31215_isi_goldcup_usmntra072813175 Robin Alam/isiphotos.com
2015 Gold Cup

U.S. Draws Panama, Haiti, Mystery Foe in Gold Cup

The Yanks will be favorites to win their group at this summer's Gold Cup, and with a guaranteed trip to the Confederations Cup on the line, expect Jurgen Klinsmann to assemble a formidable squad.
BY Brooke Tunstall Posted
March 12, 2015
7:32 PM
OVER THE 25-YEAR HISTORY of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the biennial championship for North and Central America and the Caribbean, only one county has ever beaten the United States national team in group play.

And as luck would have it, that one team—Panama—was drawn into Group A alongside the U.S. and will square off with the Yanks this summer in the 2015 tournament. The U.S. will also faces Haiti, one of two national teams to have ever gotten a draw with the U.S. in Gold Cup group play, and the winner of a play-in game between Honduras and French Guiana.

“Right away it puts you on your toes and you have to start the competition focused, concentrated, and determined from the first game on,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “Having Panama in there—who we played the final against in the last Gold Cup—and most likely Honduras are very strong teams. We also have a close look at Haiti.”

The U.S. is scheduled to begin Gold Cup play July 7 in Frisco, Texas, probably against Honduras, a 2014 World Cup participant. Three days later the U.S. faces Haiti, which tied the U.S. 2-2 in 2009, in Foxboro, Mass. And July 13 it will square off against the Panamanians in Kansas City, Kan.

All matches are doubleheaders. The rest of the draw is available here.

The Americans also may have an early July tune-up match against Australia, the reigning Asian champions, but the rumored match has yet to be confirmed by U.S. Soccer.

During past tournaments the U.S. often has experimented with its roster during the Gold Cup. Klinsmann, however, has said that winning this year’s tournament is a top priority and he is expected to bring as close to his A-team as possible to the event.

The U. S. won the 2015 Gold Cup and a win this year would ensure the team a spot in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia—a high-profile World Cup dress rehearsal. If the U.S. fails to win this year it will face a home-and-home playoff with this year’s champion, with a Confed Cup slot on the line

“We badly want to win this tournament because we want to qualify for Russia 2017,” Klinsmann said. “This is huge to us. The best way to do this is to win this summer so we avoid a playoff game in October.”

Mexico has won the Gold Cup six times, one more than the U.S., with Canada’s surprise victory in 2000 the only time another country has claimed the CONCACAF crown.

Other than the Panama game in 2011 and various losses to El Tri, the U.S. has only fallen to South American countries playing as guest countries in the tournament. Brazil beat the Americans in the semifinals in 1998 and 2003 while Colombia eliminated the U.S. in penalty kicks following a tie in the 2000 quarterfinals.

As for this year’s opponents, that loss to Panama in 2011 is the only time the U.S. failed to beat them, going 12-1-2 all-time according to FIFA.com. Against Haiti, which was a regional power in the 1960s and 70s, the U.S. is 5-6-5 all time (with all the losses coming 35-plus years ago). The Americans are 14-4-4 versus Honduras.

Depending on where teams finish in group play, the quarterfinals will be held either in Baltimore or East Rutherford, N. J. The semifinals will be held in Atlanta and the final is set for July 26 in Philadelphia.

Brooke Tunstall is an American Soccer Now contributing editor and ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.

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