The U.S. men’s soccer team will play for its sixth Gold Cup title Wednesday, as the Americans host Jamaica at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The United States also hopes to do something it hasn’t done in 13 matches under Bruce Arena: lose.
Yes, the Americans are 8-0-5 under Arena, which suggests that moving on from Jurgen Klinsmann was the right choice.
“I think it was the right move at the right time,” Fox Sports soccer analyst Fernando Fiore said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Maybe for many people it should have been done a little bit earlier. Back in November, when we lost to Mexico in Columbus, the players started to complain openly to everybody, saying, ‘We don’t know what we’re doing on the pitch. We don’t know what is our duty. We don’t know what to do.’ Klinsmann was not doing the right work in terms of putting the right players in the right position. That was a big problem why the players were starting to complain openly. So I think it was a move that was necessary. So far, he’s got an incredible record.”
The United States had success under Klinsmann – it advanced to the knockout stages of the 2014 World Cup, for example – but the players seem happier with Arena.
“He came in, he changed the attitude, the players are much more relaxed now, they’re much more focused on what they have to do, and they’re happy,” Fiore sad. “We had an incredible game in Mexico with the qualifiers. We are having a very good run at the Gold Cup. I think we are heading to Russia in 2018. I think Bruce Arena has done a heck of a job doing this particular job: qualify for 2018 and do the best we can in Russia. After that, it will be a new project and we will start a blank book with a lot of empty pages.”
The U.S. advanced to the Gold Cup final after beating Costa Rica, 2-0, in the semis, while Jamaica advancing after downing Mexico, 1-0. The Americans have won the Gold Cup five times, with their most recent title coming in 2013. Jamaica upset the U.S. in the Gold Cup semis in 2015.
“Either one could be a champion,” Fiore said. “Let me put it this way: the Jamaican players, they are hungry. This is their World Cup. (The U.S.) is hungry also, and they’re at home. They know that they have a chance to make a good push for the rest of the qualifiers. So I don’t think that either team is looking at the other one saying, ‘Well, we can beat this one easy.’ No way. They’re both teams that are really hungry for this tournament.”