With so much riding on this one game, there were bound to be some fireworks, and oh boy did we get some big ones. Both teams walked out on the field at Levi’s Stadium Wednesday night following incredible victories for both sides, with the United States beating Costa Rica with a dominating 2-0 victory, and Jamaica upsetting Mexico by way of a late bomb of a free kick from Kemar Lawrence. Head Coach for the United States, Bruce Arena, opted to field the same starting XI from their previous Gold Cup match against Costa Rica, whereas the Jamaican team featured many changes from their upset victory over Mexico.
The competition in it's entirety apart from winning the Cup was a major success in terms of squad depth, as for the majority of each of the games in the group stage of tournaments, Bruce Arena fielded a team of mostly first-time international players, such as Dom Dwyer and Kelyn Rowe, who both provided ample offensive firepower in the early stages of the tournament. While both players were dropped from the team's knockout-level roster, both have been totally different players in their first matches back with Sporting KC and the Revolution, as a clear leader's mentality has shone through. Rowe was seen bossing around his midfield group of Diego Fagundez, Lee Nguyen, Gershon Koffie and Scott Caldwell, and Dwyer's added experience earned him a transfer to Eastern Conference playoff hopeful Orlando City SC, where the team has been dying for an experienced, proven striker to replace the enigma that is Cyle Larin.
A lot of question marks do still surround the team, as their goalkeeping core is aging, with Tim Howard and Brad Guzan both nearing retirement, and no truly ready young replacement is in the wings prepared to take over. When Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley both finally decide to hang up their cleats, who will take over as captain? What players will Bruce Arena take on with him to the World Cup next summer? Only time will tell, however, this Gold Cup run has lit the fire in the hearts of the U.S. team, and has made the upcoming months much easier for Bruce Arena and co. to prepare for the upcoming winter battles to play in Russia next Summer.
The Men’s team will play again on September 1st, as they'll be facing Costa Rica in a World Cup Qualifier Match.
Photo: (San Francisco Chronicle)
Video: (Fox Soccer)