There’s been no question what the United States men’s national team goal was for 2015 — win the CONCACAF Gold Cup. After winning Group A, but largely failing to impress changes were needed and likely to come from manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
On Tuesday, Klinsmann made the allowed three changes to the 23-man roster. He brought in DeMarcus Beasley, Alan Gordon and Joe Corona to replace Jozy Altidore, Alfredo Morales and Greg Garza.
The trio on their way out failed to impress, but there’s no doubt that Altidore’s exit is the highest profile. It’s also the move that needed to be made if the USMNT is going to start scoring goals and winning games going forward.
Altidore failed to net a single goal after starting the opener against Honduras and playing the first half of the Group A finale against Panama.
But, replacing Altidore with Gordon could also be a major gamble, as Gordon hasn’t exactly been a full-time player for his club side, LA Galaxy, this season. He’s made 20 appearances with just six of them coming as starts this season. Yet, Gordon could be the spark the USMNT needs off the bench late in matches as the tournament goes forward thanks to the fact that he’s managed to net four goals as a substitute this season.
There’s also little doubt that all three of these moves are designed for one thing — flexibility. Given the wild nature of anything CONCACAF, the more options a manager has at his disposal the better.
Adding Beasley to the mix is a great example of this. His addition as a left back means there are other parts that can move around. It also was a move to bring stability and experience to a back line that lacked exactly that during group stage play.
“Having DaMarcus come into the team is huge, because of his character, his giving nature, the spirit he brings, but also the high quality he brings,” Klinsmann said, via ussoccer.com. “He brings a lot of experience into this group, and he’s hungry. He’s still as hungry as day one in his career. That speaks for us having him back in the group and now it gives us a couple of different options on how to put pieces together.”
The reality is, what the USMNT put out in winning Group A just wasn’t good enough to compete with the best teams CONCACAF has. Although, this team may catch a break given what we’ve seen from the rest of the big boys of the region.
Mexico drew 0-0 with Guatamela in the second match of Group C play, following a 6-0 drubbing of a depleted Cuba side. Costa Rica has been tied twice in Group B play and faces a win or likely go home scenario on Tuesday night.
It all adds up to a strange, yet timely scenario for a United States men’s national team in a clear transition to a new era.
The on-field results across the Gold Cup and the individual results of the USMNT, shows one thing — it’s that he knows the time to experiment has ended for this Gold Cup.
The serious players and the serious business for this team is in front of it. With these changes, it appears the USMNT has the flexibility, experience and creativity to get through almost anything this tournament could throw at them.
At least that’s what Klinsmann better hope, otherwise it may be a rough go to try and get to that ultimate goal of the 2017 Confederations Cup.