The USMNT has been the dominant force in CONCACAF for several years now. It won the 2021 Nations League and the 2021 Gold Cup. The squad successfully defended its Nations League title last week. Now, the USMNT must look to successfully defend the Gold Cup title. The trophy defense begins against Jamaica.

A much-revised squad

BJ Callaghan’s Gold Cup squad is quite different than the one that was called in for the Nations League. There are a few holdovers. But, the bulk of the roster is new. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of exciting talent, however. Overall, it’s a mix of veterans and youth.

Matt Turner is back in goal after posting two clean sheets against Mexico and Canada. The backline has stalwarts like DeAndre Yedlin, Aaron Long, and Miles Robinson but also newcomers like DeJuan Jones and John Tolkin. The midfield has Cristian Roldan plus young guys like Gianluca Busio, Alan Sonora, and Aidan Morris. Up top are the much-maligned strikers of Jesus Ferreira and Jordan Morris but also promising talents such as Cade Cowell and Alejandro Zendejas.

Since the US has automatically qualified for the 2026 World Cup as one of the host countries, there are no World Cup Qualifying games to prepare them. That places extra importance on this Gold Cup. With fewer competitive games, it makes the ones the US does have all that much more important. And winning this Gold Cup would further cement the USMNT as the premier power in CONCACAF.

Jamaica ready for USMNT in Gold Cup opener.

The Reggae Boyz have been having a rough go of it lately. Coming into this Gold Cup they are winless in their last ten games. In fact, they have won just two games in the last 20 months. So in September 2022, they appointed Heimir Hallgrimsson as manager. Hallgrimsson was the man who managed Iceland during the miracle run to the quarter-finals at Euro 2016 and then guided them to qualify for the World Cup in 2018.

The roster called up by Hallgrimsson features several players from American clubs. Goalkeeper Andre Blake is the captain and plays for the Philadelphia Union and backup goalkeeper Jahmali White is the shotstopper for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Midfielder Kevon Lambert plays for the Phoenix Rising in the USL Championship. And forward Cory Burke plays for the New York Red Bulls.

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Watch the Gold Cup opener

Kickoff for the Gold Cup contest between Jamaica and the USMNT is just after 10 p.m. on Saturday. The game is at Soldier Field, the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. Coverage of the game is on FS1. John Strong and Stu Holden are the commentator pair for that game.

PHOTO: IMAGO & Agencia-MexSport