Back in March, U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena said that a perfect year would be to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup and qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Those comments were made at a time when the returning U.S. manager had led the team in just two friendlies and prior to coaching his first games in Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, in which the United States held zero points. A little more than four months later, Arena has guided the U.S. MNT on the path to a 14-match unbeaten streak, culminating with Wednesday’s 2-1 win vs. Jamaica and the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship.
“If you asked me in November this is where we’d be with the program, I’d probably say, ‘I don’t think so,’” Arena said about guiding the team to its sixth confederation championship. “For me personally, it’s certainly feels good, but I think for the players that are working real hard to represent the United States and get our National Team program better, it’s a lot of credit to them.”
While hailing the effort of the entire group during the three-week tournament, Arena was pointed in his praise for the team’s veteran players in both winning the competition and extending the team’s unbeaten streak.
“Our players have done simply an outstanding job from the first day I’ve taken this position. Our older players are unbelievable. The passion they have for this program, from our oldest player Tim Howard, to our captain Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, who is going to do whatever necessary for this team to be successful.”
Bradley had similar praise for the way the U.S. boss has managed things since taking over in November.
“It’s been a good stretch for us, there’s no two ways about it,” said the tournament's Golden Ball winner. “A lot of credit has to go to Bruce and his staff for all the work they’ve done since they’ve come in. I think he’s found a group of players that are extremely willing and committed to do anything that he asks. I think it’s coming together in a good way.”
And while Wednesday night was about enjoying the moment, Bradley was adamant that the job isn’t yet finished.
“We’ve got to keep going,” Bradley continued. “We’re going to enjoy this tonight, but then we have to shift focus in a few weeks when we come back together for two qualifiers, because we have to take care of business and make sure that we’re on a plane to Russia next summer, ready to do something real there.”
And while the September World Cup Qualifiers against Costa Rica and away to Honduras will be challenging, should the U.S. win both, not only will the team tie its record 16-match unbeaten streak achieved under Arena in 2004 and 2005, it will also put itself on the doorstep of an eighth-straight FIFA World Cup appearance.
“We’ve made progress, but we have a long way to go,” Arena said. “We have to have the tone set the right way if we’re going to get through these next four World Cup Qualifying games. We’re making progress, we have to, but I still think we’re behind the eight ball so we have to be successful in September and October and we have a group of guys that are motivated to do that.”Read more
The 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup ended in the best way possible with Wednesday’s 2-1 win against Jamaica. Take a numerical look back at the month-long tournament below:
88 – The minute Jordan Morris scored the USA’s game-winner in the 2-1 Final victory against Jamaica, standing as the latest regulation time goal in Gold Cup history.
57 – Clint Dempsey’s record goal scoring figure following his free kick vs. Costa Rica, tying him with Landon Donovan atop the U.S. MNT’s all-time goals list.
56 – The overall games won total by the U.S. MNT at the Gold Cup, a tournament record.
48 – The number of players who have appeared for the U.S. MNT in 2017.
41 - The number of career clean sheets Tim Howard has following his 2-0 shutouts of El Salvador and Costa Rica. He sits just six back of Kasey Keller for the U.S. MNT's all-time lead.
32 – Total amount of days the U.S. MNT was on the road from the start of camp on June 25 and the Final on July 26.
27 – The number of players on the combined 29-man roster who appeared in the tournament.
25 years, 280 days – The average age of the U.S. starting XI in Wednesday’s win vs. Jamaica, the third youngest MNT lineup in Gold Cup Final history after 1991 (23 years, 188 days) and 2007 (25 years, 254 days).
21 – The overall assist number for Clint Dempsey after he dished three helpers in his three matches. The forward sits one behind Michael Bradley and Cobi Jones for second on the U.S. MNT’s all-time list.
19 – The team-leading number of clearances made by Omar Gonzalez during his five matches.
16 – The U.S. MNT’s winning streak when Clint Dempsey scores a goal, dating all the way back to a 2-1 win on June 1, 2014 vs. Turkey.
14 – The run of matches the U.S. has gone unbeaten since Bruce Arena returned as manager, setting a new record for longest undefeated streak at the start of a U.S. MNT head coaching tenure (9-0-5).
13 – The number of goals the U.S. tallied in its six Gold Cup games, outscoring second-best Jamaica which had seven.
11 – The team-leading total number of caps that full backs Jorge Villafaña and Graham Zusi have earned during 2017.
10 – The number of U.S. MNT appearances in the Gold Cup Final, also the most all-time in CONCACAF.10 – The number of U.S. players to score in each of their first two caps after Dom Dwyer tallied in the 2-1 friendly win vs. Ghana on July 1 and 1-1 draw vs. Panama on July 8.
9 - The number of U.S. MNT players that scored goals: Jordan Morris (3), Jozy Altidore and Omar Gongoal scorerszalez (2), Joe Corona, Clint Dempsey, Dom Dwyer, Eric Lichaj, Matt Miazga and Kelyn Rowe.
9 – The number of second half goals scored by the U.S. over the course of its six tournament games.
7 – The team-leading number of clearances Matt Besler had in Wednesday’s win vs. Jamaica.
6 – The number of U.S. players who made the tournament’s Best XI: defenders Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi, midfielders Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe and forwards Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris.
6 – As the only U.S. player to appear in all six matches, the amount of games Jordan Morris featured in the tournament.
6 – The number of all-time Gold Cup assists Alejandro Bedoya and Michael Bradley now have, tying them with Eric Wynalda for second all-time among U.S. players at the confederation championship.
6 – The total number of Gold Cup titles won by the U.S. MNT: 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017.
5 – The team-leading number of starts Omar Gonzalez had during the tournament, missing out only on the team’s 3-0 win vs. Nicaragua.
3 – Bruce Arena’s number of Gold Cup titles, the most by a manager all-time in the confederation championship.
3 – With Michael Bradley winning the Golden Ball, the total number of U.S. players to win the tournament’s award as best player, following Brian McBride (2002) and Landon Donovan (2013).
3 – The number of goals Jordan Morris scored to tie with Alphonso Davies (Canada) and Kévin Parsemain (Martinique) as the tournament’s joint leading goal scorers.
3 – The number of U.S. goalkeepers (Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid and Tim Howard) who played and won a game during the Gold Cup – the first occurrence in 14 editions of the tournament.
3 – With Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj’s goals vs. El Salvador, the number of times two U.S. defenders have tallied in the same game during the modern era (1990-present).
0 – The amount of minutes the U.S. MNT trailed during the tournament.Read more