The Soccer Desk

Gold Cup Final: The March to Soldier Field

Soldier Field

Much like Jurgen Klinsmann and his band of “B” teamers, this will be The Soccer Desk’s first Gold Cup final.  Covering this tournament, not matter what people may think of it, has been the single biggest endevour this website has taken on since its inception just this past April. Here at TSD, we are striving to do things that no other soccer blog has done before, and we’re doing so in the midst of the United States going on a 10 game winning streak on their way to the Gold Cup Final.  As Sunday quickly approaches and the Yanks march onto Soldier Field, here is a look back at TSD’s coverage of the tournament.

Our live coverage began in Harrison, NJ with Group B action.  TSD’s Brian Barrish was at Red Bull Arena covering the first two matches, with El Salvador taking on Trinidad & Tabago and Honduras going up against Haiti.  While the USMNT did not play that night, each of these matches had their own respective excitement.  With a 2-2 draw between the El Salvador and T&T and a 2-0 victory for the Hondurans, the US would eventually get past these two squads on the way to the final in Chicago.

One of Honduras' two goals on the night at Red Bull Arena

One of Honduras’ two goals of the night at Red Bull Arena

The next night, Colin Harvey was at JELD-WEN Field in Portland, with the USMNT getting their first taste of Gold Cup action, while the Ticos took on a Cuba side that would shock Belize less than a week later.  For Klinsmann and the US, their contest against Belize was almost a continuation of what they did to Guatemala in their Gold Cup warm-up match.  Chris Wondolowski, with an extra W on his jersey, would score a first half hat trick, while Landon Donovan showed to the world he deserves to be back with two goals of his own in the second half on the way to a 6-1 victory.

Although TSD wasn’t on location until the following week in Hartford, the Gold Cup carried on, as did the coverage.  With the US, Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama all advancing to the quarter-finals before the week was even out, there was a lot to talk about.  Chris Wondolowski was surging, as was Landon Donovan.  With another big result (4-1 over Cuba), Richard McGovern had much to say about the Yanks early quarter-final qualification.

Already it was Tuesday and yours truly was in Hartford, CT, specifically Rentschler Field, home of the UConn Huskies.  With heat wave-like temperatures and the biggest challenge yet for Klinsmann and the Red, White and Blue in Costa Rica, it was all or nothing.  The US boss made it clear that advancing to the quarter-finals wasn’t enough; he was going to put his best team on the field in order to finish atop Group C.  Although it was the USMNT’s most tightly contested match thus far, the night would still belong to the Stars and Stripes, with a late game-winner from Brek Shea (his first international goal).  Nine out of nine possible points later, a spot in the final at historic Soldier Field became that much clearer.  Cuba would also advance, coming back to score four goals.

Brek Shea. who got the game winner against Costa Rica, making a run

Brek Shea. who scored the game winner against Costa Rica, making a run

With TSD’s live coverage coming to a close, Rick McGovern found himself in Baltimore, Maryland for the Gold Cup quarterfinal.  As our one-man walking, talking US Soccer encyclopedia noted about the US’ semi-final match, it was getting hard to keep finding new adjectives to describe the dominant run of form USMNT were on.  It was yet another blow out, with another stunning performance from Landon Donovan, who picked up his second brace of the tournament.  This time it was El Salvador who felt Klinsmann’s wrath: a 5-1 thrashing and a ticket punched to the semis at Cowboy Stadium.

LD taking in yet another dominating performance in Baltimore...Deal with it.

LD taking in yet another dominating performance in Baltimore

TSD’s on-site coverage may have ended in Baltimore, but the Gold Cup carried on, as did the USMNT, who defeated Honduras 3-1 in the semis to earn a spot in the final.

Of course, there were other stories to be told throughout the course of the tournament.  Even before the Gold Cup started, Brian Barrish gave readers a lesson in geography, mapping out the logistics of the cup and how it could be improved.  Colin Harvey shared the rich soccer histories of both Portland and Baltimore.  I personally got to experience what the hashtag #AOFamily stood for first-hand.  The Connecticut chapter of the American Outlaws threw a great party the night before, then made their presence known throughout the match against Costa Rica.  Brian Barrish, having experienced the quarterfinals from the stands in Baltimore, told his story from the fan’s point of view.

The Soccer Desk also took a look back to two past Gold Cups.  Dan Stelly took a look back at the 2007 final, and the many stories surrounding that.  Futbol Intellect’s Maxi Rodriguez also told the story of the shocking 2011 Gold Cup final that saw the US eliminated, and Bob Bradley’s last match as head coach.

Now, as the USMNT head to the Gold Cup 2013 final at Soldier Field against Panama in just two hours’ time, we here at The Soccer Desk will wrap up our coverage as well.  Rick McGovern has all you need to know going into the match, and post-game, we’ll have all the reaction tomorrow night on the TSD Podcast, no matter the outcome.  As Editor in Chief, I sincerely hope you enjoyed all we had to offer when it came to this tournament.  We took the Gold Cup very seriously and our writers worked some long hours to bring you nothing but the best.  All that’s left now is to sit back, but maybe not relax, and watch as the US take on Panama.  You can follow along with @soccerdesk on Twitter for up-to-the-minute match updates.

photo courtesy of Soccer by Ives