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.
Qualified: 3rd Place, Copa Centroamericana
Head Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez
The Canal Men were a bit of a surprise in getting past Mexico in the 2013 Semifinals and ultimately provided a stern test for the Americans. While they weren’t able to secure the ultimate victory, they displayed a bravado that carried them deep into World Cup qualifying, only to have a couple of costly goals against cost them a trip to Brazil.
A physical team with good speed down the wings, it’s tough to see Panama enjoying the same suc cess this time. Still they should earn a spot in the quarterfinals if they can play either the US or Honduras tough.
Player to Watch: Blas Perez
The big target forward is still the most dangerous man for Panama, despite the fact the F.C. Dallas striker is well into his 30’s now. His physical presence and clinical finishing causes opposing center backs to take notice, opening up room for Luis Tejada or Gabriel Torres to attack. Either way, you can’t fall asleep on the Panamanians because they can make you pay quickly.
Qualified: 5th Place Playoff, defeated French Guiana
Head Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto
Yet another tough team in Group A, Honduras comes into this Gold Cup on the heels of a disappointing World Cup where they failed to grab even a point in a tough Group E. They will certainly be looking to reassert themselves as a CONCACAF power.
This time, they will have to do it without Roger Espinoza, who withdrew himself from the squad due to mental and physical fatigue. They’re typically a hard-working, physically demanding, defensive team. Without Jerry Bengtson and Carlo Costly to pick up the goals, the big question is who will pick up the slack.