Donovan says he’s feeling better, US eyes Gold Cup

A day after being routed by the World Cup champions, Clint

Dempsey and the Americans were eager for another challenge.

They won’t have to wait long.

The United States plays its Gold Cup opener Tuesday night

against Canada, meaning the Americans will have an immediate chance

to move on from Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Spain in an exhibition game.

The U.S. looked overmatched from the start against the

smooth-passing Spaniards, who won the World Cup last year and the

European title two years before that.

”It’s a little kick up the backside,” Dempsey said. ”Even

though it was a friendly, you never want to lose a game, especially

by four goals. Everybody’s going to be fired up for this first game

and making sure we take care of business.”

The Gold Cup is the premier event for CONCACAF, the federation

representing North and Central America and the Caribbean. The

tournament champion earns a spot in the Confederations Cup, an

important World Cup tuneup.

The U.S. opens against Canada at Detroit’s Ford Field, and the

Americans are expected to have Landon Donovan back for that game.

Donovan was on the practice field Sunday after missing the loss to

Spain with an undisclosed illness.

”I’m feeling better,” Donovan said. ”I haven’t properly

trained in a few days, so today was a little more difficult than a

normal training session. I was breathing pretty hard, but I feel

good, and I would expect I’ll be fine by Tuesday.”

Neither the Americans nor the Spaniards were at full strength

when they played Saturday in Foxborough, Mass. Dempsey, for

example, entered only as a second-half substitute for coach Bob

Bradley.

”It was a game for Bob to look at a number of different

players,” Dempsey said. ”I don’t think at one time we had our

strongest 11 on the field.”

Still, the loss was a resounding one. It was the first time the

U.S. had allowed three or more goals in the first half since a 4-1

loss to Denmark at the Rose Bowl in 1997.

It could have been even worse, but Spain had an early goal

disallowed for offside, then hit the crossbar moments later.

”They have that potential against any team in the world, so

it’s difficult to limit their chances,” Donovan said. ”We

certainly learned from it. We’ll watch tape a little bit and learn

from it, but the reality is, that’s done now. We’ve got to get what

we can out of the learning experience, but I promise you Canada

doesn’t care what happened against Spain.”

The U.S. last won the Gold Cup in 2007, earning a spot in the

2009 Confederations Cup, where the Americans stunned Spain before

nearly upsetting Brazil in the final.

In the 2009 Gold Cup, with far less at stake, the U.S. fielded

an inexperienced team and lost 5-0 to Mexico in the final.

The U.S. has never lost a group stage game in Gold Cup play.

After taking on Canada, the Americans head to Tampa, Fla., to face

Panama on Saturday night, then play Guadeloupe on June 14. The top

two teams in the group automatically advance to the

quarterfinals.

”What we always do is try to take a little bit from the last

game, but then quickly turn our attention to what comes next,”

Bradley said. ”In this case, we’ve all been looking forward to

getting started in the Gold Cup.”