USMNT stockwatch: Brandon Vazquez moves in the right direction as Jesus Ferreira struggles in Gold Cup opener

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By Webdesk

While the Gold Cup is a tricky tournament that takes place in the heat of summer, just when the United States’ European players need a break, a 1-1 draw with Jamaica on Saturday shows just how hard it is to win in Concacaf. Damion Lowe’s goal was canceled out by Brandon Vazquez’s contribution from the bench, but depending on the goals scored the rest of the way, it could be enough to see Jamaica win Group A. There is time for the United States to recover, but with the Gold Cup a proving ground ahead, who has improved their supply or possibly hurt their chances?

With the USMNT improving after the addition of Folarin Balogun, places in the starting lineup are few and far between, so good performances from this tournament can go a long way. This is our latest stock overview:

Stock down: Jesus Ferreira as striker

It’s not that Ferreira played a bad game as he did create chances that USMNT players couldn’t capitalize on, but putting him on the field without a clear goalscorer can’t keep happening. With the national team, Ferrerira has become more of a supporting striker or a number 10 behind someone like Vazquez to create space for others to score. Although Ferreira can shoot, he is better at creating space for others to score than he is at creating his own goal. Strikers creating their own space has been one of the biggest breath of fresh air with the inclusion of Balogun in the squad. He can twist and twist his body to fire shots in a way other strikers can’t.

Stock up: Brandon Vazquez

Speaking of strikers, the ability to be in the right place at the right time is crucial and that’s exactly what Vazquez did to score his goal. Scoring his second goal for the USMNT, it feels like the pecking order of strikers is becoming clear. The group of four consists of Balogun, Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargent and Vazquez. Vazquez scores goals with ease and has a more physical profile than some of the other forwards in the group. If he continues his form at both club and country, it could be quite difficult for another striker to break above them.

Stock down: Alan Sonora

Right place, wrong result was the story of Sonora’s night, as his position sense was good, but he was unable to take advantage of Jamaica’s aggressive defense to make things happen. Sonora’s experience with the national team is sporadic and it’s hard to read too much into it, but with Gio Reyna, Brenden Aaronson and others ahead of him in the pecking order, Sonora will have to improve to stay with the senior team.

Stock up: Djordje Mihailovic

The game changed with the introduction of three players: the named Vazquez, Cristian Roldan, who plays a fairly regular role as a tweener with the national team and Mihailovic, whose star is rising day by day. Mihailovic is about to make the World Cup selection and is having an excellent season at AZ Alkmaar. He is a versatile midfielder who can both create and seize chances. With the evolution of the midfield to become more flexible, Mihailovic has a lot to gain there as his influence will only grow.

Stock up: Jalen Neal

Neal, a young defender, had a tough assignment as he came into the half only to tangle with Mikhail Antonio and he did quite well. Jamaica’s first half offensive threat against Matt Miazga and Aaron Long was almost neutralized in a second half where the Reggae Boyz took just one shot. Part of that was due to adjustments from BJ Callaghan, but a lot was due to Neal’s mobility. Even when Antonio got the ball in the air, the defense stayed with him and a deep centre-back only gets deeper when a 19-year-old can come off the bench and measure up to a Premier League striker.

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