As soccer fans around the country are watching the U.S. Men's National team qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which takes place in Brazil next summer, there is a break in the qualifiers for the Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is the championship of CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football). CONCACAF is the confederation in which the U.S. plays to qualify for the World Cup. The top three teams qualify automatically, and the fourth can qualify by winning a playoff game with the Asian confederation. The U.S. is currently in first place, but there are several questions that are still unanswered. This timing of the Gold Cup is fantastic, since it gives U.S. Men's National Team coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, the ability to look at younger players to see if they may fit in with the squad next year. Some players have really stepped up and, in my opinion, are showing that they deserve a shot with the first team.
The U.S. started the tournament this year with some real questions about who was going to be relied on next summer to put the ball in the back of the net. Landon Donovan is coming back from a long hiatus and trying to get back to form, but where other scoring production will come from is unknown. Fans are watching to see if there will be a spark from a younger player.
The U.S. is in Group C, which also includes Belize, Costa Rica, and Cuba. In the first game, against Belize, the U.S. took advantage of an over-matched opponent. The highlight of the game was Chris Wondolowski's scoring a hat trick in the first half. Not only did he score three goals before the break but they were all very good, quality goals that came in the run of play. Additional goals by Stuart Holden, Michael Orozco, and Landon Donovan made the final score 6-1. While no one is going to give the U.S. too much credit for beating Belize, it was a good sign.
The next game against Cuba was more of the same: The U.S. started out a bit slow and was down a goal late in the first half, when Landon Donovan tied the score on a penalty. Then, Wondo came alive again in the second half with two more goals. A fourth from Joe Corona rounded out the scoring.
The U.S. now has a real test coming up on Tuesday in Costa Rica. While Belize and Cuba are in no way considered powerhouses, Costa Rica qualified for the 2010 World Cup and is on pace to again qualify for the tournament next summer. Can Wondo continue his scoring streak? Will the U.S. continue on the path toward finding more scoring before the next round of World Cup Qualifying? That is what U.S. fans around the country are waiting to find out.
Tune in to all of the Gold Cup games live on Fox Soccer. The U.S. will play Costa Rica Tuesday night (July 16) at 7 p.m. central.