If it seems that I've been paying the Gold Cup about as much respect as US Soccer is, that's because the Fullback clan has been in full Family Summertime Fun Mode of late. I got home Saturday night just in time to watch the US huff and puff for about twenty minutes before Holden dropped his bomb. Today, I finally got to see what happened in the rest of the match.
I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be horrified by Heaps' performance in what must surely be his one and only cap or delighted that he pretty much performed down below my sub-oceanic floor expectations. And where's Bretos screaming "WORLD CLASS!" when you need him for those last two goals?
Anyway, I see on my feed reader today that Parkhurst and Cherundolo have joined Adu and Feilhaber on the road back to Euro-pre-season. Well, that just about proves how seriously Bob, and US Soccer in general, is taking this thing. So in that spirit, I'll just dash through what's left of the roster and pick (only semi at random) a starting lineup for next Saturday, a game that I, once again, won't be watching because it'll be on at the same time as United host Colorado just a couple of hours down the road.
GK - Perkins. Duh. DC fans got to see the Ghost of What Used to Be (Perkins) and the Ghost of What Might Have Been (Robles--we drafted him, remember? Heck we probably still own his MLS rights). Suffice it to say, Used to Be trumped Might Have Been by some distance.
DEF - Pearce at left back (you really want to see Heaps again?) and Marshall in the middle (wasn't that a TV show...kidding) are pretty much no-brainers. As for a partner for Marshall? With Parkhurst (who's looked rotten anyway) out of the picture, and Conrad looking ready to put out to pasture, it's got to be Goodson if he's healthy, neh? On the right? Dolo's departure leaves us with the Great Converted Midfielder experiment again. So who will it be? Evans, Cronin, Pause? Maybe the bustling Arnaud? Take your pick, they'll all be lame. Way to bring the depth, Bob. Think the limited Marvell Wynne might have been useful here?
MID - Just like with the defense, I think we're safe if we call Rogers on the left and Beckerman in the middle. Likewise, Holden is a lock, but where do you put him? If you pair him with Beckerman in the middle, Quaranta or Arnaud go on the right. The more likely scenario is Holden on the right. So who goes with Beckerman? He seems to play better in a more defensive role with a creator-type beside him. But with Feilhaber heading back to Denmark, who is that creator? Maybe Holden, but I've got this nasty sinking feeling that Bob's going to call in one of his "Magnificent Seven" replacement players and put his trust in Sacha "Magic 'Stache" Kljestan. Oy vey!
FWD - Ching and Davies. Any questions? Kenny Cooper? You done messing with BigSoccer's collective head yet?
So that's about the shape of it for me. Any guesses from the peanut gallery? Or are you past the point of caring now? Panama has some pretty dangerous players, but we should still have the tools in the chest to negate them. The keys will be patience and paying far better attention to the counter. Our chances will come. We just need to take them.