The US national team begins its CONCACAF Gold Cup title defense in just five days, but first they’ll undergo one final dress rehearsal ahead of the big dance when they take Guatemala at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium on Friday.
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The roster from which Jurgen Klinsmann will pick his final pre-2015 Gold Cup team is exactly the same as the Gold Cup roster announced last week, which features the likes of Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and new USMNT captain (for the Gold Cup, at least) Michael Bradley.
The two sides met in an identical situation two years ago, when the Yanks hammered Guatemala to the tune of 6-0 in their final warm-up game before their title-winning campaign in the 2013 Gold Cup.
Klinsmann knows this month’s tournament is a must win for the USMNT program, which hopes to return to the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017, a year ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Klinsmann, on the demand to win the Gold Cup, from USSoccer.com:
“The message to the team is very straightforward: We are under the expectations of winning this tournament. Even if we know that teams like Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico all are very good teams and can also beat us, you’ve got to be on top of things. You’ve got to be very disciplined, you’ve got to be focused and in a CONCACAF tournament, you’ve got to be patient.
“We expect most of the teams to play against us in a very defensive style. It’s not going to be an open game like in a World Cup where you have the best teams in the world and they just go at you. In most of our games in the Gold Cup, it’s going to be the opposite. They’re going to defend first of all and then hope for a counter break or for a set piece to score against us.”
The USMNT comes into Friday’s friendly after a pair of fantastic results in Europe two weeks ago — come-from-behind victories over the Netherlands and Germany — while Guatemala are fresh off of a 1-0 aggregate victory over Bermuda in 2018 World Cup qualifying.
While a victory would do the USMNT’s confidence good ahead of their Gold Cup opener against Honduras on July 7, simply avoiding any serious injuries — like those of Mexico Hector Moreno and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez this past week — and reaching peak game sharpness are the clear No. 1 and 1a objectives on Friday.
|Zardes, Dempsey, Yedlin|
|Chandler, Gonzalez, Brooks, Johnson|