As a reminder of what is on the line here in the Gold Cup. Outside of winning the Gold Cup and being the Concacaf Champion, the winner of the 2015 Gold Cup will play the winner of the 2013 Gold Cup (USA) for a berth in the Confederations Cup in Russia 2017.
In addition the Gold Cup is the de facto first stage of qualifying for 2016 Copa América Centenario. USA (automatic qualifier and potential host), Mexico (automatic qualifier), Jamaica (2014 Caribbean Cup winners) and Costa Rica (2014 Copa Centroamericana winners) have already qualified for the tournament. The next four teams from the Gold Cup will enter a playoff for the last two spots in the 2016 Copa América Centenario. There is still some doubt as to if the tournament is going to take place, but if it does go through then the qualifying mechanism expects to be unchanged.
Gold Cup Group A standings after 1st round: USA 3 pts +1 Goal Differential Haiti 1 pt 0 GD Panama 1 pt 0 GD Honduras 0 pts -1 GD— Chris Tobin (@C_Tobin) July 10, 2015
Honduras (FIFA Rank: 80) v Panama (62)
In matchday 1, Honduras played extremely well against a heavily favored USMNT and carried a big portion of the play. Then Dempsey scored on two set pieces and the USA won the game 2-1. Andy Najar might have been the best player on the field and the Anderlecht player will look to shine against Panama. Honduras will be highly favored in their final group game against Haiti, this match is essentially for second place in the group.
Panama looked to have three points against Haiti on Tuesday night with a 55th minute goal from Alberto Quintero, but they decided to sit back and defend that one goal lead instead of netting a second. Haiti made them pay with an 85th minute goal from substitute Duckens Nazon. Nazon was only subbed on in the 78th minute and paid immediate dividends. Panama have high expectation for this Gold Cup after knocking out Mexico in 2013 en route to losing the final 1-0 to the USA.
USA (34) v Haiti (79)
The USMNT did not look great against Honduras in the opener, but the win was secured with a brace from Clint Dempsey off of two set pieces. Michael Bradley earned his 100th cap in that match. The USA hopes to be following the path laid out by the World Champion USWNT and win ugly early while growing into the tournament as it progresses.
DeAndre Yedlin earned the start against Honduras as a right midfielder with Timothy Chandler the presumed starter at right back for Jurgen Klinsmann. However Chandler was so poor on the night, Klinsmann brought Brad Evans in at right back at halftime to stabilize the defense. Yedlin and Evans combined to solidify the right side of the field in the second half. Does Klinsmann give Chandler yet another chance to carry his quality Bundesliga form over to the national team? Or do either Evans or Yedlin get a shot from the start?
Will Klinsmann stay with the youth movement in the second match? Ventura Alvarado was cap tied to the USA with the start, the Club America center back had a few shaky moments but showed promise. With Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream on the bench, there are more experienced options for Klinsmann at center back if his only goal was to lock in Alvarado. Yedlin and Zardes manned the wings while presumed starter Alejandro Bedoya is struggling with fitness after having a late season knee injury with club side Nantes that kept him out of the Germany and Netherlands wins.
The game is being played on temporary grass laid over field turf at Gillette stadium, home of the New England Revolution, if the fitness staff is at all worried about players like Jozy Altidore and Bedoya recovering from injuries expect to see a cautious approach.
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