USA vs. Belize: Americans Under the Most Pressure in Gold Cup Match

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USA vs. Belize: Americans Under the Most Pressure in Gold Cup Match
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The CONCACAF Gold Cup might not have the prestige of other international tournaments, but the United States needs these matches to help prepare for the 2014 World Cup. 

With one of the deepest teams in this event, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann decided to take a much different roster than the one that has competed in qualifying matches over the past few months. As a result, there are a number of players with plenty to gain in the coming weeks.

Of course, this also puts a lot of pressure on the first match against Belize. This should be one of the easiest opponents the United States will face for a long time, so it will be important for the squad to showcase their ability in this one.

If these players struggle against Belize, there will be little hope for their future on the national team.


Oguchi Onyewu

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Although Oguchi Onyewu has been a regular player on the United States squad since 2004, he has not been a part of the team's recent matches in World Cup qualifying. Instead, a new batch of prospects have taken over the back line and have seen a good deal of recent success.

This is not good news for the 31-year-old veteran, who is looking to remain a part of the national team as it creeps toward another World Cup appearance.

While he did not have to do much against Guatemala, he was still solid in his first match for the squad in over a year. He has to make sure he remains mistake-free in the upcoming contests.

The United States could use his experience against the top teams in the world, but he must first prove that he can still get it done at a high level.


Clarence Goodson

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While Onyewu was passed over during the last few rounds of qualifying, Clarence Goodson got his chance to shine. Unfortunately, he did not take advantage of the opportunity.

Poor mental and physical mistakes led to easy goals while Goodson was in at center back. The defense did not improve until he was taken out of the lineup.

His future with the squad is on thin ice, but he still has enough talent to turn things around. He could get another chance if Belize and other opponents are kept off the scoreboard.

However, he must be extremely impressive to not only live up to expectations, but also outshine Onyewu playing next to him.


Brek Shea

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After being left off the roster initially, Brek Shea was a late addition when Joshua Gatt was ruled out with a knee injury.

While this is unfortunate for Gatt, it is good for Shea and it is good for the United States team as there is a much better chance that Shea contributes at a high level. 

To this point in his international career, the midfielder has generally been used as a late sub for additional offense. This has not led to much success in matches.

Still, Shea is only 23 years old and could get better with experience. This is his biggest chance to shine for the United States, so he needs to make it count.


Landon Donovan 

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There really should not be much more that Landon Donovan has to prove. He is one of the best players in United States history and continually comes through in big moments.

He also showed that he can still get it done despite missing plenty of time with the team when he scored two goals against Guatemala in a recent friendly.

However, he still needs to prove he can help out when the matches matter, and that starts with Belize. Young players like Graham Zusi and Jozy Altidore have been impressive for the national team since Donovan has been out, and Klinsmann might not want to take them out of the lineup.

While the veteran player should have a spot on the roster for the World Cup, he once again has to earn his playing time with a strong effort in this tournament.


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