The United States run to the final in the CONCACAF Gold Cup this year has been one of remarkable ease. Cruising through each of its opponents without hardly so much as a need to break a sweat, the team found itself qualifying for the event’s final before ever really being challenged. The team has now received its first challenge, and it has nothing to do with their opponent. Team USA’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been suspended for the upcoming Gold Cup final against Panama.
An explosion of goals and victories has to this point defined the Gold Cup for the Americans. With a +15 goal differential thus far in the tournament, they have not simply been squeaking by, they have been destroying teams. Currently playing perhaps the highest level of soccer we have ever seen from Team USA, the current ten game win streak decimates the previous team record. The team hasn’t even had an injury during the Gold Cup.
However actions in the late stages of a 3-1 win over a paltry Honduras team have come back to haunt them. After he felt the referees were failing to enforce blatant fouls, Klinsmann blew up at the officials, slammed the ball to the turf, and was ejected. You can watch the scene below.
In the aftermath of the victory, the sports governing body convened and determined what should be done about the ejection.
During the 49th hourof the committees 48 hour time frame to announce its decision to suspend USA coach Klinsmann from the Gold Cup Final against Panama, his first final event of any kind as the American international coach.
“Mr. Klinsmann was ejected from the technical area for showing dissent toward the referee by throwing the ball in a violent manner,” CONCACAF explained in a statement on Friday night.
Team captain DaMarcus Beasley explained how his team will handle the loss of their coach. “We can’t let that affect us. We have to go out and play our game. [Klinsmann] gives us the tactics, but at the same time we know how to play football, we know how he wants us to play. I’m sure he’ll be cheering us on from wherever he’s sitting.”
The man who will coach the Americans in place of Klinsmann was not immediately known, however Landon Donovan will certainly be the leader of the team when they take the field at Soldier Field in Chicago for the final.
Donovan is in the midst of a glorious comeback which he looks to cap off with a victory in the Gold Cup final. “I guess I would have expected it be probably a little more difficult up to this point,” Donovan says about his return to team USA in the Gold Cup. He has five goals and seven assists so far, and is considered a front runner for tournament MVP.
After burning himself out of soccer and needing a break, Donovan has returned to the game he loves feeling good about himself. “I think it’s the most relaxed I’ve ever felt and the most enjoyable it’s felt in a long time. And I think when that’s the case I do really well,” said Donovan.
Once looking like a long shot to make the World Cup team, Landon Donovan has likely played his way into his third World Cup with his performance in the Gold Cup this year.
Team USA has hit a snag heading into the Gold Cup final, losing their coach to suspension, however thanks to the leadership of Landon Donovan, the Americans will still be a big favorite to take home the title. If Landon Donovan continues to play loose, his infectious style of late will continue to spread onto his teammates as he leads them to victory.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express