CONCACAF Gold Cup Preview: Can the US Repeat?


With the recent announcement of the 23 man roster that will compete in next month’s Gold Cup, the question now becomes can the United States repeat and earn a berth into the Confederations Cup?

In the last edition of the Gold Cup, held two years ago, the US won the competition with very little difficulty. This was because the competition was held in the midst of World Cup Qualifying, and teams were made up of largely “B” caliber players, obviously with a few exceptions. Jurgen Klinsmann’s side finished top of the group with 9 points, a bombardment of Chris Wondolowski goals, and a flourishing Landon Donovan en route to blowout knockout round wins against El Salvador and Honduras and a penultimate Brek Shea goal late against Panama to give the Yanks their 5th Cup.

For this year’s competition, the USMNT are in Group A, which is arguably the toughest group of the tournament with Panama, Honduras, and Haiti. Granted, this isn’t a “Group of Death” by any means, but as far as CONCACAF competition goes, it’s not the easiest. Nevertheless, the USA should get through the group, with a first place finish easily achievable. The US will also be favorites to win the tournament regardless of the draw in the knockout stages. The US has dominated the rivalry with Mexico of late, and El Tri have struggled with other regional competition as well; although it is usually expected that Mexico will be favorites to play for the title, they could find themselves going home early as they did two years ago, leaving a clear path for the US to win their 6th Cup.

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This US squad is as close to full strength that we have seen so far this year, with the usual veterans like Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and captain Clint Dempsey, and also has returning World Cup stars like DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson. Klinsmann’s side should come out in form and scoring goals with the firepower on the roster.

As far as key players go for the USMNT in the tournament, all eyes will be on Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore, albeit for different reasons. Bradley is the rock of the midfield, and is coming off dazzling showings against top European competition in the wins in Holland and Germany, and if he can continue his form from earlier this month, the US could be very dangerous going forward. Clint Dempsey has been in the spotlight of late for all the wrong reasons with his US Open Cup and MLS suspensions, and the Gold Cup will be a good way to turn the page on the referee incident for Captain America.

Jozy Altidore is on the mend from a hamstring injury that occurred last month during a match against New England, but returned back to the Toronto FC active roster a little over a few weeks ago. If Altidore is back in form since the injury, he can be the goalscoring threat we have seen of late with the national team. Altidore ability to play as a target forward with his back to goal is irreplaceable on this team, as seen in the World Cup, and thus, his fitness will need to hold up for the US to be at their very best.

In terms of players to watch for with the US campaign, Ventura Alvarado and Gyasi Zardes fit the bill. Alvarado has been a keynote of the first team this year, and with good reason. In his performance against Germany, his mistakes were minimal and he, along with John Brooks were crucial in keeping the Americans from going behind in the second half. Alvarado could get extended minutes in the tournament with the exclusion of Matt Besler from the roster, but will also depend on Omar Gonzalez’s performance in camp.

Gyasi Zardes scored his first international goal against Holland when he converted a cross from Fabian Johnson, but his presence in the team has been far more influential this year. His attacking prowess in the recent European friendlies was key to the US victories, and his play this year undoubtedly earned him a well deserved spot on the roster. Look for Zardes to play a part in the attack when he gets minutes in the group stage.

The USMNT kick off their Gold Cup campaign on July 7 against Honduras at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Jul 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; USA players celebrate their victory after the 2013 Gold Cup championship game against Panama at Soldier Field. USA won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; USA players celebrate their victory after the 2013 Gold Cup championship game against Panama at Soldier Field. USA won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /