By Ryan Fleming
Sure, there is something that can be said that the United States Men’s National Team did indeed defeat Guadeloupe, 1-0; a team that isn’t even a member of FIFA (this competition is essentially their World Cup). You could also point to what it really means, not too much.
With the win the Yanks advance to the elimination round of the Gold Cup, taking on a Jamaica team that could very well provide an upset and the way Bob Bradley’s team is playing, I wouldn’t look past that possibility.
Tuesday night’s game started rather ominously, with Guadeloupe pressing early, providing for a rather heart-stopping moment when a ball from a corner kick found its way through the seemingly-sleeping defense all the way to Tim Howard. The ball was eventually cleared, but what could have been absolutely devastating for Bradley, who seems to be on the hot seat after every game, served, at least immediately, as a wake-up call.
US forward, Jozy Altidore, who surely didn’t spend a dime at the bar (indeed if he did go to one afterwards), put the Yanks up 1-0 with a rocket from outside the box — an area where the USMNT doesn’t strike from usually. As one of the most under-performing players in the last couple years, Altidore’s goal awoke deep, long forgotten memories of the promise he once had. What Bradley could use most is Altidore playing at his full potential — something that really, still even today, isn’t fully known.
Bradley also showcased Jermaine Jones and Eric Lichaj, both who had quality outings. Jones held the ball well, something US midfielder Maurice Edu struggles. Lichaj added to the US attack, pumping balls forward, and rushing ahead even at times, leading the attack.
What the win really means
The Yanks wasted the rest of their chances, most off US veteran Clint Dempsey’s head. In a game that could have been 5-0, Bradley’s men again played down to their opponent’s level and squeaked away with a win instead of simply running away with it.
The important thing to remember is that the Yanks advanced, albeit not winning the group, which should have been a sure thing. If all goes according to plan the Yanks will take on Mexico in the final, a scenario that has played out last two tournaments.
Getting the three points also means that Bradley can breath, just a little bit. After suffering their first lost in Gold Cup group play ever, the USMNT desperately needed to advance, and they did — that was priority No. 1. To take in account exactly what the Gold Cup means — nothing — but combine that with what the US is ultimately trying to do as a nation — to compete with the best in the world and actually get its population interested — even this competition means so much in the grand scheme of things.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.