Sunday, June 12, 2011

Five Things We Learned From This Round Of Gold Cup Action

1. Footballers, steer away from poultry- The headline story of this week's Gold Cup action was most certainly five Mexican footballers, suspended after testing positive for banned substances. Ochoa, Rodriguez, Bermudez, Naelson and Duenas were the five guilty players, having consumed the performance enhancing drug clenbuterol. The Mexican National Team have attempted to clear the players of suspicion, claiming that the ingestion of the drug was accidental, that it had entered the players' bodies due to its presence in some contaminated chicken. Whether you buy that story or not, Mexico are now seriously shorthanded, and if some of their key players get injured or suspended they could be in real trouble.

2. Maybe The US haven't found their central defensive partnership- I must admit, I was wrong. After singing the praises of the Goodson-Ream defensive axis, I was given an awful shock last night, when the duo were caught out by the mighty, footballing powerhouse which is Panama. Ream in particular was terrible, giving away a sloppy penalty, and struggling to deal with the physicality of Panamanian forward Luis Tejada. Goodson wasn't much better, he lacked composure in defense and also was unable to keep out a hardly menacing Panamanian attack. The duo will have to perform much better against Guadeloupe, or risk being dropped by US coach Bob Bradley.

3. Jamaica deserve to be considered potential winners- While all the attention has been given to the United States' collapse against Panama and the Mexican drug scandal, Jamaica have quietly yet effectively maneuvered themselves into the Quarter Finals. Two goals from Demar Phillips put Jamaica into the next round, the Reggae Boyz have now scored six without reply in this year's Concacaf Gold Cup. With speedy New York Red Bulls winger Dane Richards creating, and Phillips scoring Jamaica have the potential to surprise a few people in this competition. The US have proved that they should no longer be considered odds on candidates for a place in the final, and if Jamaica keep winning then they could usurp the United States' "second favorite" dubbing.

4. Juan Agudelo shouldn't be playing- From the beginning of his reign, Bob Bradley made it clear that he would only select players who were playing for their club teams, not sitting on the bench at big European clubs. Well, the American coach has broken his own rule, Juan Agudelo has shone occasionally when given a chance with the Red Bulls, but at this point in time he is very much New York's third string striker. Given the continued ineffectiveness of Jozy Altidore and Chris Wondolowski's remarkable point blank miss, Juan Agudelo will retain his starting place for the United States' crucial match with Guadeloupe, though his performances certainly don't warrant it. Against Panama, Agudelo did nothing to assist the States' attacking cause, he looked confused on the ball, out of his depth even against such mediocre opposition. Bob Bradley must be starting to regret not bringing Gomez or Bunbury.

5. Gio Dos Santos is back- After hastily making positive conclusions about Jozy Altidore, Clarence Goodson and Tim Ream, I have not learned my lesson, I'm about to do it all over again with Gio Dos Santos. A one time Barcelona prodigy, Dos Santos' career has stalled in recent years, but he still retains bags of talents, something he proved on Thursday night against Cuba. Scoring two goals, Dos Santos forced Chicharito Hernandez to share the spotlight for once, and no doubt bursting with confidence, the Mexican is now ready to push on for the rest of the tournament.

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