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ASN Weekly Debate

Is the Gold Cup Already a Success for the U.S.?

Everybody hug! Now stop. Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon wonder if the American success at CONCACAF's regional championship is enough even if the Stars and Stripes lose in the final. Chris Kaman shows up, too.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
July 26, 2013
12:00 PM
Noah Davis: Hey O'Hanlon. Do you think Chris Wondolowski still has that extra "w" on the inside of his uniform? Also, is the Gold Cup already a success regardless of the outcome on Sunday?

O'Hanlon: Davis. He said he was superstitious, so he probably took it off? Er, I guess it matters what the shelf life on his individual superstitions is? The answers to both of these questions are very important. Anyway, how to define success in a half-meaningful, sub-par, low-level, regional, international tournament? Landon Donovan being Landon Donovan is probably more important than a half-trophy, right?

Davis: Yes and no. The single biggest takeaway is yes, Landon Donovan is back in a very real way. That, ultimately, probably has more impact on the World Cup than anything that has happened recently. But at the same time, this U.S. team is one that hasn't won anything at any level in quite some time and a trophy feels important. It's like when one of the better teams in England has a bad year but wins the FA Cup, right? Trophies, no matter what they are, are the point of playing the game.

Still, I could not care less about the breathless coverage of the "win streak."

O'Hanlon: No, it's true. And there's some usefulness to the trophy beyond all the intangible stuff: a spot in the Confederations Cup Playoff Match. Which sounds dumb, but when you only play handful of competitive games every year, it's something to achieve. Still, I get that 10 games is 10 games. You play to win the games. You can only beat the teams you play. And, etc. So, yay! But let's take it easy and realize who these games are against and where they're being played.

Davis: I'm not sure you said anything there, but I'll keep going anyway. Another by-product of winning the tournament is besting Mexico, or at least besting the team that bested Mexico. As we saw in the 2009 Gold Cup, a victory—even by the B team—can have a significant effect on the regional power perceptions.

O'Hanlon: That was like 250 words! There was at least one takeaway in there. And what you're saying underscores everything I just said. Regional perception doesn't matter! Remember when Mexico was BY FAR the best team in CONCACAF, trending up while the US was trending down? Now they're not. Being the team in the region two and three years before the World Cup literally meant nothing as far as our current perception goes. Just like the current perception doesn't mean all that much, either.

Davis: So the Gold Cup is about a) a trophy and b) individual players, which is sort of exactly what we knew all along. One player who has impressed me is Clarence Goodson, especially going forward. Jon Arnold wrote a good piece about him after the semifinal win. You buying him as a potential first-choice starter?

O'Hanlon: Um, maybe? I understand playing him ahead of Omar Gonzalez, and I'm not at all opposed to that. But if Clarence Goodson starting means Geoff Cameron is on the bench, I don't understand it. (Cameron in the midfield, though, I am all for.) But, I can definitely see Klinsmann using Besler-Goodson in the next round of qualifiers.

Davis: Geoff Cameron should play all the positions. I can't see Goodson and Gonzalez playing alongside each other, unless Jurgen Klinsmann suddenly decided to coach basketball, but I don't think you have to worry about that too much.

O'Hanlon: I don't know. Once the Germans reconquer soccer—if they haven't already—basketball might be next.

Davis: Too late: Dirk Nowitzi. If only Germany's best basketball players played soccer. They would be the best in the world.

O'Hanlon: The thought of Chris Kaman on a soccer field will keep me up at night... maybe for the rest of my life.

Davis: Him playing basketball is bad enough. Anyway. Back to the initial question: If the U.S. loses on Sunday, can we, the people, consider the Gold Cup a success? Yes or no.

O'Hanlon: From the strict purpose of playing a soccer tournament at home, in which you are clearly the best team in the tournament, I'll actually say "no."

Davis: Agreed. What about emotionally? We are in touch with our softer side here at ASN.

O'Hanlon: Emotionally, which, considering that our time on Earth is finite and therefore confining oneself to the win-loss binary seems pointless, is the guideline that ultimately matters: yes. Landon Donovan is playing really well, and a bunch of other players look pretty good, too. It has been fun to watch.

Davis: I will only accept a trophy. Go big or go home. Unless you already are home. In which case stay there and win.

O'Hanlon: I bet you never won any sportsmanship awards as a child.

Davis: I never won anything as a child.

O'Hanlon: Well, we can discuss that on our other fake podcast: Noah and Ryan Complain About Their Childhoods to Each Other Rather Than Seeking Professional Help.

Davis: Hosted by Chris Kaman.

Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon do this every week. You cannot stop them. Nor would you want to. Hopefully.

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