Sports Gold Cup success proves USMNT is deeper than ever as World Cup qualifiers loom
Pitfalls ahead? Young USMNT's labored win over Canada raises questions despite Gold Cup group triumph
It wasn't pretty, but Gregg Berhalter's men made their first-minute goal hold up to earn all three pointsThere was one significant burst of energy from the USMNT on Sunday, one game-changing sequence. It came only 20 seconds into the contest, as Shaq Moore became the fastest goalscorer in the side's history when he tapped in a low cross to the back post.
As he spoke after the U.S. men's national team's Gold Cup triumph over Mexico, Gregg Berhalter had to catch himself.
Just moments earlier, his young U.S. side stunned a team loaded with El Tri regulars in the Gold Cup finale. An unheralded U.S. - dubbed a B or C team at best - had somehow stood toe-to-toe with Mexico and won.
It was something few could believe. How could the youngest Gold Cup finalist in the program's history beat Mexico, the traditional kings of this tournament? How could a group of youngsters and expected backups beat a Mexico team that had so many of its top stars?
Few could believe it. But Berhalter did the whole way.
USA TODAY Sports picks every medal for every Olympic event
Simone Biles will lead the way for the Americans with five golds in our projection, which has Team USA winning 133 medals, its most since 1984.That total estimate would be the greatest number of medals earned by the U.S. since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when the host nation raked in 174. Fifty-nine gold medals would be the U.S.’s best since earning 83 in Los Angeles. The U.S. ranked No. 1 in total medals and gold medals for the past two consecutive Summer Olympics in Rio (121 total, 46 gold) and London (104 total, 46 gold).
"Mexico is still, I think, the best team in the tournament or one of the best teams in the tournament," Berhalter said at his postgame press conference before pausing to collect his thoughts. "Next to us, obviously."
This summer will go down as a massive statement for Berhalter's USMNT, which beat its rivals twice to prove that it is once again at the top of CONCACAF. Long gone are the painful memories of Trinidad & Tobago; it's a new dawn for the USMNT.
And that's not just because of the talent at the top of the roster, because we all knew about that. Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Sergino Dest, Gio Reyna and several other top American stars are playing at a higher level than any that preceded them.
What we didn't know was just how deep this team was when you expand the pool even further.
Canada Olympics schedule today: Day-by-day TV coverage to watch Team Canada at 2021 Tokyo Games
Sporting News has you covered on how to watch every Team Canada competition, including start times and TV channels for every sport, every day of the Tokyo Olympics.Canada is filled with gold-medal dreams as 370 athletes — including heavy favourites such as swimmer Penny Oleksiak and sprinter Andre De Grasse — take the field, pool, court or floor across Tokyo and Japan. While there are a number of first-timers, there's also a handful of athletes who are competing in a sport that's making its debut in 2021, such as sports climbing and skateboarding.
Calling in a squad that featured just three players from June's Nations League win over Mexico, Berhalter took this Gold Cup as a chance to take a deep dive. This summer was a chance to look at guys that normally wouldn't get the chance, to expand the pool in the months just before things get real in World Cup qualifying.
And he did so with different types of players. Berhalter didn't just bring in a group of veterans in an effort to win. He also didn't bring in a young team in need of experience. He mixed the two, selecting a roster of up-and-comers and hungry veterans desperate to prove that they deserve one chance.
He expanded that pool to bring in young stars like Miles Robinson, Daryl Dike, James Sands, Gianluca Busio, Eryk Williamson, Sam Vines and George Bello, all of whom can now be trusted to play at any point in World Cup qualifiers.
USMNT deserving Gold Cup semifinalists after Jamaica win: Player ratings & takeaways
The USMNT continues to get key performances from unlikely players at the 2021 Gold Cup. Now it finds itself in the semifinals after a 1-0 win over Jamaica on a late Matthew Hoppe goal. Qatar is up next.With the game looking destined for extra time, Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake whiffed on a cross in the box and the ball met the head of Matthew Hoppe for the 83rd-minute game-winner. In addition to the error, Jamaica's struggles to finish continued against the USA: They created two clear-cut scoring chances that they should have done better to convert and thus let the USA off easy.
Berhalter added a few veterans to the mix too, like Kellyn Acosta, who now looks like a legitimate answer in the midfield. Gyasi Zardes is as reliable as ever, as was Walker Zimmerman before his injury. Matt Turner, probably the USMNT's player of the tournament, may just push Zack Steffen for that No.1 goalkeeper spot by the time the big games role around.
By lifting the trophy on Sunday, the USMNT's players didn't just prove they're capable of winning the Gold Cup. They also proved that they're trustworthy, that they can handle anything that may be thrown at them if they are needed on the road to Qatar 2022.
"I think I've been consistent in saying that we want to win the Gold Cup and, from day one that we came in camp, that was our objective," Berhalter said reflecting on this group. "That was the team's goal. We thought we had enough quality in the squad to get it done.
"It sometimes looks a little different and sometimes the shape changes and the personnel change but we have guys that are committed to winning and take great pride in it. When they step on the field to represent the country, I think, in terms of looking at it differently, I just think this was a great opportunity to evaluate guys in competitive games."
Olympics Latest: Chinese divers 1-2 in springboard prelims
TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on the Tokyo Olympics, which are taking place under heavy restrictions after a year’s delay because of the coronavirus pandemic: ___ China’s Shi Tingmao and Wang Han have finished 1-2 in the preliminaries of Olympic women’s 3-meter springboard diving. Shi totalled 350.45 points for her five dives, followed closely by Wang at 347.25. The two already teamed up to win the 3-meter synchro event. Shi is going for her second straight individual gold on the springboard and looking to extend China’s dominance in the women’s event.
There are lots of competitive games and, if you look at the schedule, you can see why the U.S. will need everybody.
Over the next eight months, the U.S. will play 14 World Cup qualifiers. Some will be played in sets of three in a grueling sprint towards Qatar next winter.
Throughout that spring, the player pool will be tested. Players will miss time due to injury, of course. Others will miss out due to fatigue. Some games will require certain players and a certain system, while others will ask entirely different things of this USMNT.
But this summer proved that the U.S. has everything it will need. It has the players it needs to survive that sprint and the flexibility required to survive it in different ways. Whether they win pretty or win ugly, they have proven that they can win.
"Qualifying is everything right now," Berhalter said, already focusing on September. "That's we're focused on that right now actually. That's our focus. This tournament is in the past and now we shift towards qualifying.
"We know it's going to be grueling, but we think the player pool has matured and it's been battle-tested. Now, we move on."
Mendy admits to Chelsea transfer fear ahead of £22m move to Stamford Bridge .
The highly-rated Senegal international goalkeeper joined the Blues in the summer of 2020 and is now a Champions League winnerWith Kepa Arrizabalaga failing to convince at Stamford Bridge, Premier League heavyweights found themselves in the market for another No.1 during the summer window of 2020.