The United States closed out its Gold Cup campaign in dramatic fashion thanks to a winner from Jordan Morris in the 88th minute to defeat Jamaica 2-1. Throughout the entire tournament, people questioned whether this squad could bring home the trophy, but here we are. It may have taken a few reinforcements, but we learned that they could do it.
Here is what else we learned:
Michael Bradley is back?
The last few years have been rough ones for Michael Bradley fans. He has struggled with form and had a few games where he didn’t make any real impact for the national team. It left a lot of fans calling for new faces that would put Bradley on the bench. It seems he may have finally awoken to the criticism. He came into the squad after the group stage, took the armband, and brought it. Today was no different. Instead of the constant backwards passing we had grown used to, Bradley did a good job passing forward and breaking lines. He also did well feeding the wingers and overlapping fullbacks out wide. On top of that, he broke up a number of attacks (and dare I mention his sweet dribbling skills he’s been hiding all this time??)
His free kicks were a little off Wednesday night, but he still won the Golden Ball for the tournament. Hopefully the anti-Bradley crowd take a step back, for now at least.
Darlington Nagbe is (still) kinda really good
Darlington Nagbe had to apply his trade in two different positions Wednesday night, and he was great in both. Starting on the wing, he was constantly pushing the ball forward and finding passes. Then, moving to the center, he played a key part in maintaining possession, transitioning the ball from defense to offense, and applying pressure on the Jamaican players. Also, he drew foul after foul all night. Nagbe belongs in the starting XI every game, but it’s his versatility which makes him even more valuable for the roster come next summer.
Clint Dempsey is a real super-sub
Clint Dempsey is getting older as days go by, so maybe he can’t play 90 minutes each game anymore. Still, that didn’t stop him from making an impact on this tournament. He came on around the 60 minute mark against both Costa Rica and Jamaica, and the game changed both times. He may not have put his name on the scoresheet against Jamaica, but you couldn’t help but notice that the USMNT started an onslaught of attacks once he came on (outside of the one counter attack Jamaica almost scored on). For the first time since I can remember, the USMNT might have a player that we look forward to subbing in. Instead of needing a goal and throwing in another striker who is fresh but might be a step down in quality, we might be able to get into a habit of looking forward to the clock hitting 60 and Deuce stepping onto the field.
Jordan Morris made his case for the 23-man roster
There is a battle raging for the fourth forward spot on the 23-man World Cup roster. It is generally assumed Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, and Bobby Wood are all going to be on the squad barring injuries. Will they be joined by Jordan Morris, Juan Agudelo, or Dom Dwyer? It seems safe to say that Morris is leading that race right now. Agudelo didn’t earn much playing time and while Dwyer scored a few goals, he was sent home after the group stage. Morris scored three goals in the tournament, with the last one being the biggest goal in his young career. He may not have played particularly well Wednesday night, but he got a chance late in the game and took it with a fine finish. You have to do that on the international level, and we just saw that he can.
Any other lessons? Throw ‘em in the comments section.