June 25, 2011

Gold Cup Final: USA vs. México

My predictions on the 2011 Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico.

1. México will come out looking to score early against team USA. Defending early on has been the American's Achilles heal, so the probable combination of Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra will need to communicate and track back when on the backheal in order to keep Tim Howard's net safe. They can expect a lot of pressure outside of the box; a single penetrating run onto a through ball is all it will take for El Tri to get on the score sheet.

2. México will draw a penalty, while the USA will not in a similar situation.

3. Chicharito and Clint Dempsey will both score. Both players are at their best on the attack, as they have been throughout not only this tournament but the past Premiership season as well. Both players are also passionate competitors, both possessing the strong desire and will to win. Chicharito is still on his way up the projected super-star ladder, while Dempsey is at the peak of his career. Expect them each to have a huge impact in their respective teams' performances.

4. Landon Donovan will start. Left on the bench the last two games after returning from his sister's wedding on the day of the game against Jamaica, Donovan will be looking to start against the arch-rivals. His performance against Panama in the semi-finals, coming from off the bench to deliver a ball into Clint Dempsey's feet for the game winning goal, will certainly help coach Bob Bradley in his decision. Look for him on the wing in midfield.

5. The winning side will need to utilize an unsung hero to prevail. In the case of the US, this could come in the form of Freddy Adu, Jermaine Jones, Steve Cherundolo, even Eric Lichaj. Whether in the form of a cutting pass, a perfect cross, or a decisive goal, these players have stood out in this tournament amongst stars like Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Tim Howard. This is the perfect opportunity for each of them to truly cement their reputation in the US line-up with a good performance.

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