and Canada finally has its first booking and it is no surprise that the temperamental Michael Bradley was shown the yellow. It wasn't even Bradley who was called for the initial foul on the play. Steve Cherundolo was called for pulling the Canadian attacker before Bradley came across to take the ball, but he wasn't happy with the call. He argued, he held onto the ball and he did just enough to annoy the ref into earning a yellow card.
You would think that Bradley would be a little smarter considering his last Gold Cup experience. Bradley picked up a red card in the 2007 Gold Cup semifinals and was suspended for the final, which the U.S. won. He may not have picked up a red card here, but he put himself another caution away from ejection or a caution in the next two matches away from a suspension.
Clint Dempsey is coming off of the best season of his career with Fulham. He led the team in scoring and was tremendous from the very start of the campaign. As one of the United States' most important players, his great form was good news heading into this summer's Gold Cup. The tournament is only 45 minutes old for the U.S., but in that span they have to wonder where the dangerous Dempsey is because Will Johnson has basically marked him out of the match.
Johnson is one of the better midfield defenders in CONCACAF with his energy, pace and ability to seemingly never get tired so it is no surprise that he's defending well. U.S. head coach Bob Bradley even took that into account, moving Landon Donovan to the right of the midfield, away from Johnson. That said, Dempsey needs to find a way to get involved for the U.S. They are only up 1-0 and cannot afford to have one of their best players completely invisible.
The good news for the U.S. is that an invisible Dempsey is not completely new. He has a tendency to loaf around for stretches before popping up out of nowhere with a tremendous play. The Americans will need a little bit of that tremendous in the second half to really get their attack going because Dempsey is just too valuable to them.
It hasn't been a pretty match and it hasn't been particularly entertaining, but after 45 minutes at Ford Field in Detroit, MI, the United States leads Canada, 1-0, thanks to a goal by Jozy Altidore. There is no doubt that the Americans have been the better team, but it is tough to judge just how good the U.S. has been because the Canucks have been so poor. The terrible temporary grass field hasn't helped the quality of play either and while the U.S. will wonder why they can't add to their lead, they'll take what they have.
The U.S. was all over the Canadians from the very beginning. They got a free kick just outside the box in the second minute and while the free kick by Clint Dempsey clipped the wall, they got a corner kick off of it. That corner kick led to multiple shots on goal, all of which were blocked. That was a theme for the U.S. in the first half as they took shots on frame, but most were blocked.
Three more corner kicks int he first 10 minutes followed, all of which ended with shots blocked. All but one that is, which ended with Carlos Bocanegra open in front with a chance to deflect the ball into a largely open net, but instead deflecting it wide of the frame.
In the 14th minute, the U.S. finally got their goal. Landon Donovan was given plenty of space in the middle of the field to survey the action and he spotted Altidore making a run in behind the Canadian defense. Donovan's ball to Altidore was perfect and Altidore ran onto it inside the box on the right side. A defender started to close him down, but Altidore turned on his second touch and fired low and hard. It was a good play by Altidore and a hard shot, but one that Lars Hirschfeld should have had. It got by the Canadian keeper though and Altidore wasn't going to complain. He ran to the corner to celebrate a 1-0 U.S. lead.
After the U.S. goal, things evened out some. Canada had some possession, but the Americans continued to be the better side. It didn't matter much though because neither team did much in the way of attacking. It was primarily sideways passing as the match turned into a bore for all those watching.
The U.S. will take their lead, even if it may have become a bore. They will not be happy with just a one-goal lead though and will come out in the second 45 minutes looking to build upon it.
The way that Canada goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld looks, the United States would be smart to put a shot on goal whenever they get a look at it. He was at fault on Jozy Altidore's goal that put the U.S. up 1-0 and has looked shaky ever since. He has been hesitant coming off of his line or completely glued to the spot and he hasn't handled the ball well either. That's what made it a good play when Juan Agudelo had a speculative shot at goal in the 40th minute, one that Hirschfeld almost bungled.
Agudelo had the ball at the edge of the box on the right side with a defender in front of him. He was moving towards goal slowly and searching for support, but it was nowhere to be found. Instead of dribbling aimlessly, he put a shot on frame with the outside of his right foot. It wasn't hard and it took a bit of a deflection, but it was still an easy save. Hirschfeld made it look hard though and knocked it down before grabbing it. There was never much of a threat of a goal, but the Canucks cannot feel comfortable with the way Hirschfeld has looked in goal.
Jozy Altidore is playing hard, chasing after 50/50 balls, pressuring the ball high when defending, shielding defenders in his hold up play and making good runs to open up space for others. That may seem like the basic things a forward should do, but they are things that Altidore hasn't done consistently and seeing him do them now is a major positive for the Americans. There is no doubt that his earlier goal helped him play with life, but he was bright before he scored with good energy from the very first kick.
The last time that the U.S. played before getting together for the summer was against Paraguay and it was arguably Altidore's worst match ever in a U.S. shirt. He was absolutely listless and wasn't involved in the match whatsoever. For a striker who has been struggled to score, you would think that he would work hard to make an impact in other ways, but Altidore wasn't doing that.
In this match against Canada he is doing everything that has been asked of him. U.S. fans, cue the smile. Altidore is playing like he cares.
After more than a half hour of being invisible, Dwayne De Rosario finally made his presence felt and it almost resulted in an equalizer. For the first time all match Canada got a bit of possession from the United States and knocked the ball around a bit. Slowly but surely forcing the U.S. tor retreat with their possession, some space opened in the middle and De Rosario found it. He got the ball and didn't hesitate to shoot. He struck it with pace and bend, beating U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, but going a foot wide of the post.
Despite De Rosario's shot going wide, it was encouraging for Canada to get the chance after a spell of possession. Trailing 1-0 and being thoroughly outplayed, Canada needs to have a couple moments like the one that led to De Rosario's chance. With a few of those they can continue to build and start making headway towards leveling this match.
It's tough to win matches when you are dominated in the center of the field. It's really tough to win matches when you are dominated in the center of the field and you aren't as good as your opponent to begin with. Canada is not as good as the United States and their attempt at pulling an upset is being foiled by their complete inability to play in the center. That is largely because of the absence of Julian de Guzman, who is out with an injury and leaves Canada without their best central midfielder.
If de Guzman is Canada's best central midfielder, Dwayne De Rosario is their best attacking player. Unfortunately for the Canucks, De Rosario has been almost invisible because he hasn't seen the ball at all. Without de Guzman to pass through the center to Rosario, he is missing. Add in Canada's complete inability to close down space and disrupt the U.S. play through the center and it's just a nightmare for the Canucks in the middle. Terry Dunfield, you are not Julian de Guzman and it shows.
Usually Landon Donovan plays on the left side of the midfield for the United States and Clint Dempsey plays on the right. Both like to cut inside and seeing them switch is not rare, but Donovan is most often on the left. Against Canada in their Gold Cup opener though, head coach Bob Bradley has switched Donovan over to the right and with great results so far.
Will Johnson is an energetic, fit and tough player to go against. He is lined up on the right side of the Canadian midfield and if Donovan were on the left, he would make things very hard on the American star. Johnson is precisely the type of player that could give Donovan problems, with his ability to close down and run. On the right side though, Donovan has found acres of space. He's been dangerous running with the ball and played the long ball to Altidore that led to the first U.S. goal.
Bradley is often criticized for his tactics, but on this one he has been spot on. Getting Donovan away from Johnson has opened up play for the U.S. and proven to be very effective already. Point Bradley.
Jozy Altidore has been criticized plenty lately, but there is no criticism for him at this moment. That is because the 21-year-old was able to turn and strike, beating Canada goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld for the opening goal of this Gold Cup Group C match. It is Altidore's 11th goal for the United States and just 14 minutes into the Americans' Gold Cup campaign, they are one goal up.
Landon Donovan is the one who played Altidore in with a long ball over the top. Kevin McKenna had the chance to step up and get Altidore caught offside, but he didn't. Altidore ran onto Donovan's perfect ball in the box and took two quick touches before turning and firing at goal. It was a good play by Altidore to touch, turn and fire a shot with pace, but the shot was one that Hirschfeld should have gotten down to make the save on. He didn't though and Altifore had himself a goal.
So early in a match it is tough to say that a goal is so very much deserved, but it was a very much deserved goal for the U.S. They have completely dominated Canada in the early going, already peppering several shots towards the goal and getting four corner kicks while the Canucks haven't even been able to get any possession whatsoever. The U.S. has one, but the way this one is going they will get a few more before long.
Canada had hopes of pulling an upset over the heavily favored United States, but if the first 10 minutes are any indication they have no chance. They have barely attacked whatsoever and the U.S. has spent the entire time in the Canadian attacking third. The U.S. already has four corners kicks and have taken several shots inside the box, only to have them blocked.
It would be unreasonable for Canada to keep this up for much longer and not give up a goal. They need to get some of the ball and at least get an opportunity to breathe upon occasion. That starts with the central midfield and specifically Terry Dunfield, who has been poor. This is his first competitive international match and looks very much out of his depth. He's slow to close down and has already had poor giveaways. The injured Julian de Guzman is sorely missed by Stephen Hart's team.
It took all of two minutes for the U.S. to get chances at a goal. It started when a long ball over the top to Jozy Altidore resulted in Andre Hainault grabbing Altidore and bringing him down just outside the box. There wasn't much of a pull, but he put his arm around Altidore and the American used it as an excuse to go down. The referee awarded the free kick and the U.S. had their first chance.
Clint Dempsey took the free kick and it clipped the wall before going out for a corner kick. They couldn't get a chance right off the corner, but Canada struggled to clear. Two more shots were played towards the goal but all were blocked. The second block bounced back to Michael Bradley who had time to shoot from 15 yards. That too was blocked so the U.S. didn't get a goal, but they are really pressing early on.
United States head coach Bob Bradley asks for more from his strikers than to score. He should considering their inability to score, but he has always believed that even the team's top goal scorers should play a part in defending as well and that is exactly what the U.S. is doing early in their Gold Cup match against Canada.
Both U.S. strikers, Jozy Altidore and Juan Agudelo, began the match by pressing Canada very high up the field and forcing the Canadian back line to get rid of the ball quickly. It paid off with a quick giveaway and even the midfield is bery high up the field.
Early on it has proved to be very effective in keeping Canada from building from the back, but it does leave the U.S. susceptible to long balls over the top. With Tim Ream, Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra as three of the four U.S. defenders, they are slow of foot too, making the long ball even more appealing for Canada.
Panama was up 3-0 and up a man with just over a half hour to play. Guadeloupe was dead and buried. The match was over, at least that was the common thinking. The Gold Cup has no room for common thinking though. Guadeloupe battled back to score two goals, but it wasn't enough. Panama barely hung on to grab a 3-2 win over Guadeloupe in the Gold Cup Group C opener at Ford Field in Detroit, MI, but it was hardly a win that will inspire confidence in the Panamanians.
The scoring started with Blas Perez in the 29th minute. Luis Tejada chested a ball down to Perez, who was in behind the Guadeloupe defense. Guadeloupe thought Perez was offiside, but the flag never went up and Perez finished easily.
Just three minutes later Panama had themselves a second and this time Tejada did the finishing. A quick counter-attack led to Tejada getting the ball with only a couple scrambling separating him from the goal. A quick cutback took care of those defenders and Tejada put his shot into the side for a 2-0 lead.
Things got worse for Guadeloupe when Mickael Tacalfred was shown red for stepping on a prone Panama player after arriving late to the ball. A second half penalty that put Panama ahead 3-0 should have ended the match, but it didn't.
Panama went to watching instead of defending. Brice Jovial raced around one defender while another defender watched and Guadeloupe had themselves one goal. It was nothing though. It sure became something when Jovial got his toe to a cross and deflected it in for a second goal though. All of a sudden, it was 3-2. The comeback wasn't completed though as Panama just barely held on.
Panama is now atop Group C with three points, while Guadeloupe has none and the United States and Canada yet to play. Panama will play next against the U.S. on Saturday in Tampa Bay, FL and Guadeloupe will play the Canadians.
So maybe Guadeloupe aren't dead? Panama has taken their foot off the gas pedal and let Guadeloupe back into this match despite Guadeloupe being down a man. Panama were in control, up 3-0 and just had to see out the rest of the match, but seeing out the rest of the match requires playing it, not taking a nap. That's what Panama has done, allowing Brice Jovial to score his second goal of the match to cut the lead to 3-2 with 12 minutes to play.
Richard Socrier was unmarked on the right side of the box, but the pass into him was a little behind him. It didn't matter because he took a great first touch to get the ball in front of him and with a man beginning to close him down played the ball across the face of goal. Jovial came sprinting in, unmarked, and slide. He only barely got a toe to it, but that was all he needed to get on it. The ball was redirected just inside the post for the Guadeloupe goal. Game on!
Panama could be excused for falling asleep. Leading 3-0, up a man and having dominated the first 64 minutes they probably thought the match was over and that they could cruise the rest of the way. Guadeloupe wasn't giving up though. With Panama napping, Brice Jovial charged forward and got Guadeloupe on the board to cut the lead to 3-1.
Jovial had the ball knocked down for him just outside the box and easily ran past one defender. Another defender just watched and Jovial was in on goal. His initial shot was saved, but the rebound bounced right back to him and he put it into the empty net to get Guadeloupe a goal.
As much as Panama could be excused for falling asleep, this goal could come back to haunt them. If the United States and Canada finish first and second in Group C, Panama will have to be one of the two best third place finishers in the tournament. That is often determined by goal difference so every goal matters. Hopefully for Panama, this one won't.
Panama is already better than Guadeloupe and they are up a man after a first half red card to Mickael Tacalfred. The Panamanians most certainly do not need any extra help to win, but that's what they got. A foul by Miguel Comminges on Blas Perez left the referee no choice, but to point to the penalty spot. Panama had themselves a penalty kick, one they converted, and now they have themselves a 3-0 lead with more than a half hour left to play in this Gold Cup Group C match.
One the penalty was given, Gabriel Gomez stepped to the spot and drilled a hard shot to the goalkeeper's right. Guadeloupe keeper Franck Grandel guessed right and dove, but the shot was hard and high. Grandel did not have a chance and Panama were ahead 3-0.
This match has been all-Panama from the beginning and with Guadeloupe down a man it is hard to imagine a comeback. Panama will need to keep pressing though to pad their goal difference, something that could make a huge difference when it's time to determine who moves on to the knockout stages.
So much for another dream run for Guadeloupe. They made it all the way to the semifinals in the 2007 Gold Cup and opened the eyes of everyone along the way, but it looks like a similar run is dead. It may only be the first match of the tournament, but Guadeloupe is already looking at a long ways back in Group C with Panama leading 2-0 at halftime. Blas Perez and Luis Tejada each scored to put Panama on top, then Mickael Tacalfred picked up a red card to put Guadeloupe down a man.
Tejada set up Perez for Panama's first goal, chesting a long throw in down for an open Perez, who scored easily. There was question as to whether or not Perez was offside and the replay showed it to be a razor thin call, but the flag stayed down and Perez had a goal.
With an assists to his name already, Tejada wanted to his name name on the scoresheet and did with a finish of his own. Armando Cooper ran onto a long pass before laying it off to Tejada, who hesitated and cutback to lose his defender before finishing easily.
Leading 2-0, Panama was already in control, but going up a man only helped them out. Tacalfred was chasing a ball and got to it late. He decided to run on though, stepping on a Panamanian who was on the ground and drawing a straight red card to putting Guadeloupe in an even bigger hole.
No Rob Friend? No surprise. A 4-4-1-1 and not a 4-3-3? Again, no surprise. Canada is going with exactly the same lineup they played against Ecuador in a friendly last week in tonight's Gold Cup Group C match against the United States. A team some pegged as a potential surprise team in this tournament, the Canucks can make a statement very early on with a result against the Americans at Ford Field in Detroit, MI.
The most interesting match up will be the United States' Landon Donovan against Canada's Will Johnson. Everyone knows that without Donovan the U.S. attack slows considerably and Johnson is the type of player that can make things difficult on Donovan. Johnson does not know the meaning of the word tired and has the ability to run with Donovan, keeping him from finding the open space he likes to run in.
Canada (4-4-1-1): Hirschfeld; Ledgerwood, McKenna, Hainault, de Jong; Johnson, Dunfield, Simpson, Hutchinson; De Rosario; Jackson
Bench: Borjan, Klukowski, Beaulieu-Bourgault, Peters, Friend, Gerba, Ricketts
It took 29 minutes for Panama to get their first goal against Guadeloupe, but just three minutes more to get their second goal. Luis Tejada picked up the assist on the Panamanians' first goal of the match, but decided to do the finishing for the second and just 32 minutes into their Gold Cup campaign Panama has themselves a 2-0 lead.
Armando Cooper ran onto a long ball from midfield and gathered it 30 yards from goal. A couple touches later, he found Tejada streaking down the center. Tejada didn't take the best of first touches, but he managed to gather the ball and continue running at the defense. A hesitation and cutback later, the Guadeloupe defenders were on the ground and out of position, making it an easy finish for Tejada.
It is a fitting 2-0 lead for Panama. Guadeloupe may have been the darlings of the 2007 Gold Cup by making the semifinals, but they have been no match for the dominant Panamanians.
The United States' formation, player selection and just about anything else has been a question mark for months. It is still a work in progress, but the Gold Cup is ready to start so they need something that is not an experiment and instead an attempt to win. With that, Oguchi Onyewu goes to the bench, as he should. Clarence Goodson gets the start, as he should. Juan Agudelo is in the starting XI, surprising some considering his lack of starts for his club and U.S. experimentation with a five-man midfield.
The U.S. will play in a 4-4-2 almost identical to the one they played with in last summer's World Cup. It really looks more like a 4-2-2-2 with Steve Cherundolo free to push up from his right back position and Carlos Bocanegra balancing it out with a stay at home approach at left back. The two central midfielders will seat deeper with Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey in front of them and regularly cutting in. If nothing else it is a familiar set up for the U.S.
The easy money was on Blas Perez to score the first goal for Panama in the Gold Cup and that's exactly what he did. Okay, maybe there wasn't easy money on Perez scoring or any money at all. Even gambling addicts were probably unaware that there was a soccer match between Panama and Guadeloupe to bet on, but if you had money on Perez, congratulations.
The goal came from a long throw in. Panama made one from the right and the throw in was a beauty, flying all the way to the penalty spot where Luis Tejada chested it down into the path of Perez. Guadeloupe argued that Perez was offside and he may have been. It was as close as could be and even the replays did not make anything definitive, but the flag stayed down and Perez had an easy finish for the goal. It is Perez's 16th international goal, but more importantly it puts Panama on top 29 minutes in.
Tonight's Gold Cup Group C action is taking place at Ford Field in Detroit, MI, a domed stadium that normally has artificial turf. For tonight's matches though, they have laid down grass over the turf to provide a surface that is much more conducive to soccer than turf, which is often derided by players no matter how "good" or new it may be. The problem is, temporary grass isn't a very good surface either.
While an improvement on artificial turf, temporary grass does not have too much in common with natural grass. It is full of seams since it hasn't been down long enough to grow together and it is often bumpy because it doesn't have time to settle. The early play in the first match of the Group C doubleheader between Panama and Guadeloupe has already shown some of the issues with the temporary grass as it plays very slow and the ball is not rolling smoothly.
Temporary grass may be an improvement on turf, but there are enough stadiums in the U.S. with natural grass to play on. The U.S. team won't play on temporary grass during World Cup qualifiers, but CONCACAF will play on it. I guess it is not a surprise consider they are playing other matches in the tournament on turf. This is CONCACAF's championship tournament, right? Anything for a buck with good ol' CONCACAF.
The match everyone has been waiting for is about to get underway at Ford Field in Detroit, MI. You got it. Panama and Guadeloupe are just minutes away from the match that will have the eyes of the entire world. Okay, maybe not. It is being played in a stadium that is nearly empty and there might be even fewer people watching on TV, but it is still the first match of Group C in the 2011 Gold Cup.
Guadeloupe may seem like a team that doesn't matter, but those who think that would be wrong to completely overlook them. They qualified for the knockout stages in the 2009 Gold Cup and in 2007 went all the way to the semifinals where they lost a close match to Panama. The Panamanians aren't a group to dismiss either. They too have qualified for the knockout stages in the last two Gold Cups and back in 2005 they went all the way to the final where they lost to the U.S. on penalties. Sure, neither team is going to make a dent on the world scene, but in CONCACAF, they matter a little bit.
Panama: Penedo, Gomez, Perez, Barahona, Cooper, Machado, Dasent, Henriquez, Tejada, Baloy, Henriquez
Guadeloupe: Grandel, Comminges, Viator, Fleurival, Loval, Lambourde, Gendrey, Collet, Auvray, Socrier, Tacalfred
Because Fox Soccer Channel hates everyone who isn't America, most of the Gold Cup isn't on English language television. However, you're in luck, English-speakers. They're showing the United States games, and do you know who's playing tonight? AMURRICAH! The USA takes on Canada in Gold Cup Group A, and this game is on the tubs in English. That's the late game; Panama takes on Guadaloupe in the early game.
Gold Cup Group A
Panama vs. Guadaloupe - 6:00 pm ET
United States vs. Canada - 8:00 pm ET
Venue: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Panama vs. Guadaloupe
Galavision (United States - Spanish), Setanta Sports (Canada)
United States vs. Canada
Fox Soccer Channel (United States - English), Telefutura (United States - Spanish), Rogers Sportsnet (Canada)
Of all the United States players under fire in recent years, few have been the subject of more scrutiny than Jozy Altidore. The former phenom now considered by many to be a disappointment was supposed to be the team's answer to their problem at forward. With Juan Agudelo leading a pack of younger strikers challenging Altidore for the first time in years and looking to displace him from his seemingly permanent starting spot, Altidore has a challenge on his hands.
It is not head coach Bob Bradley's fault that Altidore has become a permanent starter. There hasn't been anyone else that has made a strong enough case to take his spot so while Altidore has stumbled in the last two years he has remained the best option that the Americans have. That may not be the case for much longer though with the development of Juan Agudelo and Teal Bunbury, which puts the pressure on Altidore to have a good Gold Cup.
Even as Altidore has struggled, he's managed to make an impact against CONCACAF teams. He finished second in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with five goals even as his form dipped. That bodes well for him and the U.S. heading into the Gold Cup. He can play against the weaker CONCACAF teams and produce. Until the final, the U.S. will play five weaker teams, which means Altidore will have five chances to add to his goal total.
Altidore's success in the Gold Cup will not be an indication that "he's back." Countless U.S. strikers have proven dangerous against CONCACAF teams, but unable to have that kind of success against top international teams or with their club teams. That doesn't mean that the U.S. couldn't use his goalscoring in the Gold Cup. They most definitely could and they will likely get it considering his track record of performing in CONCACAF. One goal, two goals, three or even four, Altidore is primed for a big tournament.
Chris Wondolowski almost certainly will not be making his first competitive start for the United States national team on Tuesday night, but that won't stop me from wondering whether or not he's deserving. The 28-year-old sometimes striker, sometimes right winger has been in impeccable form in MLS over the last year and a half, but it's not often that average 28-year-olds suddenly become international quality.
As a result, I'm not terribly sold on Wondolowski as a viable option. Career journeymen starting for the United States is something that leaves a bad taste in the mouth of many, but his form and versatility mean he's certainly worth at least a look at present.
If Bob Bradley wants to stick with a 4-4-2 formation, various arguments can be made for Wondolowski starting ahead of either Juan Agudelo or Jozy Altidore, as he's certainly beating both of them on form at the moment. If Bradley wants to shift to an attack-minded variation on 4-5-1 with either Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey playing off of a central striker, a case can be made for Wondolowski filling that vacated spot on the wing.
Chris Wondolowski isn't nearly as talented as Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, or Alejandro Bedoya, as evidenced by his long-standing status as a journeyman striker. But sometimes it's just a good idea to go with the hot hand, logic or natural talent be damned. Especially when your other options (read: Altidore) just aren't getting it done.
Ever since Bob Bradley was rehired as United States national team coach last August, the team has undergone a change in tactics. A formation change went along with the usual player change after a World Cup, but with mixed results. Nine months after Bradley was rehired there is still no consensus on what the best formation is for the U.S., but odds are they will play a five-man midfield against Canada in their Gold Cup opener.
The 4-4-2 (or really even 4-2-2-2) formation that the Americans favored leading up to the 2010 World Cup and then in South Africa for the World Cup was tossed away. Instead, Bradley implemented a 4-5-1 formation, sometimes in a 4-2-3-1 and other times in a 4-3-2-1, but almost always with five midfielders. It made sense. The U.S. does not have one proven, quality striker, let alone two, and midfield remains the team's deepest position. The 4-5-1 allowed the Americans to get their best players on the field.
It didn't work out as planned though. For all of the midfield options at Bradley's disposal, he hasn't found a central midfield pairing that works well and Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are still the only two dangerous attacking options. Their go-to central midfielder, Michael Bradley, struggled to get playing time after a January move to Aston Villa and their most improved midfielder, Stuart Holden, was lost for at least six months with an injury. At the same time, the U.S. still couldn't find a striker to handle the load up top.
In the months leading up to the Gold Cup, the U.S. started working the 4-4-2 back into the mix and the result were undoubtedly better. Jozy Altidore played better with a partner up top and both Donovan and Dempsey found more space to work with. Maybe the five-man midfield that seemed like such an obvious way to play for the U.S. wasn't so good after all?
Heading into the Gold Cup, the U.S. still doesn't know what their best formation is. They will use both formations throughout the tournament, but the one that they will likely go into first is the 4-5-1. Bradley took only three strikers with him to the Gold Cup and it looks as if heading into their tournament opener against Canada only one is ready to start.
Chris Wondolowski was one of the surprise picks on the roster and as surprising his making the team may have been, his starting in the opener would be even more surprising. Juan Agudelo, for all the hype and excitement, is still coming off of the bench for the New York Red Bulls and hasn't been asked to go 90 minutes much. Having just played 60 minutes on Saturday against Spain, asking Agudelo to start against Canada would be asking for too much.
That leaves Altidore, the Americans' only real striker option to start against the Canucks. Technically, Bradley would name Dempsey as Altidore's strike partner with Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers or Alejandro Bedoya on the wing, but Dempsey isn't an out-and-out striker. Even if the team sheet put Dempsey up top, he was drop below Altidore and operate as the attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1.
LIke it or not, the U.S. is likely to play with five in the midfield against Canada. The real question is which five make up the midfield and whether it is the more defensive alignment with Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones all starting or a more attacking five with two of those three and a more attack-minded three in front of them.
Landon Donovan is already the United States' all-time leading scorer and now he might become the leading scorer in CONCACAF Gold Cup history. Former Mexican strike Luis Roberto Alves or "Zaguinho" was the tournament's all-time leading scorer with 12 goals in Gold Cup play, but Donovan equaled him in 2007 when he scored a penalty in the final. Now, he enters the 2011 tournament one goal away from becoming the outright leader in goals in CONCACAF's championship tournament.
Any betting man would have to put money on Donovan scoring a goal to become the all-time tournament leading goalscorer. The American has played in four previous Gold Cups, scoring in each and leading or co-leading the tournament in scoring twice. With the U.S. considered one of the two favorites to win the tournament, Donovan should get at least six matches to notch the record-setting goal, beginning Tuesday night against Canada and ending at the final on June 25, if the U.S. makes it that far.
As one of the two Canadian-based blogs on our soccer network here at SB Nation, Eighty-Six Forever is doing a little bit of talking about Gold Cup 2011 and the Canadian national team. Tonight, they take on the United States in Group C action, kicking off Gold Cup play for both teams. The USA are the favorites, unsurprisingly, but not as heavy of favorites as you might think.
This year's Canadian team is the best and deepest team that they have taken to Gold Cup in quite some time, and they have a few players capable of providing the United States with some legitimate problems. As Ben points out, Canada has what it takes to upset almost anyone in Gold Cup:
As for Canada, well, anything I say about them will reek of partiality. They're not perfect, but they have a stronger team than usual as well as the depth to cope with a few injuries. For once, goalkeeping isn't a question and the midfield finally seems more-or-less settled. There are no Paul Stalteri types clinging on for one last ride. Except for Mexico, I think beating every team in this tournament is within the bounds of reason for the Canucks.
Of course, it's worth pointing out that Ben added that qualifier, "Except for Mexico." There seems to be a general consensus that Mexico is a class above the field this year, but we won't find out if that's true until the likes of the United States, Canada, and Costa Rica get a shot at El Tri. Tonight's game might give us an indication of whether or not the former two teams have a chance.
Just three days ago, the United States was clobbered by Spain in a friendly that was supposed to be a warm-up for the Gold Cup. While losing in friendlies is no big deal, especially to the best team in the world, the manner of the loss was concerning. With the stars sitting out and the backups taking a beating, we learned absolutely nothing about the team. The only positive to come out of the game was a paycheck.
A few days earlier, Canada played a much weaker opponent in Ecuador. Though the match ended in a 2-2 draw, Canada were the better side than the talented Copa America participants for most of the game as they put in an encouraging performance.
You would be hard pressed to find even the most die-hard Canadian fan who is willing to argue that Canada is a better team than the United States, but taking each team's last friendly into consideration, it's possible that the intangibles are on Canada's side to such a degree that they have a chance to pull the upset. That was, before some injuries.
Dejan Jakovic went down in that Ecuador friendly and will not be playing. Josh Simpson, arguably Canada's best player, is rumored to have picked up an injury and is questionable. There's also the matter of who is first choice for Canada and what the starting formation is; that last game really screwed with the consensus on what Stephen Hart is thinking.
Canada's setup in that Ecuador game was very effective. A 4-4-1-1 formation with Simeon Jackson as a lone striker and Dwayne De Rosario supporting him in a free role. They had decent possession against a team of superior passers, De Rosario looked at home in his natural role, and Simpson was made into the focal point of the attack. However, Jackson isn't exactly 'lone striker' material in the eyes of many, and Ali Gerba or Rob Friend could start up top instead.
However, benching Jackson is not an option. So, many predictions have him fitting on the right side of a 4-3-3 formation that plays De Rosario ahead of a double pivot. Due to Jackson's speed and lack of hold-up skills as a No. 9, this sounds like a good idea in theory, but Jackson has not been great in the past as a right winger for Canada.
The reason the 4-4-1-1 setup seems like a more likely scenario is not all about Jackson's attacking skills or lack thereof as a right winger, though. The reason is because of the matchup it creates on Canada's right, which is where Landon Donovan will likely be playing for the United States. If Canada use a 4-3-3 with Jackson on the right, he's probably not going to be effective (or even present) tracking back on defense. If Canada thinks they can leave Donovan alone on the left, they're going to get skinned. If one of the central midfielders drifts wide to help on Donovan, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones can keep the ball all day.
Will Johnson started on the right against Ecuador, and it probably wasn't Stephen Hart trying something new just for kicks. He probably wanted to get his team and Johnson ready to play that way, because that was the setup that he wanted to run to counter Donovan. Based on Johnson's play at Real Salt Lake as a two-way wide player, it's probably a very good idea.
And while Canada would probably prefer a forward with better hold-up play than Simeon Jackson, he probably wasn't in that role as a simple experiment either. The United States' central defenders are all either slow or inexperienced, and Jackson has speed and great finishing instincts. It might only take one mistake for him to score a goal, and we all know that the United States defense has a mistake in them.
The good news for United States fans is that Canada's defense is less accomplished and less talented than that of the USMNT. A back four of Marcel de Jong, Kevin McKenna, Andre Hainault and Nik Ledgerwood probably isn't keeping Bob Bradley up at night.
It's tough to predict what Bradley will do with his team, but a 4-4-2 setup seems most likely. Juan Agudelo will probably be preferred next to Jozy Altidore, while the usual four of Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley and Jones will sit behind them in midfield.
The back is a different story, and there are conflicting reports on what the first team is. The biggest question centers around Carlos Bocanegra, who has a lot of starts under his belt at both left back and central defense. He's proven equally adept at both positions, and the United States is lacking in clear-cut starting options behind him in both positions. However, Clarence Goodson is probably a better option than all of Jonathan Spector, Eric Lichaj and Jonathan Bornstein right now, so Bocanegra on the left with Oguchi Onyewu and Clarence Goodson in the middle seems to be the most likely setup.
Canada will not be favored to get a result tonight, but they are worthy opponents for the United States, especially if Simpson is 90 minutes fit. He's Canada's most entertaining player, and it would be a shame to see him miss this game.
Most of our questions about the two teams should be answered tonight. Until then, we'll just have to wait and see.
Also tonight: Panama vs. Guadeloupe
Both of these teams have a chance to challenge Canada for second place in the group. Panama's players to watch are striker Blas Perez and central defender Felipe Baloy, both of whom have had successful club careers in Mexico. Guadeloupe has a number of players who have appeared in Ligue 1 and who are established players in Ligue 2.
As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.
Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.
Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.
As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.
Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.
We'll email you a reset link.
If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.
You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.
We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.
You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.
We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.
Choose an available username to complete sign up.
In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.