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Do the U.S. and Mexico care about the Gold Cup anymore?

Gold Cup
 By Arch Bell

Jamaica keeper Andre Blake, U.S.' Clint Dempsey headline Gold Cup Best XI

The 2017 Gold Cup is in the books, with the United States outlasting Jamaica 2-1 in the final, but which individual players stood out during the tournament? Here's a look at the the team of the tournament, which unsurprisingly is littered with players from finalists Jamaica and the U.S.

Andre Blake, GK, Jamaica -- Blake showed why he was named the 2016 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in leading the Reggae Boyz to the final. After ceding just one goal in the group stage to El Salvador, Blake was at his best in the 1-0 semifinal win over Mexico by making a number of reaction saves. It was an awful shame that he left the final injured. Nevertheless, Europe has to be calling soon.

Kemar Lawrence DF, Jamaica -- The hero of Jamaica's stunning semifinal win also enjoyed a very solid tournament at the left-back spot, frustrating opponents with his close-down speed. Costa Rica's Francisco Calvo was slightly better in the group stage, but Lawrence wins out thanks in part to his sensational free kick that sank El Tri.

Jermaine Taylor, DF, Jamaica -- After heading a ball off the goal line in a 0-0 draw against Mexico in the group stage, Taylor was back again tormenting El Tri in the semifinal and helping Jamaica secure that historic 1-0 win. He was just as good against the U.S. in the final. Unlucky that his attempted clearance deflected to Jordan Morris on the winner.

Giancarlo Gonzalez, DF, Costa Rica -- Outside of the final 20 minutes against the U.S., the Costa Rica defense enjoyed a very strong tournament. The aforementioned Calvo and center-back Johnny Acosta had strong performances, but Giancarlo Gonzalez was the best of the bunch. The Bologna man kept things clean and was strong in one-on-one situations.

Edson Alvarez, DF, Mexico -- The 19-year-old Club America defender was arguably Mexico's best player of the tournament. Alvarez locked down the right side of the Mexican defense and also proved to be a threat when going forward, evidenced by his goal in the 2-0 group stage win over Curacao. There's no reason why he can't be in the mix for a spot on the plane to Russia.

Michael Bradley, MF, United States -- Called in by head coach Bruce Arena for the knockout round, Bradley was an indispensable member of the U.S.'s run to the title. Whenever there was any sign of danger, Bradley was there, and his performance throughout the tournament shows he's in the midst of one of the best stretches of his national team career.

The United States' Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Jordan Morris all made ESPN FC's Gold Cup Best XI.

Jesus Duenas, MF, Mexico -- It was a pretty rough Gold Cup for Mexico, but Duenas was one of the few standouts. After leading the way in the group stage, the Tigres man set up Rodolfo Pizarro's winner in the quarterfinal (1-0) over Honduras, and was consistently Mexico's best man in possession. Like Alvarez, Duenas has made a strong case for inclusion in El Tri's World Cup squad.

Bryan Ruiz, MF, Costa Rica -- There really aren't any noticeable stats that pop up in Ruiz's favor, but the Sporting Lisbon midfielder was very good from start to finish. The Costa Rica attack came under a lot of scrutiny, but that certainly wasn't for Ruiz's lack of trying. Had Marco Urena been better with his finishing in the semifinal after Ruiz's gallop through the U.S. defense, things might have been different.

Alphonso Davies, FW, Canada -- Despite playing just four matches in the tournament, Davies' group stage display was enough to push him into the tournament's Best XI. The 16-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps player was rampant in the first match against French Guiana, scoring a brace in a 4-2 win. He followed that up with a powerful strike in the 1-1 draw against Costa Rica. There is a feeling of optimism around Canadian soccer for the first time in ages thanks in large part to Davies.

Clint Dempsey, FW, United States -- There was a cry of "No!" from a Costa Rican journalist in the press box of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, when Dempsey came on as a sub with the semifinal still locked at 0-0. That correspondent's worst fears were realized when Dempsey delivered an epic substitute's performance, tallying an assist and a goal in a 2-0 win. Let's also not forget that it was Dempsey who set the table for Eric Lichaj's strike against El Salvador.

Jordan Morris, FW, United States Morris had a pretty solid tournament, especially in the group stage. He recorded a brace in a tight 3-2 win over Martinique, and was inches away from scoring in the semifinal against Costa Rica, only to be denied by the post. While his defensive error did allow Jamaica to equalize in the final, he more than made up for it with the winner in the 88th minute, thereby earning a spot in my starting XI.

Arch Bell is based in Austin, Texas and covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell .


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