Today is the day for the U.S. in the final group game against Guadeloupe. The rather disappointing performances of the first two games caused the “Rainbow Press” to fall into all kind of speculation, number crunching, tea leaf reading and other space fillers. It seems that the soccer press had a plan A and the pre written reports are now obsolete. Worse, there is no plan B and the experts are now forced to fall back into speculation and other fear mongering such as what happens if the U.S. is going to lose against Guadeloupe? Please. One could think these reporters have never followed soccer tournaments and are completely unaware of the dynamics that can develop throughout such a competition.
Yes, the U.S. have to win against Guadeloupe. So? They will. For the U.S., the knock-out stages have begun a game earlier as planned. That is a good thing. It wasn’t the first time that a tournament favorite struggled to “manage” group games, and, it wasn’t the last time. From now on it is winning the games, one by one as they come up. This is exactly what is going to happen tonight, the U.S. will win and move on into the next stage. Who they will play, doesn’t matter. It is not going to be Mexico, which is the only serious opponent in this tournament, despite the improvement of other teams. By the way, how well the Mexicans will do in the knock out stages has to be seen. The “fuzzing around” against Cuba and such is over now, a lot of stuff is possible.
It is quite possible that the U.S. is ending up on first place in their group. In all the reported horror scenarios, the fact that Canada wants to qualify is forgotten. They can, with a win against Panama. That would straighten out the table and everything is going to be “normal” again. A lot of smoke about nothing.
In case Panama confirms their improvement, the U.S. will face Jamaica. That’s bad for the Jamaicans, even though they are confident that their game is good enough to make it far. Some reporting suggested that Jamaica is going to go deep in this tournament. Well, that depends on the outcome of the U.S. group.
It is great to see that some teams have improved and became serious contenders in this and future CONCACAF tournaments. That will help improve soccer and the competition in the region. The new normal might be that others can play soccer as well, maybe even better. That’s an experience the Europeans and South Americans make all the time in their regional tournaments. Those that are afraid of losing to other countries can watch other sports that have no foreign competition. One way or the other, they are always “World Champions”, aren’t they? Let’s all stop crying and enjoy better and more competitive soccer.