Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Mudita

Gold Cup Quarters Edition

With lackluster showings against Panama and Gaudeloupe in the group stage eradicating any confidence coming from that heartening effort against Canada in the opener, the USA entered this quarterfinal tilt against Jamaica as paper tigers. The Jamaicas had the edge in form over the past week and had yet to concede a goal in romping through the group stage by an aggregate 7-0.

Adversity of the emotional and logistic nature seemed to have brought out the best in the Americans. With doubts creeping into the camp and the crowd and two of the team's most integral players arriving in DC at the last minute for the match, the US seemed on the precipice of a defeat that could cost Bob Bradley his coaching job and sent the team into a tailspin that could seriously hamper the run-up to 2014 Brazil. Both Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were out of town before the game to attend the weddings of their sisters. Dempsey got himself back with the team in time to get into the starting lineup while Donovan came off the bench.

A deflected Jermaine Jones shot that staked the US to a 1-0 lead early the second half, and Dempsey - making amends for an unfathomably tepid performance against Guadeloupe - put the game away with an icy cool finish in front of goal. He is undeniably the most charismatic force on our side.

Awaiting the #USMNT in the semifinals is the team that undressed them in the group stage, Panama. Thanks to a controversial equalizer at the death, Los Canaleros (yeah, that translates into "the canal men") were able to advance on penalty kicks.

On the other side of the draw, the Mexicans continue to do their part to set up the USA-Mexico Border War that everyone wants in the final. The legend of the diminutive Chicharito surely won't be hindered by his fantastic back-heel winner.

To complete the Final Four, Los Catrachos eliminated Costa Rica on penalties. The Hondurans benefited from a late penalty miss by the Costa Ricans during regulation play and were flawless from the spot when it counted.

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