COMMENTARY | The script for the 2013 Gold Cup had been written even before the tournament kicked off earlier this month.
Mexico entered July in turmoil and with its 2014 summer plans far from secured, while the United States Men's National Team was in the middle of what ultimately was its best run in its 100-year history. A sweep of three World Cup Qualifiers was followed by a perfect Gold Cup run, leaving Jurgen Klinsmann as a US Soccer icon and his team as the region's best heading into the final stretch of matches that will determine which countries get to head to Brazil one year down the road.
2013 Gold Cup wrap-up: MVP
As if there could possibly be any doubt about who deserves this award. I stated back at the beginning of the Gold Cup that stats that are accumulated against second and even third-rate opposition mean little, and I still believe that to be true regardless of the number of goals that were created by Landon Donovan over the past several weeks. Donovan was more than just the main man in the United States finding the back of the net in each of their Gold Cup contests. He was the cornerstone and engine of the US attack, the best player on the pitch in every game in which he played.
No American footballer in history has been as polarizing a figure among supporters than has Donovan. One thing everybody should be able to agree on, something that was again proven to be accurate this month, is that Donovan is his country's most important player when he is in-form physically and mentally. The Donovan that featured in the Gold Cup will be vital in the upcoming Qualifiers that should, in theory, end with the US winning their group; that is, of course, assuming that Donovan shows up.
2013 Gold Cup wrap-up: Unlucky
In an alternate universe, a 6-foot-3 version of Nick Rimando is his nation's number one goalkeeper and a star in the world's most watched professional league. While guys like Donovan and Brek Shea took headlines, Rimando, who wasn't overly busy during the tournament, quietly made every stop he had to make. He was also a solid distributor of the ball, something that was missed during in-game commentaries and not pointed out in match reports.
The Real Salt Lake 'keeper who is always reliable when wearing a US shirt is possibly our country's least-appreciated footballer. If he was just five years younger and a few inches taller, Rimando would unquestionably be in the running to overtake Tim Howard as the senior squad's starter. It's just not meant to be for the 34-year old, and it sure looks like this Gold Cup will be his last moment of glory while on national team duty.
2013 Gold Cup wrap-up: What did we learn?
Nothing much, to be perfectly honest.
Neither Eddie Johnson nor Chris Wondolowski is taking a second of playing time away from Jozy Altidore. The previously mentioned Rimando remains, at best, number three in the depth chart. Donovan returning to the senior squad was inevitable. Not a whole lot has changed.
Everybody penciling in their 2014 World Cup lineups following the Gold Cup Final would do well to remember that a lot can and will happen between July 2013 and next summer. Qualifiers will be played, European seasons will occur, and Major League Soccer will go through the playoffs and then half of another season. A trophy and medals are nice and all, but they mean very little when it comes to the world's most important international competition.
Winning their World Cup Qualifying group would mean more for US Soccer than does a Gold Cup victory.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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- Landon Donovan
- Nick Rimando