Goal.com's newest feature has a group of editors rating the player performances in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.The editors on hand to kick off the first edition of the Roundtable were Chief Editor Andrea Canales, Associate Editors Shane Evans, Zac Lee Rigg and Allen Ramsey, and Mexico Editor Luis Bueno.
Andrea Canales: Ok, so, who were the best performers in the CONCACAF Hexagonal? I'd have to say that Giovani Dos Santos was pretty impressive - best of the young guys, for me.
Zac Lee Rigg: I'll get it in before that fanboy Shane does: Landon Donovan makes the difference for the U.S.
Shane Evans: Ha
Canales: Dos Santos didn't start that well, muffing chances for Mexico against the USA in Columbus, but the Gold Cup gave him a huge boost of confidence, and he came on strong at the end. The performance against Costa Rica was especially notable.
Luis Bueno: I'd have to say Landon Donovan was the biggest contributor to any team. Landon was there from the start, scored his share of important goals and also helped set up several other important goals.
Hands down, he's the best player in CONCACAF right now.
Canales: LD seems to have gotten over his inconsistency, which was pretty much the only thing holding him back before.
Rigg: Even in his quiet games, he made crucial assists or set pieces that contributed to points.
Canales: It's actually hard to pick a top LD game, because he had so many good ones.
Bueno: To me, his performance against El Salvador in Salt Lake was critical for the U.S. El Salvador was hoping to steal a 1-0 win and went ahead but Donovan was clutch in helping generate the attack in those games.
Rigg: Looking at other teams, Carlo Costly did the business for Honduras. He's not as well known as David Suazo or Carlos Pavon, but he was involved much more. If Honduras make the World Cup, it'll be down to him. In particular, he put on an electric performance as Honduras crushed Costa Rica 4-0 at home.
Canales: I remember that game - Costly was almost unstoppable. I'm actually looking for more from El Salvador in the future, too. They really scrapped well in the Hex and I think the addition of Arturo Alvarez has made them more dynamic.
Bueno: El Salvador has grown a lot and could be strong, but they have to hold onto Carlos de los Cobos. He's made all the difference, and without him I don't see El Salvador reaching the Hex in 2013.
Canales: Yeah, I have a feeling some Mexican club team will try to lure him back home with a big contract.
Bueno: Well, he was asked about returning to Mexico to coach but he's not really in with any of the club owners so he'd have a hard time returning, believe it or not. You get the same recycled coaches in Mexico, because they are all part of the old boys network or whatever. Still, El Salvador were impressive in moments but definitely have room to improve.
Evans: I'll go ahead and say Tim Howard for my top CONCACAF player.
Canales: "El Pato" did keep the US in games where their defense was otherwise shaky.
Allen Ramsey: I'd say you have to add Carlos Edwards for me. He was crucial for T&T the entire Hex. Look, the guy plays on a team that was horrible during the hex, but he was great.
Not even the top players in Mexico and the U.S. want to deal with that guy when he gets a full head of steam going forward. In separate games he made Beasley and Lando look like they were standing still.
Canales: We haven't even mentioned Costa Rica, but they did start the Hex in great form.
Bueno: Celso Borges was a monster for them when they were doing well.
Canales: Then he got injured, right?
Bueno: Losing Walter Centeno for the Mexico game, though, was huge and shows how strong he was as well.
Rigg: Agreed, Borges has really come into his own as a player and can dominate matches.
Bueno: Yes, Borges was hurt too. But he's young and will be around for a couple more cycles anyway.
Canales: It's Trinidad and Tobago who seem to be lacking young stars right now. Dwight Yorke - his expiration date is up.
Bueno: I was just thinking earlier how far Trinidad fell off from 2005. I don't see them returning to the Hex in four years, not with teams like Jamaica and Canada ready to make a run to the Hex.
Ramsey: I'll bet if you went around and asked the other five managers who they would pick as the player from T&T they most feared was, they'd say Edwards or Kenwyne Jones.
Canales: Yeah, I definitely see Canada in the next Hex.
Bueno: Both Jamaica and Canada just got the short end of the stick in the semifinal round.
Canales: The Hex seemed so wide open early on, with Costa Rica at the top, but now it's reverted to form - USA and Mexico on top: I really think it was the depth of both squads that made the difference.
Players get injured, and smaller countries just couldn't compensate well enough.
Bueno: Those are the only two teams who have been able to take care of business at home. Honduras, I thought, had gotten past their days of choking big games away at home, but they reverted back to their old selves. Honduras blew it twice, check that, Carlos Pavon blew it twice. He had a free header in the 90th minute at Mexico that could have helped salvage a point, then his wretched misses against the U.S.
Canales: If your life was on the line and you had to pick a CONCACAF player to take a PK to save you, who would it be?
Evans: Kenwyne Jones
Rigg: In goal it would be Tim Howard.
Canales: In goal is not the question.
Rigg: But if it were the question, I would have answered it.
Bueno: If my life was on the line... since I first interviewed him when he was 16, I'd hope he'd put a little something extra on it for me, so I'd have to say Landon Donovan. Although Cuauhtemoc is pretty clinical in his PKs as well.
Rigg: Ah, Temoc, how have we not brought him up yet? Rapidly approaching his 50th birthday and still showing those kids and their rock music how it's done.
Canales: Shane, Kenwyne would probably steal the PK even if you didn't pick him.
Ramsey: I think Landon would steal the Pk
Canales: To save Shane? Maybe not.
Evans: I'm telling ya, Jones has ice in his veins.
Canales: To go with his thieving heart. And Temoc - Bruce Arena is a big fan these days. Less so in 2002, I'm sure.
Bueno: The one thing about Blanco, and this obviously has nothing to do with him per se, is that I'm a little worried about Mexico relying so much on a 36-year-old.
Canales: Luis, he's Mexico's Zidane. Although will hopefully be less insane at the World Cup.
Bueno: Yes, hopefully. But that's my point. Zidane retired, and now France is struggling to qualify for the World Cup.
Check back another week for the next edition of the Editors' Roundtable!
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