United States vs. Cuba: 5 Things We Learned from Gold Cup Clash
The United States men’s national team defeated Cuba, 4-1, on Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
The win came on the back of goals by Landon Donovan, Joe Corona and a brace by Chris Wondolowski and kept the U.S. undefeated in CONCACAF Gold Cup group-stage play.
Here are five things we learned from the United States' clash with Cuba.
Brek Shea Was an Unmitigated Disaster
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There is simply no other way to characterize Brek Shea’s performance other than as a complete disaster.
He repeatedly lost possession of the ball whether it was through poor passes, poor touches or on the dribble. His service from the wing was outright dreadful, and U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann replaced him at the half.
According to MLSSoccer.com’s chalkboard, he lost possession 14 times in his 45 minutes of play.
Chris Wondolowski May Be Pushing His Way onto the World Cup Roster
Wondolowski's misspelled uniform from the game vs. Belize.
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Although his haters would vehemently disagree, Chris Wondolowski has done his job as a forward the past two games and just may've worked his way to some first-team minutes.
Yes, his hat trick earlier this week was against lowly Belize, but the goals themselves were quite good. He also scored a poacher’s goal last week against Guatemala, and, to top it all off, notched a brace against Cuba.
Although his second goal Saturday afternoon was similar to his goal against Guatemala—just being in the right place at the right time—his first goal was a beautifully finished flick off the service from Kyle Beckerman.
Following three consecutive seasons as the MLS scoring champ, Wondolowski finally seems to be getting it done at the international level, albeit against some pretty poor competition.
With Jozy Altidore the clear-cut No. 1 in Klinsmann’s 4-2-3-1, Wondolowski may be able to give Terrence Boyd, Herculez Gomez or Eddie Johnson a serious run at one of the remaining forward spots on the U.S. roster.
Joe Corona May (and Probably Should) Push Brad Davis Right off the U.S. Roster
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Very few USMNT fans, outside of hardcore MLS lovers and Houston Dynamo supporters, have ever thought of Brad Davis as an international-class player. However, on repeated occasions over the past year, Klinsmann has called Davis into U.S. camps. Davis even earned caps in the last two World Cup qualifiers and played at least half the game against both Germany and Belgium in recent friendlies.
At the same time, Joe Corona, who is a regular at USMNT camps, has rarely seen the field. In fact, prior to the Gold Cup camp, Corona received a grand total of four minutes in three appearances from June 2012 through June 2013.
Now being given his shot, Corona is stepping up. On Saturday, the Club Tijuana member had another bright game on the wing. He struggled against Guatemala last week while playing in the middle, but since being moved out wide, he has provided good service and consistent possession. He has also been one of the Americans' most active players.
Certainly, like with everyone’s performance in the Gold Cup, his effectiveness must be taken into perspective. That being said, Corona has definitely staked his claim as a player to watch going forward with such solid play so far in the tournament.
Edgar Castillo Continues to Struggle
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Edgar Castillo put in a number of poor performances in the May/June camp as both a winger and defender. That trend has continued as he has struggled in both roles as part of the Gold Cup team.
In the friendly against Guatemala, Castillo was again unimpressive as a winger, and on Saturday against Cuba, Castillo struggled as a defender. He was beat for Cuba’s only goal, as well on a couple of other occasions. And in the first half, particularly, he struggled to be productive in the attack.
He was better in the second half with Jose Torres replacing Brek Shea on the left wing, as Torres tended to tuck into the middle, opening more space for Castillo going forward. However, at this point, Castillo seems to remain firmly behind DaMarcus Beasley and Fabian Johnson (among others) on the depth chart.
Could Michael Orozco Fiscal Be the USMNT's Fourth-Best Center-Back?
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With the USMNT's depth at center-back largely unresolved, Michael Orozco Fiscal’s play has put him solidly in the conversation. He has been good in possession, competent defensively, and a threat in the air on U.S. set pieces.
The Americans haven't faced a competent attack yet in the Gold Cup, but the 27-year-old Orozco is clearly in the hunt with Clarence Goodson, Oguchi Onyewu and possibly Maurice Edu and/or Carlos Bocanegra to be the USMNT's fourth center-back.
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