Gold Cup

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USMNT learns Gold Cup group stage opponents

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The United States men’s national team gets its a formal chance to take a measure of vengeance against the two teams which knocked it out of the last round of World Cup qualifying.

Trinidad and Tobago, of course, is the nation whose B-teamers beat the USMNT in Couva, allowing Panama to clinch a World Cup berth via a ghost goal.

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The Yanks will also meet Guyana in the first Group D match, which will be June 18 at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota.

It’ll be T&T versus the U.S. in Cleveland four days later, before the Yanks wrap up group play with Panama in Kansas City on June 26.

That’s about the only good news, as the Yanks are in arguably the toughest group of the bunch (though they should surely advance to the knockout rounds as a top seed).

Group C is also tough, with El Salvador joining Jamaica, Honduras, and Curacao.

Group B sees Costa Rica drawn with Haiti, Nicaragua, and Bermuda.

Group A is a great draw for Mexico and Canada, who will have to get past Martinique and Cuba.

CONCACAF Gold Cup matches to be played in Kingston, Jamaica

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MIAMI (AP) The CONCACAF Gold Cup will be played in the Caribbean for the first time when a group-stage doubleheader takes place on June 17 in Kingston, Jamaica.

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The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said Tuesday that Jamaica will join Honduras in Group C, which also plays in Houston on June 21 and Los Angeles on June 25.

CONCACAF plans to announce the full schedule on June 10. The United States opens on June 18 at St. Paul, Minnesota, plays four days later in Cleveland and finishes the first round on June 26 at Kansas City, Kansas. Semifinals are July 2 at Glendale, Arizona, and the following day at Nashville, Tennessee. The final is July 7 at Chicago.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

3 keys for USMNT vs. Nicaragua

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The U.S. Men’s National Team survived disaster Wednesday night with their 3-2 win over Martinique.

But the performance left much to be desired, and Bruce Arena will again need to tinker with his lineup and tactics to find a more consistent winning formula from this squad of 23 players ahead of Saturday’s match in Cleveland against Nicaragua.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

With a number of the starters resting, the U.S. starting eleven against Martinique looked and played like a team that didn’t have a lot of chemistry together, and it really took until the second half to start finding their flow in the attacking third of the field.

On the other end, centerbacks Omar Gonzalez and Matt Hedges and goalkeeper Brad Guzan each had forgettable moments against a team without a heralded set of players, other than Kevin Parsemain.

Here’s a look at three keys to victory for the USMNT when they face Nicaragua:

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CONCACAF rules French Guiana draw a forfeit, bans Malouda

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CONCACAF came out with a strong response early Friday morning to French Guiana’s decision to break the rules and play Florent Malouda Tuesday evening in the Gold Cup.

The CONCACAF disciplinary committee announced that the match between French Guiana and Honduras, which finished as a scoreless draw on the night, would be forfeited by French Guiana, awarding Honduras a 3-0 result.

In addition, French Guiana was fined an undisclosed amount and the 37-year-old Malouda was assessed a two-match stadium ban.

[ MORE: Read PST’s Gold Cup latest ]

“As a consequence of fielding Florent Malouda, who was confirmed by the Disciplinary Committee to be ineligible to play in the Gold Cup 2017 according to the applicable regulations, the Disciplinary Committee has levied sanctions and fines against the French Guiana Football League (LGF) and has suspended the player ruled ineligible,” CONCACAF said in a statement.

Malouda of course earned 80 caps for the French National Team during a long career in Europe where he starred for Lyon and Chelsea, but began playing for his native French Guiana earlier this year, captaining the side to third place at the Caribbean Cup, which served as a qualifying tournament for the Gold Cup.

For whatever reason, CONCACAF allowed Malouda to compete for French Guiana in that competition but has decided to honor FIFA rules, which say a player cannot switch international teams once they’ve played in an official FIFA match, at the Gold Cup, which ruled Malouda ineligible for the Gold Cup. Normally FIFA rules don’t apply to French Guiana because the nation, an overseas department of France, is not a member of FIFA.

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At the same time, Malouda was allowed to be registered on the French Guiana roster, placed on the starting lineup and take the field, even though the game was almost surely going to be forfeited.

The strange situation has perhaps met its end, with French Guiana now with no chance of advancing to the knockout round of the Gold Cup with two losses through its first two games against Canada and Honduras.

French Guiana wraps up the group stage against Costa Rica on Friday evening.

Pontius replaces injured Saief on USMNT Gold Cup roster

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U.S. Men’s National Team debutant Kenny Saief’s CONCACAF Gold Cup is over before it even began.

U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that Saief suffered a groin injury in the time since making his debut Saturday in the USMNT’s 2-1 friendly victory over Ghana and has been replaced on the Gold Cup roster by Philadelphia Union midfielder Chris Pontius.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s 2017 Gold Cup coverage ]

The outside midfielder, who plays a similar position to Saief, has six assists in 17 Major League Soccer games this season and made his first two USMNT appearances this past January and February in friendly matches against Serbia and Jamaica.

The news is a blow to the American-born and Israeli-raised Saief, who recently completed his one-time FIFA switch to play for the USMNT after making a pair of appearances in friendly matches for Israel.

Meanwhile it’s a boost to Pontius, who is enjoying some of his best soccer since overcoming a number of injury-riddled seasons with D.C. United.