With their win on Sunday, The United States Men’s National Soccer Team had their most successful run in the Gold Cup since 2007, when the also took home first place. The difference between this years Gold Cup winners and the team from 2007, is the roster. In 2007 the US team was filled with the countries best and brightest players. They were the same players that played in the 2006 World Cup and even the some that played in 2010. This years squad was structured much differently than that one.
Missing from the roster were names like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore as Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann decided to use this tournament as sort of a tryout for players trying to become a fixture on the USMNT. The Gold Cup roster did have some regular faces, but most were backups or even guys who couldn’t find roster spots during the qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Even after a very impressive showing the last three weeks, only a handful of players from this years Gold Cup team will make the 23 man roster for Brazil.
What does any of that mean for US soccer? It means that the United States is the deepest they have ever been when it comes to soccer talent. The USMNT has had solid players for a long time now but never at any time have they had so many really good players. In years past, sending a secondary team to a tournament like this would have meant an early exit and even difficulty playing against lesser teams. With the wealth of talent that Klinsmann has at his disposal right now, that wasn’t an issue at all. The American backups blew through most of the tournament putting up impressive showings along the way. That was quite a remarkable accomplishment when you consider that the best American squads of recent history haven’t had that kind of success.
Are they on par with the worlds elite soccer nations? No…. but they are definitely headed in the right direction. Keep in mind that It is going to take some time to reach that level, but it finally feels like the have a real shot to do so.