Nothing involving small Caribbean islands is supposed to cause stress. This match against Guadeloupe was supposed to be a breather for the U.S. in the middle of the tournament. It was supposed to be the let’s-check-in-on-Freddy-Adu-and-Marcus-Hahnemann match. Can Eric Lichaj play in the midfield? Let’s find out against Guadeloupe. Let’s get Gooch some minutes. Now is a good time — maybe the only good time — to work Wondolowski into the mix. That was the plan. But that’s now all out the window because of our 2-1 loss to Panama.
Fortunately, the Gold Cup is a forgiving tournament. We still advance to the knockout round with a win, and a tie might even do the trick, though I don’t think I can stand the indignity of having to pray for a result in the Canada-Panama match in order for us to get through. If we get into the knockout round, we’re still on the opposite side of the bracket as Mexico as long as we don’t advance as a third-place team. Though, again, if we advance on points as a third-place team, my embarrassment might cause me to jump out of a window before a U.S.-Mexico quarterfinal.
So, let’s just win tonight. It’s Guadeloupe. I know, I know: they’ve got some decent players, French ex-pats, etcetera. Come on. Show of hands: if not for this tournament, how many of us would think that a Guadeloupe is a little orange guy who works for Willy Wonka? It’s good to respect your opponents, and there’s no question that Guadeloupe could win or draw, but we should win this match.
Here’s the lineup I think we’ll see: Howard | Bornstein, Bocanegra, Goodson, Cherundolo | Dempsey, Bradley, Edu, Donovan | Agudelo, Altidore
I’m fine with that, though personally I’d prefer Lichaj to Bornstein. Ream wasn’t great against Panama, so I won’t be surprised if he sits. I think Edu might be in there because he’s basically the same type of player as Jones except that he has fresh legs and isn’t carrying any cards. I think it’s also possible that we’ll see Kljestan on the right and Dempsey in Agudelo’s spot. I’d be okay with that. I’ll be okay with anything that gets us three points.