The biennial international CONCACAF soccer tournament is on the horizon, and American soccer fans can rejoice in the fact that they enter this 2015 Gold Cup as the heavy favorites to win the title. While it may seem a tough task given the great improvements in the region (evidenced by 3 CONCACAF teams progressing to the knockout rounds of the 2014 World Cup), the USA is more than equipped to handle the competition, especially on home soil. Here are 5 points as to why America is destined to repeat at this Gold Cup:
- The Best Roster – Comparing the might of the United States’ soccer team against those of the Caribbean island and Central American nations is largely unfair. There’s no doubt about it; the USA is vastly superior. From stars like Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley, to hungry up-and-coming youngsters like DeAndre Yedlin and Gyasi Zardes, the USA should run their opponents off the pitch. Manager Jurgen Klinsmann has fielded a great balance of players that retains the core group of key players with a supporting cast of highly talented guys ready to grab their opportunity at a major tournament. The defense is a bit inexperienced, but is relying on players like Omar Gonzalez and Fabian Johnson to realize their potential as they enter their peak years. This should be the time this young group truly clicks.
- A Solid Goalkeeper – The one glaring omission from the USA Gold Cup squad is Tim Howard, the hero who has kept the team alive against many a more talented opponent with world class saves time and time again. In his place will be Brad Guzan of Aston Villa, who has quietly produced a tremendous career in the English Premier League and as Howard’s backup for the USA. 6 years younger than Howard, Guzan represents the possible future at the position and this will be his chance to seize it. A 30-year-old keeper with over 100 EPL starts will be more than serviceable at the Gold Cup.
- Top Form – How a team has played in the run-up to a big tournament can never be underestimated, and the USA has been marvelous as of late. Two friendly wins over European juggernauts Germany and the Netherlands show a team capable of greatness. Incredibly, a roster without many of America’s top players orchestrated those wins. Players like John Brooks and Mix Diskerud led the way. But have no fear, many of those same players have been called up to the Gold Cup, and combined with the likes of Dempsey and Altidore will create a formidable team.
- Experience in the Big Games – Having performed well at the World Cup and having won the 2013 edition of the Gold Cup, America is entering a period of sustained success. This has put them under immense pressure numerous times and they have often pulled through. Additionally, in placing the team in friendlies against top international opponents, Klinsmann has prepared the players for the magnitude of high profile matches. The squad has produced under these circumstances, making them well equipped to handle the games ahead.
- A History of Winning – America has won the Gold Cup 5 times. Only Mexico has won it more (6). Costa Rica or Honduras might pose a challenge, but that’s about it. The USA enters this tournament full well knowing that they should win it, and this will breed a level of confidence. The team has been here before and produced, so it only makes sense to expect them to do the same. Yes, there is a slight chance of over-confidence in such circumstances, but given the superior talent on the roster and their rich Gold Cup history, I certainly see no reason to doubt that America is well poised to win the title at the 2015 Gold Cup!