Welcome back to our mini Gold Cup postmortem series where we go through and decide who helped themselves and who didn’t. If you missed it, we’ve already covered the good side. You can read that here. In true blogging fashion, it’s time to stop with all the lovey-dovey and get on with the negativity. Which players failed to grasp their chance for the United States in this Gold Cup? Here’s our picks for the three biggest losers of the tournament.
Graham Zusi is a man without a country in the figurative sense. He’s not good enough to be an option in the USMNT midfield and not experienced enough to rate as a defender. The latter portion of that reared its head in the Gold Cup as he was chosen as the team’s starting right back in the majority of the matches, preferred to Eric Lichaj.
In fairness to Bruce Arena, this tournament was always about experimentation and there’s no bigger experiment for the USMNT than Graham Zusi at right back. Chances were taken to see how he would do and we found our answer: Not well.
With the first touch of a brick wall and poor defensive awareness, Zusi looked like exactly what he is, a mediocre midfielder playing out of position. Even if unfortunate injuries were to happen to DeAndre Yedlin and/or Timmy Chandler, I wouldn’t feel comfortable at all with Zusi getting minutes in any match of consequence at this juncture.
It pains me to report that Juan Agudelo is at it again. You’ll find no bigger proponent of Agudelo’s talent than I. He’s one of the most gifted soccer players the United States has ever produced. Unfortunately, his potential has not been fulfilled. Once again Agudelo gets a few chances to show what he can do, and doesn’t capitalize.
He wasn’t bad in his few chances, but he wasn’t productive either. While he’s still just 24 years old, you have to believe that he’s running out of chances, especially in this World Cup cycle. Jordan Morris and Dom Dwyer have surpassed him on the depth chart and a roster spot in either qualifying or the World Cup seems highly unlikely at this point. There’s always a chance for a redemption story in the next cycle, but the time is rapidly running out on Agudelo’s national team hope.
This Gold Cup was supposed to be Kellyn Acosta’s time to shine. He was to be given the keys to kingdom and “King Kellyn” would be anointed and placed in the A-Team’s lineup seamlessly. It all started out so well in the warm-up friendly against Ghana with the 21-year-old scoring a great free kick and having an overall solid match. However, that’s where the fairy tail hits a roadblock.
Acosta was a disappointment for the majority of the tournament, being rendered ineffective against the likes of Martinique and El Salvador. It was his big chance to prove he belonged with the big boys and he didn’t take advantage of it. That’s why he gets a spot on this list. This isn’t to say he won’t get future chances or even get starting opportunities in the lead up to Russia ‘18. His talent and potential is obvious, but his performances in the Gold Cup didn’t live up to expectations.
Still bad at soccer