Gold Cup Goodness + How U.S. v. China Got Interesting

Unbelievably, the CONCACAF Gold Cup is just a week away, which could be why things like rosters of all the teams and scouting reports of Mexico (who look pretty scary...till you consider the Jedi mind-trick the Yanquis have working on 'em; whoops, and hat-tip to du Nord) are trickling out lately. I'm hoping there's plenty more to come. For instance, I read of a scouting report to come from Fox Soccer's site (which means I'll have to bookmark it...again) and I see they've got a pretty snazzy spread for the tournament already laid out (as well as more power-rankings for me to mine - yippee!).

But, as all y'all no doubt know, there's that game against China for an appetizer of sorts. About a week ago, I confessed to an utter lack of interest in this Saturday's game, but, with the appearance of some weird, new names on the game-day roster (Davies, Hill, and Nguyen; and hats off to the Sacramento Bee for paying attention to the California Victory), I'm suddenly thinking this could be worthwhile viewing; so, here's to Bob Bradley for making good use of a friendly.

In a related piece, Jeff Carlisle did some roster day-dreaming for ESPN. While that's worth reading for its own sake, he mentioned a couple angles that got wheels turning in my head. First, there's this bit about Dempsey:

"The absence of the team's MLS contingent means that the U.S. only has youngsters Charlie Davies and Kamani Hill, as well as veteran Ante Razov available, although the likes of Dempsey could slide up top."

Loathe as I am to play the "build-yer-own-line-up" parlor game, I have to say here, "yes, yes, YES!" I like a free-role for Deuce, which I think he'd get at forward; his defending's not so hot in any case. Just a thought...I'm not sure it will happen.

The big thing for me, though, is what Bradley does with the second 45 minutes - or however much time he opts to devote to experimentation. I'm all for giving the first-choice Gold Cup team - or as much of it as is feasible - time in a live-game situation to play together. But by the second half, I want to see some young guys getting a sniff - and the more the better. Put another way, I'm watching this to see Charlie Davies and Lee Nguyen, guys I've heard decent things about but have never seen. If not for yourself, do it for me, Bob. Thanks. I'll be watching now. last thing: I'm finally seeing the reason why China is playing half of MLS after the U.S. Men: they've got the Asian Cup looming - and a poor result to wipe out. That should help raise the level a bit. Good stuff.


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