Wednesday June 8th, 2011

DETROIT -- Three thoughts after the U.S.'s 2-0 win over Canada in their opening game in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Tuesday:

• Jozy Altidore started moving in the right direction again. The 21-year-old U.S. striker has taken some heat for his lack of production, but he'll gain some much-needed confidence after scoring the opener for the U.S. (aided by a howler from Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld) and sending in a dagger of a cross that Clint Dempsey finished for the Americans' second goal. Altidore still has a ways to go when it comes to limiting frustration fouls and giving maximum effort for 90 minutes, but this game was a step forward for him when he absolutely needed it. He looked hungrier in this game than he did against Spain on Saturday, and he combined well with the U.S.'s other attackers. There's no reason Altidore can't bag a few more goals in this tournament.

• Dempsey = crowd pleaser. The man called Deuce scored his 20th international goal on Tuesday, a classy sliding finish that sunk the Canadians, and yet his most eye-popping play might not even appear on the SportsCenter highlights. Just two minutes before the goal, Dempsey tried a rare scorpion kick, flicking up his heels in the air to redirect a cross that was behind him. The absurdly audacious shot might have gone in had it not been blocked, and it would no doubt have been the best goal ever scored by a U.S. player. But the point is that Dempsey had the cojones to even try such a play, and I can't imagine any other U.S. players who would have. Fresh off his best season in England as Fulham's player of the year, Dempsey is an absolute treat to watch.

• These temporary grass fields need to go. For the second time in four days, the U.S. had to play on an embarrassingly bad (even potentially dangerous) temporary sod that was laid over an artificial turf surface. With any luck it would never happen again. Time and again, players on both sides dislodged chunks of turf like divots on a cheap goat-track golf course. If having to play MLS games on a wet and terrible fake surface in Seattle was bad enough, playing on the slow and bounceless grass here was equally wrong. How are we supposed to take these tournaments seriously when the organizers can't even get the playing surface right?

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.