Fabian Johnson (#23) shields the ball during the USA's CONCACAF Cup match against Mexico on October 10, 2015, in Pasadena, California. (Photo: Mexsport)
PASADENA, California – Besides the fact that the United States fell to Mexico on both occasions, there are very few similarities between Saturday’s CONCACAF Cup and the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
OK…both games were played at the Rose Bowl before crowds of more than 93,000, generating generous amounts of thrilling football and producing 11 total goals.
However, when you take into account that the game pitted Gold Cup champions from two different editions against each other -- 2013 (U.S.) and 2015 (Mexico) -- the match-up deserves closer inspection.
CONCACAF.com has already taken look at Mexico, now here are some observations from the U.S. side of the memorable pairing.
- MICHAEL BRADLEY, CLINT DEMPSEY & FABIAN JOHNSON
Kudos to Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson for being the only players in the U.S. national team’s player pool to have played every match in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2015 CONCACAF Cup.
That’s participation in 11 straight games over the course of three major competitions without missing out for any reason.
Special praise, however, must be reserved for Bradley. He’s the only one of that trio to start each of those games. Dempsey entered as a substitute twice, while Johnson came in off the bench once.
- 2013 CONCACAF GOLD CUP/2015 CONCACAF CUP CHAMPIONS - ROSTER COMPARISON
The U.S. qualified for the CONCACAF Cup by virtue of winning the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. In that competition, the names of 27 players appeared on the American roster.
Of that group, only six (DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Matt Besler, Michael Orozco, Nick Rimando and Chris Wondolowski) were selected for the CONCACAF Cup. Narrowing it down even further, three from those six (Beasley, Beckerman and Besler) played Saturday (all three started and went the distance).
By contrast, 13 players from Mexico’s 2015 Gold Cup-winning squad were chosen for the 23-man CONCACAF Cup roster…seven of those competitors played in the Gold Cup final (3-1 win v Jamaica) and the CONCACAF Cup.
It’s also worth noting that Wondolowski and Landon Donovan shared the Golden Boot award (along with Panama’s Gabriel Torres) in the 2013 Gold Cup with five goals each. Wondolowski did not play in the CONCACAF Cup and, obviously, Donovan is retired.
- 2011 CONCACAF GOLD CUP FINAL/2015 CONCACAF CUP COMPRARISON
There is no escaping the fact that the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final and the 2015 CONCACAF Cup were exceptionally exciting spectacles; two games worthy of the Confederation’s most decorated teams.
Even though only slightly more than four years separated the occasions, just seven players combined from the sides to appear in both matches (actually, all seven started in both as well).
Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones were the USA’s lone participants to contest both encounters, while four from Mexico -- Andres Guardado, Javier Hernandez, Rafael Marquez and Hector Moreno -- did the same. Bradley and Guardado each scored in the 2011 final, but neither netted on Saturday night.
Interestingly, both matches were tied 2-2 at some point and Mexico was the team to break the deadlock each time.
None of the six players making substitute appearances in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final played in the CONCACAF Cup. The USA’s subs that year were Jonathan Bornstein (11’ for Steve Cherundolo), Juan Agudelo (63’ for Alejandro Bedoya) and Sacha Kljestan (86’ for Freddy Adu).
- BOBBY WOOD
Bobby Wood’s spectacular burst onto the U.S. national team scene continued Saturday. The 22-year-old, whose entire professional career has been spent in the lower divisions of German football, has scored three goals this year; each of them against top-level competition.
He netted game-winners in friendlies at the Netherlands (4-3: June 5, 2015) and at Germany (2-1: June 10, 2015), before making it 2-2 against Mexico on Saturday.
Wood signed a three-year deal with second-tier side Union Berlin in July and already has four goals in 10 Bundesliga II games.
His star is clearly on the rise.