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ASN Weekly Debate

Will the United States Win the Gold Cup?

The Americans last raised the regional championship trophy in 2007. Can they do it again in 2013? Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon debate that question and talk Landon Donovan in the starting XI.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
July 19, 2013
1:00 PM
Noah Davis: Hey Ryan, how's it hanging? Will the United States national team win the Gold Cup?

Ryan O'Hanlon: It's ... hanging? And, yes. The U.S. national team will (probably) win the Gold Cup.

Davis: Another solid answer from Ryan "I'm Going Out on the Safest Limb Possible" O'Hanlon. For the sake of argument, I will say no. I also don't think they will. The match against Costa Rica was concerning in the impressive inability to generate anything in the way of an offense. We are one Go-Go Sean Johnson leap from 1-0 the other way, right?

O'Hanlon: Sure. But we're also one "goalie using his hands where he shouldn't" away from another goal for the U.S. The U.S. dominated the ball/Costa Rica packed it in, so I'm not totally concerned with that.

Davis: Possession does not equal goals is the new correlation does not equal causation.

O'Hanlon: Obviously it doesn't, but it's generally a good sign. I'm not really concerned with the "lack of attacking." It's one game, and it's also a lineup we're probably never going to see again, anyway.

Davis: Fine. (Being Skip Bayless is terrible. I give up.) I'm excited about the possibility of Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez getting back together in the center. I'm tired of watching relative incompetence back there—although Clarence Goodson was good against Costa Rica—and the two of them clearly need more reps.

O'Hanlon: Am I Stephen A. Smith? I can—but please don't make me, please—be Stephen A. Smith.

Davis: You're not loud enough. Although you do like to use capital letters, which I edit to italics.

O'Hanlon: That is the nicest thing you've ever said to me.

Davis: I can't hear you.

O'Hanlon: Nevermind, it wasn't important. I would normally be opposed to swapping in new players, just because it's fun/good seeing guys who don't normally play all that much. But when you're replacing kind of old and not-young (Goodson and Orozco) with young and young—especially when young-and-young (which would be a good name for an investment firm, btw) are currently the preferred starting pair for the first team—I'm all for it.

Davis: Sure. Whatever. Defenders! Great. Moving on. Let's talk about Landon Donovan. I said I thought he would go over six goals and assists combined for the tournament, and you scoffed. Now what's up? Granted, most of those came against terrible Belize and terrible Cuba, but they all count. If the World Cup is today—maybe tomorrow because it's getting rather late in the day to schedule an entire international soccer tournament—is he in your starting lineup?

O'Hanlon: Yes.

Davis: That's definitive. Maybe your first definitive answer ever.

O'Hanlon: Longer answer: I get that the front four of Johnson-Zusi-Altidore-Dempsey has something good going, but Donovan belongs in that group. He just commands more attention, moves more creatively around the field, and just makes the team way more dynamic. Soccer buzzwords.

Davis: Who do you take off?

O'Hanlon: Hmmmm, Beasley. Bump Fabian Johnson back. That's just automatically a much better team, isn't it?

Davis: A better team on paper, yes. But perhaps not in practice. I worry about Donovan's free kicks and his crosses. I'd still rather see him come off the bench.

O'Hanlon: Eh, I don't totally buy that. Donovan is a smart—if not the smartest—player, so it's tough to see how him coming in would screw things up. The Johnson/Donovan combo seems like it'd be deadly.

Davis: But smarts doesn't equal talent. I'm sorry, but the dude can't cross the ball. That sounds mean. But you're talking about a team that found success getting it wide and getting it back in, something that didn't always happen when he was on the field.

O'Hanlon: Fabian Johnson is still on the field. Donovan always tends to drift in from the left, too. So there's space for him to attack. I don't know. It's really tough for me to rationalize him not playing. Anything else seems to be over-thinking/nitpicking.

Davis: I guess why change what has been working? It's like putting a band-aid on something that's not cut.

O'Hanlon: It's working, sure. But it's not like the U.S. is conquering world soccer. They're doing well in CONCACAF, which is not easy, but they can still always improve.

Davis: Nope. The new American soccer motto should be #RefusetoChange

O'Hanlon: The only way I get behind that is if all the players start wearing hats and Tim Howard wears a lace-up goalie jersey and no gloves. Also: he's not allowed to catch the ball.

Davis: Maybe we get that Costa Rican keeper, too. He seems pro-not playing the sport as it was intended.

O'Hanlon: The more things change, er, the more they stay the same?

Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon do this every week. It's like a silent podcast.

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