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Three American players named to CONCACAF Gold Cup Best XI

Some may find one player a bit unexpected.

Soccer: CONCACAF Gold Cup-Jamaica at USA Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Following a second place finish, the United States men’s national team landed three players on the Best XI team for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Aaron Long, Michael Bradley, and Christian Pulisic earned a spot on the list of the tournament’s top performers.

Champions Mexico had seven players named to the team, with Canada’s Jonathan David (the Golden Boot winner) being the only player to appear who wasn’t in the final. Despite reaching the semifinals, Jamaica and Haiti did not have a single player awarded.

Christian Pulisic had a strong tournament and provided his regular electricity on the attack. The recent Chelsea addition scored three goals en route to winning the tournament’s Best Young Player Award. He will undoubtedly claim many more individual honors over the next decade as the national team builds around him.

Aaron Long made the strongest case for himself out of all the American players, putting in consistent performances at center back. The defense surrendered a mere two goals, and he also added an impressive brace against Trinidad and Tobago in group play. Although the 26-year-old Long recently signed a new contract with the New York Red Bulls, it’s likely that he will draw attention from overseas clubs, while being an important part of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Arguably, the most surprising inclusion in the team is Michael Bradley, who at times looked out of sorts and struggled with turnovers in the midfield. However, he was a key figure on several goals, playing passes that jump-started the attack and cut through compressed defensive lines. While some may have selected Weston McKennie or a player from another team to the tournament’s Best XI, it has been noted that it was Bradley’s coverage in the midfield that allowed teammates to push forward into the final third.

In addition to the individual prizes, the United States won the tournament’s Fair Play Award, “in recognition of the exemplary behavior that promoted the spirit of fair play and compassion in CONCACAF competition.” Gregg Berhalter’s team received a mere three yellow cards and committed 70 fouls in six matches. The USMNT previously won the award in 2003, 2009, and 2017.

Do you agree with the tournament’s Best XI selections? Do you believe any player deserved inclusion? Let us know in the comment section.