While the Gold Cup is starting a month later than usual, the meaning for this confederation remains the same: who is the big dog between Mexico and the United States.
Maybe the other nations in this region will feel aggrieved by that statement, but the results are clear. Since the tournament’s inception, Canada (in the year 2000) is the only other nation to have hoisted the Cup. It has been an entertaining biennial undercard for the ultimate grudge-match in World Cup qualifying.
It’s also an odd tournament in the regard of being the only major region in FIFA that doesn’t rotate the competition’s host nation. It’s quite convenient that the United States is money-flush as well as the type of melting pot that allows all nations to represent very well at their matches. This is evidenced by Mexico having the home-crowd feeling when they face the Americans in this tournament.
In this edition of the Gold Cup, Canada has been granted a partial home status, as Group B will play one match date at BMO Field in Toronto.
Let’s dive into the Groups to see what’s in store once the tournament kicks off on July 7th in suburban Dallas.
SEE MORE — Check out the Gold Cup TV schedule for viewers in US.
July 7th (Frisco, TX); July 10 (Foxborough, MA); July 13 (Kansas City, KS)
Qualified: Automatic/Host Nation
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
The Red, White, and Blue come into the tournament on quite a high. Defeats of the Dutch and Germans on European soil earlier this month have provided some hope that Jurgen Klinsmann hasn’t lost the plot completely.
The US is still trying to forge its style and identity in the post-Landon Donovan era. It was a fast four years between the “Go Go USA” goal in South Africa and being snubbed for Brazil. And just like that, America’s most beloved (and perhaps best ever) player was a part of history.
The team never really got past that in Brazil. Yes, they advanced to the knockouts. Yes, they gave Belgium all they could handle. But a country expecting to see evolution out of Klinsmann’s tenure has seen the German legend to resort to pragmatism against the best teams in the world. It just so happens that those tactics often work in the blood-and-cleats nature of CONCACAF, as well.
In 2013’s Gold Cup, Donovan scored 5 goals in carrying the US to being Champions. This time the onus will be on Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley to fill the leadership void left by the long time talisman.
There is also the question of offensive output, which was somewhat lacking in Brazil. There will be eyes on Jozy Altidore and Aron Johannsson to see which of these two forwards can step up and be reliable in international matches.
Player To Watch: Michael Bradley
The Toronto FC midfielder is in the midst of his prime, and is the type of two-way player that can take over a tournament like this. Klinsmann has viewed Bradley as an advanced midfielder at times, something that hasn’t always suit his style of play. But he will need to find his form in this relatively difficult group.