U.S. takes Gold Cup title

By Jacob Onak

The U.S. men’s soccer team has once again been crowned Gold Cup Champions.

Sunday, Brek Shea’s 69th-minute goal earned the States its fifth Gold Cup title and extended its current win streak to 11.

The Gold Cup had a number of story lines, one of the biggest being the return of Landon Donovan.

Donovan came back to the United States taking a break from professional soccer to get his mind right. When he returned to LA Galaxy his play wasn’t as inspiring as most had hoped, so the Gold Cup was a good test for the veteran — a test he aced, in my opinion.

Throughout the tournament it was clear Donovan was hungry. He broke the 50 national team goal and 50 assists milestones and became the go-to guy when it came to penalties. He showed Jurgen Klinsmann he deserved to be called into the upcoming World Cup qualifiers in September and won the Golden Ball of the tournament, which is given to the MVP of the Gold Cup.

Another story line was the impressive depth the United States showed in this Gold Cup. Klinsmann called in players who were fighting for spots on the “A” squad, if you will, and there were a number of players to step up.

In goal, Nick Rimando didn’t have much to do, but he also didn’t make any mistakes. He showed his comfort with the ball at his feet and secured the third goalie spot behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.

In defense, I thought Michael Parkhurst had a quiet but solid performance. With Steve Cherundolo coming back from injury to reclaim the top right back spot, Parkhurst will have to battle it out with Brad Evans and Timmy Chandler for the second and third spot, but the Gold Cup did him no harm.

In midfield, the story was the emergence of Mix Diskerud and the return of Stuart Holden in the center. Diskerud earned himself a callup for the September qualifiers as well as pushed himself into a spot where he can slot in for Michael Bradley or Jermaine Jones if needed.

Holden’s return to form was shadowed with an early exit from the Gold Cup final. The Bolton man came up limping after a challenge with a Panamanian player in the 23rd minute.

The U.S. staff said it was a knee sprain but the MRI showed that he had torn his ACL in his right knee. Your heart went out to Holden when you saw him with his head in his hands on the bench. The Houston native had just found his form again after having to sit out for two years to recover from ligament damage.

Up top, Chris Wondolowski came in a three-way tie for the Golden Boot, awarded to the player with the most goals in the tournament. “Wondo” tied with Donovan and Panama’s Gabriel Torres with five goals. Wondo didn’t do himself any harm, but was ultimately replaced by Eddie Johnson in the semifinal and the final.

The Yanks looks stronger and deeper than I have even seen them, and it seems Klinsmann is finally delivering the type of soccer he promised from the start.