USA must defeat Guadeloupe in Gold Cup in KC tonight

The Kansas City Star reported:

The Kansas City Star reported:

Less than 24 hours after a history-making loss, the United States men’s national soccer team landed in Kansas City bloody, but unbowed.

Not only did a 2-1 defeat against Panama on Saturday night mark the Americans’ first group-play loss in the 20-year history of the Gold Cup, it also made their next game, an 8 p.m. showdown on Tuesday against Guadeloupe at Livestrong Sporting Park, a must-win if they want to advance to the quarterfinals of the 12-team tournament, which determines the best team in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

“We have everything to play for,” said defender Clarence Goodson, who scored the United States’ only goal against Panama. “It was a little speed bump.”

But it might be more than that if the U.S. doesn’t find a way to beat Guadeloupe. The top two teams from each of the three groups advance to the quarterfinals, along with the two teams with the next best records — wild cards, if you will.

Panama, 2-0-0, is currently first in Group C, while the United States and Canada are tied for second at 1-1-0 and Guadeloupe is last at 0-2-0. A win for the U.S. practically guarantees a spot in the next round, while a loss would make things much murkier.

The good news is that the U.S. would seem to have a favorable matchup against Guadeloupe, a team that didn’t even qualify for seven of the past 11 Gold Cups. But Panama, which was winless against the U.S. in eight previous Gold Cup matches, showed how much history matters on Saturday when it outplayed the sluggish Americans and took a 2-0 first-half lead.

Afterward, U.S. captain Landon Donovan admitted that his team “came out flat.” But Goodson insisted Sunday they didn’t underestimate Panama.

“We all said leading up to the game they were a team that was dangerous,” Goodson said. “We made some bad mistakes and they punished us for it like any good team would.”

Goodson scored a goal in the 68th minute, lifting the United States’ comeback hopes, but it turned out to be too little, too late.

“We improved in the second half and had plenty of chances to score,” Goodson continued. “We just couldn’t put it in the back of net. That’s how it goes some days.”

Goodson, of course, was optimistic that Tuesday’s game would present a more favorable result. A big reason for that is the team’s continuity; this is a group that has played together for a while.

“We have 17 of 23 guys from the World Cup team, guys who have been around and know each other pretty well,” he said. “We’ve had some times where we looked very good, other times we haven’t. That’s how the game goes.”

The other reason for his optimism is the sellout crowd that’s expected to pack Livestrong Sporting Park, one that’s expected to be extremely pro-American.

And Goodson, who said he watched some of Sporting KC’s home opener against Chicago on Thursday, remains hopeful that raucous environment will carry over to their game, too.

“I know this is one of the premier stadiums in MLS and from what I hear, the best in the world,” Goodson said. “We’re certainly looking forward to it.

“Hopefully it lives up to those expectations.”

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