After finishing top of Group A with seven points from three game, the US national team is all set to kick off the knockout rounds of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup when they face Cuba in the first of four quarterfinal matchups, Saturday in Baltimore, Md., (5 pm ET, FOX/Univision).
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The USMNT, who defeated Honduras and Haiti before drawing Panama in their group stage finale, is potentially just 270 minutes (barring extra time) from defending their 2013 Gold Cup title and booking their place in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. Another CONCACAF nation winning this edition of the Gold Cup would result in a one-game playoff to determine the region’s representative in the pre-World Cup tournament.
Meanwhile, beat Guatemala, 1-0, in their final group game to advance as third-place finishers in Group C. In their first two group games, Leones del Caribe (Lions of the Caribbean) lost to Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago by a combined score of 8-0.
Clint Dempsey leads the USMNT in goals scored thus far (three), with Michael Bradley (one) the only other goalscorer in the group stage. For Cuba, Maikel Reyes’ 73rd-minute strike against Guatemala was their only goal thus far in the tournament.
Since advancing from the group stage, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has made three changes to his 23-man roster. Out are Jozy Altidore, Greg Garza and Alfredo Morales; in are DaMarcus Beasley, Joe Corona and Alan Gordon. Defender John Brooks, who picked up two yellow cards during the group stage, will be suspended for Saturay’s game. Tim Ream is expected to start in his absence.
The last time these countries faced off in a competitive match was in the second game of group play at the 2013 Gold Cup, when the American were victorious by a score of 4-1, thanks to goals scored by Corona, Landon Donovan and Chris Wondolowski (two).
The winner of Saturday’s matchup between the US and Cuba will face the winner of Saturday’s second quarterfinal between Haiti and Jamaica (8 pm ET).