Once upon a time the United States was not a soccer country. Then the Gold Cup happened. It has been hosted in a non-soccer country for every year of its existence. Why did CONCACAF do that? For the money, from this non-soccer country. Homefield advantage may not exist in every host city against every opponent, but that has not stopped the USA. Since 2000 when neither Mexico nor the United States made the final the Americans are better than El Tri (that soccer country to the South). Seven times the USA makes the semifinals or better. Today they will finish either first or second. A first place finish would mean they pass their measuring stick neighbors.
It will be up to Landon Donovan and his B+ squad to push past Panama. If Panama seems a regular opponent this Summer it is because they are. You may recall a certain USA-Panama World Cup Qualifier here in Seattle. If featured a certain Eddie Johnson, who despite coming in for only the knockout stages is probably going to win the title of "best American player not named Landon Donovan" for the tourney.
EJ's development with the National Team over the last year in Seattle is quite a tale. From an outsider who was making money, but not making an impression he is now becoming the Grown Ass Man he once claimed he was.
"Ever since I've been back in MLS, I like to go back and see where it all went wrong when I was in Europe," he says. "One of the biggest things for me is in order to be happy on the field, you have to be happy off the field. A lot of people didn't know I was going through a divorce last year. I was seeing a specialist and going through divorce counseling and preparing myself for how to deal with seeing your ex with someone else, how to deal with giving a percentage of my income to her. She's a good woman, and we get along better now than when we were together."
Johnson says he's thankful that his ex-wife stayed in Seattle, which allows him to see their children-Zoe, seven, and Elijah, two-nearly every day when he's not on the road for soccer. "I think it's important for a father to be there for his kids," says Johnson, who was raised by a single mother in Florida. "I want to play an important role in their lives."
Take some time to read that story at half time or after EJ puts in his second and Landon his third.
Our non-soccer country has some impressive soccer stories. Donovan has seven more goals than the next active player (Blas Perez) in Gold Cup play. Johnson
It also now has the continental championship on broadcast TV. Gus Johnson will have play-by-play on Fox as they broadcast live from Chicago's Soldier Field and this "non-soccer" country tries to win just another Final.
This is your gamethred.