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USA 2737 2380 USA players to watch during 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup 31839912 Trial run Trial+run USA

United States coach Jürgen Klinsmann needed to find out about the options at his disposal ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He may not have liked everything he saw (and with good reason after a poor opening half-hour) in the 6-0 victory over Guatemala, but he did gather plenty of information about his side ahead of the opener against Belize in Portland, Ore. on Tuesday and watched it improve considerably over the course of the 90 minutes.

 

With the lone friendly in the books and this group already focused on the giant task ahead, here are a few key players to watch as the Gold Cup commences:
 

--Kyle McCarthy

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USA 2737 2380 USA players to watch during 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup 31839911 Landon Donovan Landon+Donovan USA

It took the LA Galaxy star the better part of a half-hour to find the game in his first United States appearance since Aug. 15, 2012. Once he found his stride, he tore a poor Guatemalan side apart. A clever run drew the foul that led to a cheeky penalty for his half-century (one of four CONCACAF players to hit that mark). And his sumptuous finish from an inviting Stuart Holden service underscored his influence on the night.

 

If Donovan can hit those heights when the competitive matches start, then the Americans harbor a genuine chance of overtaking Mexico and winning the title.
 

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USA 2737 2380 USA players to watch during 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup 31841852 Herculez Gomez Herculez+Gomez USA

Klinsmann trusted Gómez to lead the line in his 4-2-3-1 setup and the Club Tijuana repaid him with a typically industrious effort. His constant movement created space for others and provided options in the wide areas after inside-out runs, while his selfless toil ultimately yielded the opening goal three minutes before halftime. Similar contributions inside the penalty area during the Gold Cup will make him a certain starter as the tournament progresses.

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USA 2737 2380 USA players to watch during 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup 31839910 DaMarcus Beasley DaMarcus+Beasley USA

Beasley continued his recent international revival by earning the armband ahead of the Gold Cup. He validated that faith by submitting an assured and enterprising performance at left back against Guatemala. The Puebla winger naturally provided plenty of width on the overlap, but he also supplied some much needed support as Clarence Goodson and Oguchi Onyewu stumbled in possession during the early stages.

 

The decision to hand him the captaincy likely indicates he will assume a regular place in the team for the Gold Cup. In this sort of form, Beasley can provide plenty to a side that will need his support on the left side of the field.
 

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USA 2737 2380 USA players to watch during 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup 31841853 Joe Corona Joe+Corona USA

Klinsmann opted to deploy the Club Tijuana midfielder in a central role at the start of this encounter. His scant influence in the ragged early stages prompted a formation switch (4-4-2) and a switch out to the right side. He participated more frequently in that spot by drawing a couple of fouls and surging into the penalty area at the right times.

 

Corona deserves the chance he received against Guatemala, but he must do more with those sorts of opportunities in order to warrant his continued inclusion in the starting XI.
 

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USA 2737 2380 USA players to watch during 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup 31841854 Stuart Holden Stuart+Holden USA

Holden entered the game with the result well and truly sorted, but his performance still turned heads. His service over short and long distance opened avenues Kyle Beckerman and José Francisco Torres simply could not create in the first half. And his sumptuous feed over the top of four Guatemalan defenders for Donovan's second goal issued a stirring reminder of his quality.

 

Klinsmann will have to ration Holden's minutes wisely as he continues to work his way back into form, but he can inject that extra bit of quality if used properly during the course of the tournament.
 

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