The Gold Cup is broken. There’s no reason anyone should have had to have watched what the U.S. Men’s National B Team made fans endure yesterday in Nashville. Sure, this is the year of B level tournaments and B level play and having to watch Germany show that their scrubs can beat everyone else’s studs. And I understand that tournaments like the Gold Cup and Confederations Cup let teams round out their rosters and prepare for the World Cup. Plus, there’s no doubt that teams like New Zealand, Russia, and French Guyana that rarely make it to international tournaments benefit from events like these. But enough is enough.
This tournament is something of a mess. Matches have been scheduled in the heat of the afternoon as if there were a European audience the games were trying to attract. On top of that, Mexico and the U.S. have sent their B sides. The U.S. because they can lose the tournament and still make the World Cup. Mexico is giving their stars time off because they just played the Confederations Cup and coach Juan Carlos Osorio has been suspended for six games answering the question: can Mexico fire a coach for not winning a tournament that he doesn’t even manage the team in?
As far as the Stars and Stripes, there’s an excuse for everyone not to be with the USMNBT. Christian Pulisic is trying to impress a new manager, Danny Williams impressed Huddersfield so much that they bought him and still he needs to impress them more, John Brooks is counting his money, while Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore are taking two weeks off from the MLS season.
In their places, Bruce Arena brought a team with Joe Corona to play the no. 10 role, Ale Bedoya is there to run a lot, Graham Zusi was brought in to show that he needs to be a late sub to see out games rather than start them, Cristian Roldan is on the squad to keep his uniform clean and tidy, and Gyasi Zardes is there to remind everyone that he scored 16 goals in MLS in 2014 but that it isn’t 2014 anymore. Add to it that Bruce Arena is less a coach that tries to implement a specific style and more a coach that tries to play to his players strengths.
All this meant that when the USMNT couldn’t work things out in midfield, perhaps missing Kenny Saief?, Bruce Arena went and subbed off three midfielders for three forwards leaving Dom Dwyer, Gyasi Zardes, Jordan Morris, and Juan Agudelo on the field hoping that four forwards would equal one goal, but that wasn’t an equation that was reducing on Saturday night. One sub that he made was taking Kelyn Rowe, that was despite the fact that he was the best player on the field for the team aside from Brad Guzan.
The U.S. still has time to turn this around. Corona and Acosta will essentially have two friendlies against Nicaragua and Martinique to figure things out before the knock out rounds. If they haven’t gotten things together by then, and Bruce doesn’t bring in reinforcements using the six roster changes he is allowed, this could be a short tournament for the USMNBT.
To make everything worse, Atlanta United is going to resume the MLS season shortly starting essentially the third string keeper. All the while Brad Guzan is starting on a team full of guys who Arena is trying out for the very valuable position of potential World Cup bench player.
In sum, the roster makes no sense, the U.S. is probably going to lose the tournament, and that will sorta be all right because Brad Guzan will be back sooner. At least Germany can’t win this one.