What We Learned.....
After a month of invaluable international competition in a usually quiet post-World Cup year, after a championship victory over a bitter rival and a disappointing performance in Latin America, after a sensational goal to win the Gold Cup and a couple of soft ones allowed in Venezuela, and after looking at 36 players against varying levels of opposition, we learned that:
*Tim Howard is the clear-cut No. 1 goalkeeper, Kasey Keller is fading into the sunset after a marvelous career and Brad Guzman has a promising future as a reserve.
*Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jimmy Conrad and Jay DeMerit provide options in central defense, but questions remain about the outside positions.
*Benny Feilhaber is a starter for years to come, Ricardo Clark reads the game and performs, Pablo Mastroeni needs to offer more than his hard-man act and, with more European seasoning, Michael Bradley will probably be in the long-term mix as well.
*DaMarcus Beasley still brings some electricity to the attack and Clint Dempsey has the tools and mentality to become a big-time player.
*Herculez Gomez, Kyle Beckerman, Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor are nice MLS players, but.....
*Ben Olsen has a little something left in the engine, Justin Mapp might emerge on the flank and Eddie Gaven does not belong.
*Eddie Johnson will remain in the mix because he's young and athletic, but Taylor Twellman is running out of time.
*Lee Nguyen and Charlie Davies showed enough speed and footwork to earn additional call-ups.
*Brian Ching is a solid target man and Landon Donovan remains the most dangerous U.S. player with the ball at his feet.
*Bob Bradley sees the big picture (developing players for the next World Cup qualifying cycle), but probably should have offered a more formidable Copa roster. Staying even with Argentina for much of the match, creating an abundance of opportunities vs. Paraguay and putting up a fight against Colombia is fine, but a result would have helped the overall cause. With that roster, however, it was an uphill climb from the beginning.
Next Up: Sweden in August, probably Mexico in September, Catalonia and Switzerland in October.
It's just the beginning, folks.....
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