The US men’s soccer team has reclaimed the throne of premier soccer power in the Northwest part of the globe, riding an 11-game winning streak including a Gold Cup Championship. The US is currently the cream of the CONCACAF crop. This coincides with rough waters for the US’s largest rival Mexico, who had previously won the two most recent Confederation tournaments.
This year, Mexico failed to reach the finals, losing out to Panama. In World Cup Qualification, “el Tri” has looked shaky, while the US has already managed to secure its place in Brazil. Neither team fielded it’s “A” squad in the recent tournament; final rosters are nowhere close to being submitted for the World Cup, the US has been given a glimmer of hope moving forward.
Not only has manager Jurgen Klinnsman moved forward with his lineups and familiarity with the program, but he’s starting to establish something that has been an issue for the US for some time now: depth. Despite losing midfielder Stuart Holden to another devastating knee injury, the team has bolstered its side. Mix Diskerud has been officially cap-tied to the US. Ending speculation that he would join Norway and appears to be someone who can play the full 90 minutes, at the least he can come on as a substitute and still be impactful.
Landon Donovan has returned to the picture after his national team hiatus. While he looked spectacular in the Gold Cup, he still is on the outside looking in as far as the top team’s starting positions go. The back-line, which was a giant question mark, appears to have found answers. While these players are still developing and aren’t world class, they are quality and reliable players that can hold their own. On top of that, the US appears to be adding two top prospects who have dual nationality in Aron Johannsson (Iceland) and John Anthony Brooks (Germany).
Mexico, meanwhile; is in scramble mode, but has elected to retain Jose Manuel de la Torre, despite a strong contingent of fans calling for his job. There is less than a year’s time until the 2014 World Cup begins; it will be interesting to see how the US continues to build upon its recent success and how Mexico fares in turning things around. They are hoping to hit their stride at just the right time, when it matters most.