Gold Cup’s Group C will be the most watched group. It includes the host nation, the United States, as well as Costa Rica, Cuba and Belize.
There will be some familiar faces pitted against each other and could be considered the strongest group in the competition with Costa Rica and the United States, both potential World Cup contestants and Gold Cup finalists. The games will be held in Portland, Sandy (Utah) and East Hartford. The United States will be counting on its home support during this competition and in a country where soccer’s stock is rising, expect stadiums to fill up.
Like many other nations, the US men’s national team will be focusing on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers and have sent a weakened team to the Gold Cup, which does not include Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley or Jozy Altidore. The US debated sending the full squad. However Klinsmann has been known to rotate his squads and wanted to include fringe players as well as give some of the more experienced players another chance.
Since losing to Honduras in the qualifiers back in February, the USMNT have won four and tied one, which has resulted in much praise for the under fire German manager. Although the US will be fielding a weakened team, many of the players have either been regular national team players at one point in their career, or have excelled at their club team in recent months.
Since Mexico have also decided to leave their stars at home, pressure will be mounting on the US to win the Gold Cup, a feat they have not achieved since 2007. The US players will also be eager to put on a good display in order to be picked for the US team competing in the World Cup qualifiers later on this year and hopefully make the final roster for Brazil 2014. There will be some great players on display, such as Stuart Holden, DaMarcus Beasley, and Ogucho Onyewu.
Players to Watch: It would be cliché to choose Landon Donovan, but he will certainly have to redeem himself for his diva-like behavior in the past six months. Love him or hate him, Donovan is a talented player and is en-route to become his country’s most capped player and the country’s top scorer. Although the coveted and disputed “best US-player” mantle has unequivocally been handed to Clint Dempsey in recent years, at 31, Donovan will play his last World Cup next year, and is desperate to make the final squad list.
After some scintillating displays by Jozy Altidore for the USMNT in the past few months, he has become the undisputed number one striker for the team. His pending move to Sunderland and goal scoring exploits in the Dutch League will make him the national team’s striker for the World Cup, a position Herculez Gomez would like to overtake. He hasn’t featured much for the US, but he offers them a different option up front. Plus his strength, as well as his hold up play, will work well with Donovan’s maneuverability.