[USA-GUADELOUPE] Here are three points of emphasis following the USA's 1-0 win over Guadeloupe in the Concacaf Gold Cup Tuesday night in Kansas City that sends the Americans into a quarterfinal against Jamaica Sunday at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. …
What a difference a goal makes. By scoring in the first minute of stoppage time to tie Canada, 1-1, Panama won the group and prevented a possible three-tie atop Group C among Panama, the United States, and Canada with six points each.
Had Canada hung on to win, 1-0, given the same USA result against Guadeloupe, the USA would have won the group with a plus-two goal differential (four scored, two allowed), followed by Panama in second at plus-one (five scored, four conceded), and Canada third at zero (two scored, two conceded).
As the only third-place team with six points, Canada would have advanced to play Mexico in the quarterfinals. Guatemala, third-place in Group B, would have played the USA, and Panama would have played Jamaica.
Instead, by conceding that last-minute goal, Canada finished with four points (1-1-1) and a minus-one goal difference (two scored, three allowed). That placed it behind Guatemala (plus-two) and El Salvador (zero) in goal difference among the third-place teams, and thus it was eliminated.
At the 2000 tournament, Canada was part of a three-team group in which all the games finished tied. Canada advanced by a coin flip at the expense of South Korea, and won all three knockout games to capture its only Gold Cup title.
“That’s why he’s here!” Announcer Jack Edwards famously crooned that sentence when Clint Mathis scored a spectacular goal against South Korea in the 2002 World Cup, and after drilling a laser into the top corner Tuesday night Livestrong Sporting Park, Jozy Altidore took that message first-person.
He shook his fist and pointed to his name on the back of his jersey in defiance of scathing criticism levied at him during the Gold Cup, and did a fair share of manhandling Guadeloupe’s defenders before being replaced in the 78th minute. He rarely scores goals from long distance and will never be accused of elegance, but on a frustrating 90 minutes during which nobody else could get the ball past keeper Franck Grandel, Altidore came through.
Also repaying Coach Bob Bradley’s faith in them were left back Eric Lichaj (after a nightmare first half against Spain, he defended stoutly and pushed forward a few times), Chris Wondolowski (his miss of a sitter against Panama forgiven, he hit two very hard shots on frame that Grandel saved), and Jermaine Jones (he tore off his jersey and stormed down the tunnel upon being substituted Saturday, yet bounced back with perhaps his best game for the USA).
Who was that wearing Clint Dempsey’s jersey? He squandered a few very good chances against Panama, yet at least Dempsey managed to test goalie Jamie Penedo twice. Not so Tuesday night; in the first half he completely missed the frame on a close-range header from a terrific cross by Steve Cherundolo, and among other misses he dawdled on an absolute sitter served up by Alejandro Bedoya and never even got a shot off.
His atrocious finishing nullified some outstanding play by Cherundolo, Bedoya and Jones to control the ball and open up Guadeloupe’s defense. He wasn't alone; Landon Donovan squandered a shot from six yards out by blasting it over the crossbar, much as Wondolowski had done against Panama.
End-of-season fatigue is a possible reason, and after one foul Dempsey rolled a few times and just lay on the ground to rest. Still, he kept churning away until the final whistle and got in some solid work. He just looked completely drained mentally and how well he can recover for the quarterfinal Sunday with Jamaica is a critical factor in the Americans’ chances to advance. A good game against a mediocre team got the USA past Guadeloupe, but its next Caribbean opponent is far more formidable.
June 14 in Kansas City, Kan.
USA 1 Guadeloupe 0. Goal: Altidore 9.
USA -- Howard, Cherundolo, Bocanegra, Goodson, Lichaj, Dempsey, Jones, Bradley (Edu, 85), Donovan, Wondolowski, Altidore (Kljestan, 78).
Guadeloupe -- Grandel, Comminges, Tacalfred, Zubar, Viator, Loval-Landre (Collet, 25), Nabab (Fautrai, 60), Racon (Gotin, 73), Auvray, Socrier, Jovial.