News has come in a bunch this week, but I still feel we’re not giving Gold Cup 2017 its due. It was awful and stupid and we all wish it had never happened. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it. It just means we shouldn’t learn from it.
I’m using “we” here to speak for what I assume is the vast majority of the biosphere, but man, I am not speaking for Michael Bradley, or Jozy Altidore, or any one else on the national team. They were fired up as all hell to win the thing. Maybe because a bunch of them missed those terrible first round games and didn’t have as much time to get sick of the tournament as we did.
Sure, we all took to the streets demonstrating against Michael Bradley winning the Golden Ball. But who else were you going to give it to? They weren’t going to take the thing back to Jim’s Trophy or whoever. You think CONCACAF shops at a place with a decent refund policy?
Actually, you know what, the award should have gone to Florent Malouda. I take it back, you were all right to be mad.
This was apparently Jozy’s first trophy as a soccer player, except for when he won MLS Humanitarian of the Year. Which doesn’t seem fair to the Shady Supplement Canadian Cup, because I’m pretty sure Jozy has won that by now, hasn’t he? But yes, a player who has spent his career with teams like Hull and Sunderland hasn’t won a whole ton of what you might call “anything.”
However, I think this Gold Cup has given us a glimpse of good things to come with Altidore. He’s 27 right now. If he were a musical genius and talisman for the fears and feelings of a generation, then it would be time to worry. Fortunately, he’s an athlete, and that means he’s going to go through the rest of qualifying, and the World Cup, in his physical prime.
He put up with what most of us would consider to be an unusual amount of silliness this tournament. Jozy, along with Omar Gonzalez, turned out to be the latest in a long line of irresistibly delicious soccer players. We can take a couple of things away from this. First, if “Soylent Green” ever comes true, soccer players are going to be like Texas brisket. Keep your heads down, guys.
Second, this was a helpful reminder that Jozy has been at this since the Devonian Period. There’s nothing anyone can throw at him that he hasn’t seen by now, let alone be intimidated by. I was thinking of the 2014 World Cup. The time may come when we look back on Jozy’s injury as a disastrous missed opportunity. I’m not saying we would have beaten Germany, or even Belgium. But I am saying we would have held out against Portugal, allowing us to rest against Germany and…huh, I guess I am saying we might have beaten Belgium.
Basically, Jozy’s playing at his peak, has a club that isn’t a complete termite mound, and now has a shiny little medal to go with his newfound confidence.
We, like Mexico, learned an incredibly important lesson about depth. Mexico now knows exactly how far down they can go in their talent pool, and it turns out they are exactly Cubo Torres deep. Which is great news. Yes, we all enjoyed the last few minutes of the Jamaica game, and we’re all going to name our next child “Kemar,” or “Lawrence” if it’s a girl.
Still, we have to be real. Mexico had to simultaneously worry about World Cup qualifying (insanely important), the Confederations Cup (reasonable opinions differ, but playing those kinds of teams is very useful, and after all Mexico has won the thing before), and the Gold Cup. The Gold Cup being the tournament that forces its federations to say that they are bringing their first-choice teams, or be fined. Which is something important tournaments always do.
This was Mexico’s contractual obligation album, and it turned out about as well as “Metal Machine Music.” It would have been nice for Mexico to win, but they were able to chart their talent pool much more than nearly any other nation, and their new coach will have a fantastic opportunity to – they’re keeping Osorio? What are they, gluttons for punishment?
Which brings us to CONCACAF, its scheduling of the Gold Cup, and exactly how many fertility drugs we want to force-feed the golden goose.
Perhaps this cycle will be when we learn that holding Gold Cups every twenty minutes is counter-productive. I understand the temptation to get as many US-Mexico games as possible – as it stands, CONCACAF can only rely on two every four years at Hexagonal time. Gold Cups can’t always be relied on – this tournament, frexample.
If one accepts the admittedly far-fetched premise that CONCACAF are greedy pigs, it’s easy to see why they schedule twice as many Gold Cups in order to compensate. Plus, if all goes right, you get an extra US-Mexico game! Remember the last one? When US Soccer decided it was a fine idea to put “Dos a Cero” all over the freaking Rose Bowl?
Mexico’s reward for winning that game, apart from smug satisfaction, a currency happily accepted everywhere there is love of the game, was to attend the Confederations Cup. And, as a result, stink up the Gold Cup. So Mexico will be motivated even more for the next Gold Cup, to make up for the one they blew off.
But what if the United States wins that one, too? Or what if third time is a charm for Jamaica? That scenario would probably sell out a 25,000 seater. The former is a dead loss. Knowing CONCACAF, they’ve probably not only budgeted a 90,000-plus US-Mexico Grand Final, they’ve spent the gate already.
It’s possible that CONCACAF has stumbled upon a more efficient system of getting money from their continental championships than every other continental confederation. Fans would watch another European tournament, especially a European Grand Final. I don’t think fans would get tired of more Copa America, and it certainly isn’t as if the Copa America format is treated as sacred. Perhaps in those cases it’s only the power of the large European leagues and clubs that keep this from happening.
In that case, let’s hope Liga MX and MLS get some power at some point in the near future. We must not allow CONCACAF to cheapen the Gold Cup, or the legacy of Chuck Blazer’s vision.
Sigi Schmid was fired from the Galaxy in 2004 after a 0-0 tie against Columbus. He went on to coach Columbus. Sigi Schmid’s first game after being rehired by the Galaxy was a 0-0 tie against Seattle, the team he left Columbus to coach.
I can’t help but recall the famous quote from the Apostle Paul. 1 Corinthians 15:52:
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Except Sigi Schmid. He ain’t gonna change.
Next time, on MLS: Where Are They Now? We catch up with the guy on the left of the original Columbus Crew logo.