How did Liga MX fare in USA's 6-0 win over Guatemala?
The roster in last night's friendly against Guatemala was a nice preview to what we'll be seeing throughout Gold Cup. It carries six players who currently play professionally in Mexico, the most ever on a Gold Cup squad, and five of them started in last night's 6-0 victory.
Overall and speaking with regard to a whole team effort, it was a shaky start, but the players figured it out and ultimately came out with a positive result - something the U.S Men are great at doing. Connecting passes and keeping posession were the biggest issues at first, with a majority of the giveaways coming from the midfield and up top on the left. Here's how our Liga MX players fared on the pitch:
Edgar Castillo (Xolos) gave the ball away a few times but all in all displayed his ability to be quick and versatile, and his sharpness was obvious in his attempts to win balls back and tackle on the wing. He played in a midfield position as opposed to his usual left back spot for Tijuana, something Klinsmann has embraced in his role with this team. We'll see if he adjusts positively in games to come.
Jose "Gringo" Torres (Tigres) started for the first time in almost a year and didn't have any overhwlemingly exciting moments, but he was effective in a pass from Castillo to deliver the ball into the box, which bounced and found Herculez Gomez waiting on the right to flick it in for the USA's first goal. It was a nice trifecta of Liga MX teamwork. Look for more bright moments from the Tigres midfielder in games to come.
Joe Corona did an excellent job of being a pill for the Guatemala defense at certain times, but not until he was moved from attacking midfield to a wider position. He's been sharp for Tijuana, but in this game he didn't seem to gel with the other players. He was advantageous at times, however, making runs into difficult spots, taking defenders with him and freeing up some space for Gomez on his goal in the first half. I expect his Gold Cup performance to improve upon this one, which will be nice because he wasn't bad at all. He's only going to get better the more time he gets, and I wouldn't be suprised to see him credited with an assist or two throughout the tournament.
Gomez is an excellent finisher, as he's proven with Santos Laguna, but the lack of service provided to the striker didn't leave him with much opportunity to show what he's truly capable of. His timing was spot on in his late first half goal which was set up by his Liga MX counterparts.
Gomez, Castillo, and Corona were all subbed out early into the second half and replaced with Chris Wondolowski, Brek Shea, and Alejandro Bedoya, respectively.
DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, with Michael Orozco Fiscal who did not start or play last night) not only was named captain last night and throughout Gold Cup, but he displayed a good performance in the entire game, even in the better part of the first half when tthe US struggled to do anything effective or find a rhythm. He was excellent not only at defending, but getting himself up into the US attack when necessary.
Beasley will look to help his teammates improve throughout the Gold Cup based on last night's performance, and though it was obvious that Castillo, Corona and Gomez have that team chemistry together, Castillo and Corona will likely focus more on better touches on the ball and passing accuracy going forward. Torres will likely improve and step up to make a bigger impact in midfield.
Looking forward to the Gold Cup, this squad as a whole will undoubtedly gel and only become more cohesive. Based on this tune up match, I think we'll see some entertainment and something for fans to be excited about.
The US Men will face Belize in their first Gold Cup game of 2013 at JELD-Wen Field in Portland on July 9th. Gametime is at 8:00p PST and will be televised on FOX Soccer.