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First look: U.S. vs. Canada


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Not my prediction and I hope they are wrong...just a look from their prospective....

First look: U.S. vs. Canada

By Luis Arroyave

Tribune staff reporter

June 17, 2007, 8:00 PM CDT

TV: 6 p.m. Thursday at Soldier Field; Fox Soccer Channel, WXFT-Ch. 60 (Spanish).

Key players:

United States: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley.

Canada: Julian de Guzman, Dwayne De Rosario.

Story line: The U.S. faces its toughest competition yet when it takes on a Canadian team that finished first in Group A and continued to impress with a 3-0 victory over Guatemala on Saturday. The U.S. looked vulnerable at times in its 2-1 win over Panama and was unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities. Still, Donovan should be able to have his way with Canada's defense and lead the U.S. to its second straight Gold Cup final.

Prediction: United States 2-1.

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quote:Originally posted by Gian-Luca

I recommend everyone watch the June 17th edition of Inside the Gold Cup:

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=concacaf

Lots of praise for Canada, lots of harsh criticism of Ruiz, chastising of Clint Dempsey & an analytical preview of Canada vs. US.

Nice find, G-L. Quite a credible analysis of the tournament so far,

with great praise for our midfield.

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Cinderella joins the big three

(FIFA.com) Monday 18 June 2007

http://www.fifa.com/confederationcup/news/newsid=536692.html#cinderella+joins+three

This weekend's Gold Cup quarter-final clashes set up some mouth-watering contests in the upcoming last four. The USA, who beat Panama 2-1 on Saturday, will take on neighbours to the north, Canada, 3-0 demolishers of Guatemala. On Sunday Mexico needed extra time to beat eight-man Costa Rica and set themselves a date with debutant minnows Guadeloupe, who kept up their fairytale form to shock Honduras 2-1.

Canucks set USA date

Saturday's first quarter-final saw 2000 Gold Cup champions Canada hit high gear in a 3-0 demolition of an out-of-sorts Guatemala in Boston. After pushing the Central Americans into a callow, defensive posture, Spurs wingback Paul Stalteri sent Ali Gerba in on goal in the 27th minute to open the scoring. Then, on 33 minutes, Julian De Guzman and Atiba Hutchinson combined to set up Gerba once again for his second on the day and his third goal of the competition. Deportivo la Coruna's star midfielder De Guzman added his third of the finals as well to round out the rout with a deflected, long range strike just moments before the interval.

The second half lacked a little in terms of excitement as the result was fairly well sorted after the first 45 minutes. "This was a game of two halves said Canadian coach Stephen Hart, who now sets his sights on a quarter-final contest with southern neighbours and hosts USA. "We played a very balanced game though."

The day's second contest saw favourites the United States edge out their own Central American opposition (Panama) in a rematch of the 2005 Gold Cup Final. Despite wasting chance after chance early on and, the Americans eventually took hold of the match to win 2-1 against ten men. The first goal came on the hour mark when Landon Donovan stroked home from the spot after being hauled down in the area. Fulham back Carlos Bocanegra then doubled the lead with a trademark towering header just two minutes later.

Panama were then down to ten men in minute 82 when Manuel Torres was sent off in the 76th minute of the edgy affair, but they still managed to make a fight of it with a late close-range goal from Blas Perez. "It's a good win for us," said US coach Bradley, who has not tasted defeat in eight games since taking over from Bruce Arena. "I am pleased with how we played against a good Panama team."

Mexico survive to book Guadeloupe dance

In a monumentally ill-tempered affair on Sunday, Mexico - still yet to hit their stride - were barely able beat out a Costa Rican outfit reduced to eight men after a series of unsavoury incidents.

If not for a customary header from hitman Jared Borgetti 12 minutes into the first period of extra-time, the four-time Gold Cup champion Mexicans would have had some explaining to do to their fans up against a side that had Allan Aleman sent off in the 42nd minute, Alvaro Saborio in the 108th and Mario Camacho in the 125th for a crude challenge on Cuauhtémoc Blanco. But after latching onto a smooth cross from Carlos Salcido, Mexico's all-time to scorer nodded home to force a roar of relief from the predominantly pro-Mexico crowd in Houston, Texas.

Mexico will now meet up with tiny Caribbean side Guadeloupe, who swooped to shock heavy favourites Honduras in the last quarter-final on Sunday. Put under heavy pressure early on, the islanders - who are an 'overseas department' of France - roared up the field to score with their first attack in minute 16. An inch-perfect cross from the right by Utrecht's impressive Loic Loval was nodded across the face of goal by Brest's Richard Edward Socrier and hammered home by 41-year-old former France star and current amateur Jocelyn Angloma. Just five minutes later, they had doubled their lead as Socrier nodded home at the back post off another bit of good service from Loval.

The Hondurans - who manhandled Cuba 5-0 and beat Mexico in the group stages - looked the better team in the second half. Captain Carlos Pavon pulled one back in the 70th minute, but the Central Americans could not find the equaliser as the Guadeloupe players celebrated a place in the semis in only their first Gold Cup appearance.

The 2007 Gold Cup semi-finals will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago on Thursday with the USA taking on Canada in the early game and Mexico meeting minnows Guadeloupe in the late contest.

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Just a thought but if things play out like I hope they will, for Canada to win this federation championship we'll have had to beat Costa Rica, The USA, and Mexico.

Hard to argue you're an unworthy champion after results like that. And a damn nice set of scalps for the lodge pole.

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quote:Originally posted by Gian-Luca

I recommend everyone watch the June 17th edition of Inside the Gold Cup:

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=concacaf

Lots of praise for Canada, lots of harsh criticism of Ruiz, chastising of Clint Dempsey & an analytical preview of Canada vs. US.

Enjoyed that edition of "Inside the Gold Cup". Is Canada turning the corner around. Lets see them do good at this tournament and as well as 2010 wcq that starts next year.

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Guest Jeffery S.

Recommend the June 18 edition as well.

In it they show that Canada is the team with the least cards in the tournament (6 yellows), Mexico's rivals have gotten the most yellows and reds. Lots of cards that they criticize in the show, esp. Mexico-CR.

And important: Canada has officially protested /appealled the Stalteri yellow in the last game, as it is clearly given to the wrong player. Hopefully it should hold up, not sure who would get it then, Bernier? In any case, always good to not have any defender inhibited by cards, if he has to take one late he knows he won't risk an appearance in the final for it if the appeal is accepted.

Great credit to the defence then, doing well and without drawing cards. I am sure they will rise to the occasion once again vs. the US and Hainault will not have any of "those" blunders.

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quote:Originally posted by Jeffrey S.

Recommend the June 18 edition as well.

In it they show that Canada is the team with the least cards in the tournament (6 yellows), Mexico's rivals have gotten the most yellows and reds. Lots of cards that they criticize in the show, esp. Mexico-CR.

And important: Canada has officially protested /appealled the Stalteri yellow in the last game, as it is clearly given to the wrong player. Hopefully it should hold up, not sure who would get it then, Bernier? In any case, always good to not have any defender inhibited by cards, if he has to take one late he knows he won't risk an appearance in the final for it if the appeal is accepted.

It would be Bernier, though personally I think nobody should get it as it was clearly a Ruiz dive - as John Harkes says it looks like he stepped on a land mine the way he reacted.

I don't see how the appeal can't be successful & I am glad they are doing so. The Sportnet replays don't show it well but the version of the match available on youtube does, it is clearly the wrong player fingered.

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ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS WHERE GOING TO BEAT THE YANKS AND GO ON AND WIN THE TOURNAMENT! JUST LIKE THE 2000 GOLD CUP, WE WENT IN FULL OF ??????? AND IN THE END WE CAME OUT ON TOP. THIS IS THE SAME STORY THIS TIME AROUND, AND WHY AM I READING ANOTHER THREAD ABOUT WHY THE CSA DOESN'T WANT TO BRING IN A FORIGNER? FORGET THAT BECAUSE WE HAVE DALE MITCHELL! THIS IS A GUY WHO WHIPPED UP A GROUP OF GUYS WITH NOT A LOT OF TIME TO PREPARE AND LOOK WHERE WE ARE, IN A BETTER SITUATION THAN THE 2000 GOLD UP, WE WON THIS GROUP AND WON 3-0 IN THE QUARTERS! THAT HASN'T BEEN THE CASE FOR CANADA IN RECENT YEARS, WITH THE RESULTS AND PERFORMANCES WE HAVE PUT UP WE ARE COMPARABLE TO THE US AND MEXICO. FOR THE FIRST TIME WE ARE DOMINATING OPPONENTS!

NO NEED FOR ANOTHER COACH, MITCHELL IS THE MAN!

GOOO CANADA GOOOO

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quote:Originally posted by Jeffrey S.

Canada has officially protested /appealled the Stalteri yellow in the last game.

That is important. I am glad that the coaching staff has asserted itself. That sends a strong message, if nothing else, to the officials who may be doing future matches at this tourney.

If the committee sees the tape they will learn that not only did the ref penalize the wrong guy, he was cheated by Ruiz who should have gotten his second yellow in that game.

Stalteri's card should be wiped. No other Canadian should get carded in his place for that incident. Ruize should be slapped on the wrist, at least. (I know, probably wouldn't change his antics, but still ... )

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Bocanegra seeks glory for U.S. in Gold Cup semifinals

June 20, 2007

By Ian Parker Special to PA SportsTicker

Carlos Bocanegra will be back on familiar turf when the United States faces Canada at Soldier Field in the semifinal of the Gold Cup on Thursday.

Bocanegra called Chicago home for four years as he made his name in soccer with the Fire in Major League Soccer, ultimately earning a move to the English Premier League with Fulham in 2004.

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Now he is back in the Windy City to represent his country.

With a place in the final against either arch-rival Mexico or Guadeloupe on the line, Bocanegra is trying to concentrate on the game, but let loose on his old stomping ground once again, he's having a hard time.

The first thing he did when he got back to the Chicago was not soccer related.

"We went to Lalo's for some Mexican food," Bocanegra told ussoccer.com. "It's one of my favorite places to go. Got some carne asada, enchilasas, ceviche, chips and guacamole...everything.

"You can't really get good Mexican food in England. It's a great city, and I'm super excited to be back."

But Bocanegra will have to concentrate at the task in hand, particularly now he has added responsibilities.

U.S. coach Bob Bradley, who was in charge of the Fire during Bocanegra's time with the club, has handed the defender the captain's armband in a number of recent games.

After several players retired following the World Cup, the 28-year-old Bocanegra is one of the most experienced players on the team.

"Some of us who were younger during the Word Cup are now the veterans," Bocanegra said. "For me, it's an honor to lead your country. It's a tough feeling to put into words."

He admitted it has taken something of an adjustment to be the leader on the team. One of the proudest moments for any captain is leading his country onto the field, but Bocanegra has been too worried to really enjoy it.

"It's kind of weird," he said. "You walk out and look over your shoulder to make sure everyone is following you."

The U.S. head into Thursday's game looking for a better performance after scraping by Panama 2-1 in Saturday's quarterfinal.

After the game, Bradley focused on the result, but he will know his team must play better if they are to be sure of reaching the final.

Canada swept aside Guatemala 3-0 to book their place in the semifinal, but as impressive as that performance was, they shouldn't be a match for the United States as they were in the group stages of this competition.

The U.S were the only team to emerge unbeaten from the group stages of this competition, scoring seven goals without conceding.

After that, the performance against Panama was a disappointment, even if it did get the job done.

Bocanegra knows that, and no matter how much fun he is having, he is ready to get back to business.

"The most important thing is to win the Gold Cup," Bocanegra said. "It would be pretty sweet to win it back in Chicago at Soldier Field."

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quote:

Canada swept aside Guatemala 3-0 to book their place in the semifinal, but as impressive as that performance was, they shouldn't be a match for the United States as they were in the group stages of this competition.

Talk about poor writing......what on earth is the author trying to say in the second half of the sentence[?]

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Border To Border

U.S. team looking to close out games better

Jeff Carlisle, ESPNsoccernet

Archive

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=440143&root=us&cc=5901

There are several images that sum up the United States' march through the Gold Cup. Most seem to project an American squad that has played solidly throughout most of the tournament. But some display the lack of ruthlessness shown by the U.S. side, with Clint Dempsey's blown opportunity late against Panama a prime example.

The latter trait has allowed the Americans' opponents to hang around in games that should have been blowouts, and with the U.S. set to face an in-form Canada team in Thursday's semifinal, it's imperative the U.S. team finds that cold-blooded streak, lest it falls short in its quest to win its fourth CONCACAF title.

Dwayne De Rosario is the key to a dangerous Canadian offense.

This inconsistency is something the American players are well aware of. U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra described his team's play in the tournament as "up and down," and admitted that U.S. head coach Bob Bradley has already warned his side that the generosity shown in the quarterfinals can't continue.

"We've addressed it as a team," Bocanegra said. "We realize that we didn't finish Panama off. But we're in a transition period and we still have some fairly young guys. Hopefully we'll sort that out and take advantage of our opportunities when we get them."

Canada is a team capable of taking advantage of any gifts the Americans might offer. And unlike Panama, which was hobbled by suspensions to three players, Canada has all of its weapons available. In particular, the midfield trio of Dwayne De Rosario, Atiba Hutchinson and Julian De Guzman look especially potent.

Each player has filled his role to perfection. Hutchinson's two-way game has seen him contribute much to the Maple Leafs' attack, while also protecting Canada's back line. De Rosario has taken his live wire game that is an MLS staple and moved it out wide, where his unpredictability has caused opponents problems.

"We know [De Rosario] can create stuff sometimes out of nothing," Bocanegra said. "He's a good dribbler, and he scores goals, so he's going to be someone we're looking out for."

Perhaps a bigger key for the U.S. is stopping De Guzman. Early in Canada's quarterfinal triumph, the Maple Leafs were struggling to play through Guatemala's packed midfield, so De Guzman began to drop deeper to get the ball. Initially, it appeared as if this would play into Guatemala's hands, because it took the Canadian midfielder further away from goal. But in this case, De Guzman's skill on the ball allowed Canada to keep possession better and build its attack. Once it got into the attacking third, the goals came quickly, with its second tally -- a clinical series of passes that was finished off by striker Ali Gerba -- a thing of beauty.

For this reason, it will be imperative that the U.S. midfield -- led by resident destroyer Pablo Mastroeni -- puts its defensive stamp on the game and negates the influence of Canada's attacking trio. That will require keeping an eye on the mobile De Guzman, and making sure the U.S. has sufficient numbers in midfield to maintain pressure on the ball.

Stopping De Rosario will be a different dilemma for Bradley. In Frankie Hejduk, Jonathan Spector and Frank Simek, Bradley has a stable of right backs who each offer something different. But the suspicion is that Bradley will continue to favor Hejduk's mobility over that of Spector and Simek. Hejduk also has the advantage of having seen De Rosario up close during his time in MLS, and that might also tip the scales in his favor.

Of course, the best way for the Americans to stifle Canada's midfield is to keep possession themselves, and utilize the speed advantage against a Canadian defense that, while quietly effective against Guatemala, lacks the pace needed to contend with the likes of Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley.

Donovan was involved in many of the Americans' best attacking moves against Panama and his ability to tuck into the middle allowed him to run at the Canaleros' slower central defenders.

The U.S. would settle for a repeat of that in the semifinal, but could also stand to have a little bit more balance in its attack, and that means finding a way to get Beasley more involved. Beasley did have his moments against Panama, and it was his defense-splitting pass that launched Donovan on a solo breakaway in the first half. But the American midfielder also went long stretches without seeing the ball, and this will need to change Thursday. Not only has Beasley been in good form, but any forays on his part will serve to occupy Canadian right back Paul Stalteri, who loves to get into the attack.

But no offense in the world can compensate for a lack of sharpness in front of goal, and that is where the biggest room for improvement lies. Granted, if the history of soccer has proven anything, it's that finishing is the sport's equivalent of the Philosopher's Stone: chemical, and maddeningly elusive.

Whether that can be fixed by inserting Brian Ching into the lineup is an open question. The Houston forward has a long history of playing well with Donovan, while Taylor Twellman has a similar past with Dempsey. Both Ching and Twellman have converted a low percentage of their chances, but given Dempsey's closer proximity to goal, that would leave Twellman in the lineup. There is also the possibility that neither player will see time, meaning Benny Feilhaber could regain his spot in the middle, the better to cope with the Canadian attackers, and also put pressure on holding midfielder Martin Nash (the younger brother of NBA star Steve Nash), who is clearly the weakest link.

Mexico vs. Guadeloupe

As for the other semifinal, the glass slipper appears primed to fall off the collective foot of Guadeloupe for its match with Mexico, but the exact same thing was said prior to the quarterfinal showdown with Honduras, when the Gold Cup debutante shocked the Catrachos 2-1.

The French department's ranks will be bolstered by midfielder Aurelian Capoue, who returns from suspension. Given that Guadeloupe can only count so much on 41-year-old Jocelyn Angloma for its goals, Capoue's return is a welcome development.

Mexico, which has taken the Americans' penchant for inconsistency to even more extreme levels, has seen its attack look worse as the tournament has progressed. In the quarterfinal against Costa Rica, it wasn't until the late introduction of Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Bofo Bautista that some creativity crept into El Tri's attack.

However, the return from suspension of Nery Castillo, Pavel Pardo, and Kikin Fonseca should help in this regard, although even when these players were available, Mexico still struggled. Yet Mexico now stands on the cusp of reaching the final that everyone predicted.

If both the U.S. and Mexico progress as expected, perhaps seeing their bitter rivals on the opposite side of the field will finally bring out the ruthless streak in both.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPNsoccernet. He can be reached at eljefe1@yahoo.com.

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quote:

Canada is a team capable of taking advantage of any gifts the Americans might offer. And unlike Panama, which was hobbled by suspensions to three players, Canada has all of its weapons available. In particular, the midfield trio of Dwayne De Rosario, Atiba Hutchinson and Julian De Guzman look especially potent.

I guess this journalist doesn't consider Rob Friend to be a weapon. Or, could it be (gasp) more poor research?

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quote:

Canada is a team capable of taking advantage of any gifts the Americans might offer. And unlike Panama, which was hobbled by suspensions to three players, Canada has all of its weapons available. In particular, the midfield trio of Dwayne De Rosario, Atiba Hutchinson and Julian De Guzman look especially potent.

I guess this journalist doesn't consider Rob Friend to be a weapon. Or, could it be (gasp) more poor research?

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Guest Jeffery S.

Carlisle's analysis of Canada above is one of the best we have seen. How to stop our midfield, good question.

Since there is this idea they are going to key on De Guzman, maybe that means we should move things around a bit to throw them off. Which is why I like Julian on the right midfield in a 4-4-2, De Ro on the other side. Gerba and Hume up front. With two up already, you don't force the outside mids to always go forwards, but do try to get a few crosses out of them. And use Hume to link between mids and Gerba, which is a good way to keep their defensive midfield on its toes, as it is pretty well obliged to follow a striker and not the mids they say they are worried about.

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Canada faces U.S. in semis

By LORI EWING

(CP) - Canadian defender Ante Jazic has been fielding trash-talking text messages the past couple of days from American star Landon Donovan.

The two are teammates on Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy and good friends off the pitch. But Thursday night, they'll go head to head at Soldier Field in Chicago when Canada faces the U.S. in the semifinals of the Gold Cup.

"We've been texting back and forth talking a little smack," Jazic said laughing. "He says he's going to score two goals, and so on and so forth. That I'm going to see No. 10 running by all game.

"I said he probably will score two goals but he'll be on the losing end. . . 3-2."

The Halifax native plays left fullback for Canada, while Donovan, an explosive attacker who is arguably the Americans' best player, is playing right midfield in the Gold Cup tournament. Their paths are guaranteed to cross.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge, he's a good player," Jazic said. "Obviously one player can't shut down Landon Donovan, it's going to have to be a team effort. But I think we have a great chance tomorrow, especially if we neutralize Landon."

Thursday's winner advances to Sunday's CONCACAF Gold Cup final at Soldier Field. Mexico faces Guadeloupe in the other semifinal.

The Canadians, 56th in the most recent FIFA rankings, went 2-1 through group play, then dispatched Guatemala 3-0 in Saturday's quarter-finals on a pair of goals from Ali Gerba.

The No. 16 Americans cruised undefeated through the preliminary round, then beat Panama 2-1 to advance to their final four matchup against Canada.

"Obviously they're the favourites going in, which bodes well for us," Jazic said. "We can go out and play without any pressure, the pressure's squarely on them. They have to beat Canada. If we lose, we're expected to lose; if we win, then that's a major upset."

Canada and the U.S. have faced each other twice before in Gold Cup competition, including a penalty shootout loss to the U.S. in the 2002 semifinals. Canada won the Gold Cup in 2000.

The U.S. has three Gold Cup titles. The last friendly between the two squads was a scoreless draw on Jan. 17, 2006, in San Diego.

"We're eager to play against them," said Canadian acting coach Stephen Hart. "We know it will be difficult and we anticipate that. They're playing at home, apparently Soldier Field is sold out for the game."

Hart put his players through an hour-long practice Wednesday at Soldier Field before settling in at the team hotel for the afternoon to watch tape of the U.S. team with his players.

The Americans play a fast-paced physical game, and are dangerous on the counter-attack.

But Hart has confidence in Canada's backline, a group that didn't have a lot of experience playing together but has gelled as the tournament has progressed.

Jazic, 31, has been solid in his first Gold Cup appearance. The five-foot-11 defender, who played professionally in Croatia, Austria and Russia before landing in L.A. this season, missed out on the last Gold Cup tournament because of a groin injury.

This year's Gold Cup has been his most significant role with Canada's senior side.

"Most definitely, especially the fact we're in the semifinals of a CONCACAF and FIFA competition," said Jazic.

Up front, Hart will depend on Gerba, a Montreal native who plays for FC Goteborg in Sweden, Houston Dynamo attacking midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, and Toronto native Julian DeGuzman, who plays for Deportivo La Coruna of the Spanish league. The trio has looked strong throughout the tournament.

"We've scored eight goals in four games, and we've scored in each game, which is sort of different for a Canadian team," said Hart. "So we're pleased with both ends of the field."

Hart said he'll likely go with veteran Pat Onstad in net Thursday. The Houston Dynamo 'keeper was called in as an emergency replacement after Greg Sutton suffered a concussion in practice. Onstad has gone undefeated in his three Gold Cup starts since.

Sutton practised for 90 minutes Tuesday, but was still feeling the effects of the concussion later that night, making the 39-year-old Onstad the obvious choice.

"(Onstad) has been great to have around and he looks really happy to be here," said Hart. "We called him, his answer was immediate, he wanted to come in, and that's always a great sign."

NOTES: Mexico, which has won the Gold Cup four times, is the only other champion since the tournament began in 1991.

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Gold Cup another opportunity for U.S. to figure team out

By NANCY ARMOUR, AP National Writer

June 20, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) -- For a decade, the core U.S. team didn't have to worry about that awkward, uncomfortable getting-to-know-you stage.

Let other countries figure out who was doing what and where. With ageless veterans like Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and Eddie Pope, and Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley around since grade school it seemed, the national team was an almost seamless fit.

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Everybody knew their roles and what they had to do. More importantly, they knew what everybody else could do, too.

Those days are now over. While much of the roster from last summer's World Cup squad is still intact -- Donovan and Beasley have been elevated to "old man" status -- Reyna, McBride and Pope have moved on, and there's a new group of players trying to work their way onto the squad.

"Talentwise, it's as good as it's ever been," Donovan said Wednesday. "What we're still trying to get at is having enough guys on the field that know what's going on and knowing how we want to play and getting that consistently."

Which is what makes games like Thursday night's CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal against Canada so important.

In this part of the world, at least, the Americans have more depth than anyone else, more skilled players, more speed. They're heavy favorites to win the entire tournament, and not just because they're hosting the party. They've won the Gold Cup three times, and this is their eighth trip to the semifinals in nine tournaments.

What they don't have is that wealth of experience in big-time games. The only way to get that is by playing.

"The competition right now to get on the field is strong," coach Bob Bradley said. "The mentality of this group I think continues to improve every day. We realize these are important steps to new heights. You have to have goals. You have to have an understanding of what it takes to win. Those are things we are trying to experience at this time."

The United States and Mexico have been the heavyweights in CONCACAF for years, and most expect they'll meet again in Sunday's final of the tournament, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. But Canada is slowly improving and, unlike its Gold Cup victory in 2000, its run to the semifinals is no surprise.

Twelve of the Maple Leafs' players are based in Europe, including midfielders Julian DeGuzman, who plays for Spain's Deportivo de La Coruna, and Paul Stalteri, of England's Tottenham Hotspur. Eight others play in Major League Soccer, including Dwayne DeRosario, who was the MVP of last summer's All-Star Game.

"I think we're going to win. I'm confident in that," said DeRosario, who has three goals in the tournament. "We can't look past the States, and the States definitely shouldn't look past us."

Much has been made of Canada's midfield with DeGuzman, Atiba Hutchinson and Martin Nash. DeGuzman has scored twice and assisted on two more goals.

"The understanding between Hutchinson and DeGuzman and Nash is very good," Bradley said. "We know they do a good job of drifting and finding different spaces. We've got to find a way to make it harder for them.

"We feel we've been able to pressure teams aggressively in the midfield and play the game on our terms," Bradley added. "In that part of the field, we still feel we've got the ability to be aggressive and control the game."

The United States is the only team that's unbeaten so far, and it didn't give up a goal during group stage. But the Americans have also looked sloppy and disorganized at times.

In the quarterfinal victory over Panama, the Americans gave up a goal -- their first of the tournament -- in the 84th minute. They also missed opportunities offensively, with Taylor Twellman failing on three alone.

"Canada feels like they can win the game and they feel like they're confident and good in this moment. And should because they're playing well," Donovan said. "But we think and believe that if we play well, we are the better team."

Notes

The U.S. teams is at .500 for the first time since 1937 (189-189-111). On Aug. 16, 1995, the Americans hit a low at 88-143-70. ... Beasley, GK Tim Howard, D Oguchi Onyewu and D Frankie Hejduk carry yellow cards into the game and would be suspended for the final if they get another Thursday. ... Canada GK Greg Sutton is still feeling symptoms of a concussion and likely won't play Thursday.

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