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.
As a bonus, Fox Sports 1 is revealing the first portion of the MLS All-Star roster at halftime of the USA v Panama game.
Honduras (FIFA Rank 80) v Haiti (79)
Honduras and Haiti both suffered close one goal losses to the USA while drawing with Panama in their first two matches. In case of a draw, Honduras would finish ahead of Haiti on goals scored. If Panama loses to the USMNT by more than one goal, then the winner here or Honduras in the case of a draw would finish second.
There is a small chance that the winner of this game does not advance with 4 points. But Panama would have to beat the USA then the winner here would have to be the worst of three third place teams based on tiebreakers if the other two groups also have their third place teams finish on four points.
Keep in mind that this game will be played in the sweltering 4 PM Kansas City heat. This is each team's third game in seven days playing Tuesday in Dallas, Friday in Boston and Monday in Kansas City. Depth will be severely tested. The official weather forecast for kickoff is 98 degrees with a Feels Like rating of 110.
USA (34) v Panama (62)
With the group already won and Saturday's Quarterfinal tickets booked for Baltimore, look for Jurgen Klinsmann to rotate some players. Alejandro Bedoya will likely make his 2015 Gold Cup debut after being kept out for fitness concerns. This would be a perfect match to cap tie a few players but on the team only William Yarbrough and Alfredo Morales are not cap tied to the USA. Yarbrough is backing up both Brad Guzan and Nick Rimando, so if he plays it is mostly just to formalize the commitment as he is still down the goalkeeper order. Guzan finished the season at Aston Villa on the bench and could likely use the games. Morales has had some interest from Peru, look for the German born player with Peruvian and American national team options to become cap-tied today and end that speculation.
The team has gone on the record saying that they want to win this game. They think it is only fair to their fellow Group A participants to put forth the best effort. The USA has still never lost a group stage game in the Gold Cup under the current format. While Panama gets a scheduling break, this will still be a hungry USA team fighting for places on the team for the knockout rounds.
Klinsmann rotated the entire back four between the Honduras and Haiti game, Brad Evans got the start and went 90 minutes for the USA after playing 45 minutes as a substitute in the opener. Clint Dempsey has all three goals in the tournament for the USMNT, he might feel that he is in good form and not want to break the rhythm. And Sounders academy graduate and Tottenham Hotspur player DeAndre Yedlin is fresh after playing 90 minutes in the opener but being an unused sub in the second match. Only Dempsey, Guzan and Michael Bradley have played all 180 minutes available.
How to Watch:
This is your Gold Cup open gamethread. Watch with us.