Gold Cup Preview: Prodigal Son Returns

The last time Landon Donovan played for the United States was nearly 10 months ago, a dramatic victory over Mexico in a friendly at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.  Since that historic victory, Landon has suffered a few injuries and questioned his passion for the game, leading him to take a break from international soccer.  During Landon’s sabbatical from international play the United States have beaten the likes of Germany and Italy, but more importantly they find themselves at the top table for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying stage. 

The United States record is 10-3-4 while Donovan was away, leading many fans to believe it is wrong to call him up for the Gold Cup.  Donovan is currently the United States leader in goals (49) and assist (48). To leave him off the roster would have been detrimental to his, and the teams, World Cup chances.  Donovan is crucial if the Americans wish to make a run in the World Cup.

The Gold Cup is a perfect opportunity for both Donovan and Klinsmann to evaluate their current situations.  Donovan can display his once questioned “passion” for the game while Klinsmann uses the Gold Cup as a trial for Landon and other players. Klinsmann has been quoted as this is a chance for players to make their case before the final stretch of World Cup Qualifiers. Donovan will not be joined with the usual faces of the Men’s national team as this tournament will give other Americans a chance to earn their spot.  Familiar faces from MLS in particular, like Will Bruin, Herculez Gomez, Chris Wondolowski and Kyle Beckerman, along with Stuart Holden and Demarcus Beasley, will lead the Americans against their usual CONCACAF Rivals.

The Gold Cup squad will play a friendly vs. Guatemala in San Diego on Friday. Game time is 10pm and the match will be broadcast on NBC Sports. The teams’ last meeting came in the final group game of the Semifinal Round of World Cup Qualifying. With the 3-1 win on Oct. 16, 2012, the United States finished in first place and advanced to the Hexagonal while also eliminating Guatemala from the competition.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has indicated that the starting group that faces Guatemala will be considered the favorites to be the first XI for the Gold Cup, giving fans in San Diego the first look at the group that will lead the charge for the USA’s fifth confederation championship title. DaMarcus Beasley has been named the U.S. captain for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Competing in the tournament for the 12th time, the U.S. seeks its fifth confederation championship title. Play begins Sunday with a pair of games, between Canada and Martinique at 4:30 and Mexico vs Panama at 7pm. The Gold Cup TV Schedule includes every game, and can be found on my Soccer on TV page.

USA Gold Cup Schedule
Date, Time, Foe, TV, Location
July 9, 10 p.m., Belize, FOX Soccer, JELD-WEN Field Portland
July 13, 2:30 p.m., Cuba, FOX, Rio Tinto Stadium Utah
July 16, 7:00 p.m., Costa Rica, FOX Soccer, Rentschler Field East Hartford

Tournament format:

Three groups of four will play in a round robin format.  The top 2 teams from each group will advance to the next round, along with the best two of the three third place teams.  The United States finds itself in one of the easier brackets of the tournament featuring Costa Rica, Cuba, and Belize.  Unlike previous Gold Cup tournaments before the World Cup, this year’s Gold Cup winner will play the 2015 Gold Cup winner in a playoff to see which squad will advance to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.  Both the United States and Mexico will be eager to claim the Gold Cup trophy and gain momentum before the final World Cup qualifiers in the fall.

The 23-player final roster was selected from the original preliminary group of 35, as prescribed by the rules of competition. Following the completion of a team’s participation in the group phase, they have 24 hours to make up to four changes to the roster. These players must also come from the original 35-player list. More on the Roster

Goalkeepers: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)

Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla/MEX), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana/MEX), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga/SPA), Michael Orozco (Puebla/MEX), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg/GER)

Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya (Helsingborgs/SWE), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana/MEX), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg/NOR), Stuart Holden (Bolton/ENG), Jose Torres (Tigres/MEX)

Forwards: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Club Tijuana/MEX), John McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Mark Dorsey, SLSG SoccerMark Dorsey
Born and raised in St Louis. Played for Scott Gallagher for 9 years. Currently coaching the future total footballers of the world at Scott Gallagher. Proud supporter of Arsenal, USMNT, and Holland soccer. You can follow him on Twitter at @dorseyMZ.

Recent contributions include a look at US MNT Face Panama and Where Goes Jozy Altidore

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