Gold Cup Final Analysis/Prediction
6/23/2011 6:10:00 PM
Gold cup final in two days time, this Saturday at the Rose Bowl! Unfortunately I was not able to secure tickets, because unlike the other 91 thousand fans, I decided to wait till after the Mexico game to try and get tickets, by which time they were already sold out. Now, for those of you who don't follow football, the gold cup is the marquee tournament for the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) region and me being an addicted football fan (I have too much free time), I shall do a gold cup final breakdown by position and then give my prediction.
USA – 4 wins, 0 draws, 1 loss. How they got to the final: Finished 2nd in group C, beat Jamaica in the quarterfinals, Panama in the semi-finals.
Projected Formation: 4-2-3-1.
Projected Lineup: Howard; Cherundolo, Goodson, Bocanegra, Lichaj; Donovan, Jones, Bradley, Dempsey, Kljestan; Agudelo
Mexico – 5 wins, 0 draws, 0 losses. How they got to the final: Finished 1st in group A, beat Guatemala in the quarterfinals, Honduras in the semi-finals.
Projected Formation: 4-2-3-1.
Projected Lineup: Talavera; Juarez, Marquez, Moreno, Salcido; Barrera, Torrado, Castro, Guardado, dos Santos; Chicharito
Goalkeepers: Tim Howard is by far the best goalkeeper in the CONCACAF, plays in one of the best leagues in the world and is a great leader on the field. While Talavera only starts for Mexico because the real number 1, Memo Ochoa, tested positive for Clenbuterol and was removed from the team. Advantage: USA
Cherundolo vs Juarez: Cherundolo is a proven player at both the league and international level, is the captain of his German side, Hannover 96, and has 70+ caps for the US. Juarez on the other hand isn't proven at the club level, not outside of the mexican league anyway, but has proven time and again to be a big time player for Mexico. With all that said...
Bocanegra vs Marquez: Bocanegra, since moving back to CB from LB, has been solid and a big step up in class from Tim Ream. He has premier league experience and plays in a good french league. He has 90+ caps for USA, has a very high IQ on the pitch, and lets not forget he captains team USA. Marquez, to put it simply, is pure class. He has won two champions league titles with the best club in the world, Barcelona, and has over 100+ caps for Mexico, a side he has captained since he was in his early twenties.
Goodson vs Moreno: Truth be told, I don't know a whole lot of Goodson at the club level, but having seen him play this gold cup, I can say he has decent size, speed, and has a decent football IQ. However, he lacks a lot of experience, and isn't really a proven player internationally. Moreno on the other hand has proven to be one of the best CB's in the dutch league, has World Cup experience under his belt, and is one of the smartest players on the pitch.
Lichaj vs Salcido: No disrespect to Mr. Lichaj but this is by far the easiest of the choices. Lichaj is currently owned by Aston Villa, but has spent the last few years playing in Englands second division. While Salcido has been a top player in the dutch league and has now proven to be a steady player at LB for Fulham in the premier league.
Defensive Advantage: Mexico
Donovan vs Barrera: Donovan, one word comes to mind when I think of Donovan, experience. He has a boatload of experience having played in three world cups, and is a great player at the club level. Why he isn't captain of Team USA I will never know. Barrera, also known as 'dynamite' by Mexico fans, is explosive, but doesn't have the accolades Donovan has both internationally and at the club level.
Bradley vs Torrado: Bradley, the anchor of the US midfield, has a world cup under his belt and has played in both the german and english leagues. When he is on, he can be dominant, when he is off he is terrible. Torrado = steady. He does nothing flashy, and does all the dirty work in the center of the midfield. He is proven internationally with two world cups, and is a proven player, both in spain and the mexican league.
Jones vs Castro: Jones is a great player at the club level, but what he lacks is experience, and that's something you can't go out and buy at the store. Still, he is a hard worker, and like Bradley, when he is on, he is dominant. However, he has proven time and again to be very inconsistent in this gold cup. Castro on the other hand, has been a solid player in the middle of the park for Mexico. He doesn't have the club accolades Jones has since he has played his whole career in Mexico, but has far more experience than Jones. Tough call, but I have to give it to...
Dempsey vs Guardado: Dempsey, bottom line, is a classy player. He doesn't have break away speed, or amazing dribbling skills, but he is a hard worker. You will never see Dempsey give up during a game, he will run up and down the pitch nonstop to help his team. He has great experience and is a proven player, both internationally and at the club level. Guardado, also another classy player, has speed, and vision to go along with his excellent crossing skills. Guardado is another player that will go up and down the pitch to help his team, and like dempsey, he is proven both internationally and at the club level.
Kljestan vs dos Santos: Kljestan, to me, is a rather average player. He does nothing flashy, but he almost always picks out the open man. He really is the weakest player out of the five man midfield for the US but that is because Dempsey and Donovan are just so good. Gio dos Santos, young yet experienced, flashy, fast, great on the ball and a great passer. He is the engine that controls the Mexican attack, and has the ability to make mesmerizing runs at the defense.
Midfield Advantage: Push!
Agudelo vs Chicharito (aka Hernandez): Agudelo = overrated. It is an insult to Chicharito to even have these two compared, and an even bigger insult when people actually say Agudelo is as good as Chicharito! Agudelo has done nothing, nothing! He scored a goal against Argentina, ok, but it was a tap in! He doesn't even start for his club team! Chicharito on the other hand has world cup experience, and is a starter for one of the best teams in the world, Manchester United! I'm going to stop now before I start putting Agudelo down some more.
Bradley vs Chepo: We all know what to expect from Bradley, bunker down. Anyone who has seen the US play, against a good team, knows they will bunker down and hit on the counter. Chepo on the other hand likes to play a fluid, attacking style of play. Bradley has 5 years of international experience, but his style is predictable, Chepo has 6 months experience, but has the better team.
Final thoughts: Here's the bottom line, if the US tries to beat Mexico playing attacking football, they're going to lose, and lose big. I expect the US to bunker down, as usual, and let Mexico control possession of the ball, while hoping to get a counter-attack goal. Mexico will be expecting this and will be very patient, the US would have no problem playing 120 minutes of 0-0 football, but Mexico will just have too much attacking firepower this time around.
Prediction: Mexico wins, 2-0!