Gold Cup 2013: Why It's the Americans' Tournament To Lose
Upsets are in the air at the Gold Cup 2013, as both Canada and Mexico lost their opening matches.
While that may be worrisome to the United States, if anything, it strengthens its position. This is, without a doubt, the Americans' tournament to lose.
For one, they are entering the tournament on a hot streak. They are 5-0 in their last five matches and have outscored their opponents 15-4.
Not only that, but they're playing lock-down defense, having registered clean sheets in their last three matches.
The return of Landon Donovan, one of the most decorated members in the history of United States soccer, has done wonders for the offense. The LA Galaxy star tallied two goals in his return to the international scene against Guatemala.
Donovan is a leader with plenty of experience, and it shows when he told Zac Lee Rigg of Goal.com that the upsets of Mexico and Canada are a wake-up call for the team:
We saw the results yesterday and that's a good wake-up call. We can't be complacent. When you play in a group stage where there's only three games, every game matters immensely. We're very aware of that and we'll be ready to play.
With Donovan back, there is less pressure on Herculez Gomez to be the focal point of the attack. The offense can open up a bit, allowing more players to get in on the action.
In addition, their chief rival for the Gold Cup, Mexico, is stumbling. Not only did they lose in shocking fashion to Panama in the opening match of the Gold Cup, they also lost twice in the Confederations Cup.
El Tri also finds themselves behind both Costa Rica and the United States in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying hexagonal, a position that would send them to Brazil, but not one many fans expected to see Mexico in.
The Gold Cup seemed to be an opportunity for Mexico to right the ship, but it's only made things worse. The U.S. will now have a chance to cruise past Mexico and capture the tournament crown.
For once, it seems like this is America's time. Mexico has hit an inexplicable wall. The rest of the competition is marginal, at best.
If the Americans do not win this tournament it will because of their own mistakes on the pitch, not by being out-played by another team.
It starts Tuesday against Belize, a team that has already been knocked out of World Cup contention. There's been a rash of upsets at this tournament, but the Americans have the talent and veteran leadership to fend off any upstart teams.
A win at the Gold Cup will lead them on their way to not only win the Gold Cup, but perhaps even go on a deep run in Rio. This could be the start of something special.
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