Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Camp Cupcake" Wins Two

Last night the US Soccer's "Camp Cupcake" Team followed up Saturday night's 1-0 win over Venezuela with a 1-0 win over Panama. I admit that the "Camp Cupcake" moniker is not my favorite for the annual US Soccer winter camp that primarily gives numerous MLS players and some European journeymen an extended audition for the US National Team, but I think it's important to use this moniker in light of the apparent "every match is a live or die match" attitude that seems to dominate the most vocal of the US Soccer fan base.

My favorite comment last night though came from outside that extreme portion of the US fan base, and is a comment that best sums up the whole concept of Camp Cupcake:

While it was nice that Ricardo Clark managed to pick up a late goal to beat Venezuela and while it was nice that the team managed to maintain the early lead that Graham Zusi's goal gave them against Panama, despite going down to ten men for over 35 minutes, the important thing about these matches and the winter camp in general is that they gave US Coach J├╝rgen Klinsmann and his coaching staff a rare opportunity to work directly with players who caught their eye and then evaluate these players when they're tossed into the semi-deep portion of the USMNT pool.

The primary thing that I take from the fact that both of these matches were victories is that there is finally a glimmer of potential USMNT roster depth. The Venezuela and Panama squads, while clearly not the best in the world, contain enough talent to provide tests for a large number of American players who, if called up for meaningful matches, would spend a substantial amount of time on the bench; therefore, the fact that these raggedy squads of players straight out of off season break managed to pull off these two, rather ugly, victories is a testament to the slow but surely improving world of American soccer.

Even if the team had lost both of these matches, I still think the 2012 Camp Cupcake would have been a success in that we are not getting a sense of the core second team, and potential future first team, that is developing in this new chapter of US Soccer history. Many US Soccer fans might not have recognized the team that played these last two matches, but in the next couple years some of the players on the 2012 Camp Cupcake team will become regular fixtures in US kits.

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