Only Mexico has enjoyed more success at the Gold Cup than the United States. The Americans have captured four titles, two less than their rivals to the south. They last won the tournament crown in 2007, a 2-1 thriller against El Tri at Chicago’s Soldier Field (site of this year’s final). That triumph punched their ticket to the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, in which the U.S. finished as runner-up to Brazil after upsetting world and European champion Spain 2-0 in the semifinals.
With his team in the middle of World Cup Qualifying in the CONCACAF hexagonal, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is anticipated to craft a roster of young and veteran players. Klinsmann has indicated he will bring in midfielder Stuart Holden (two career Gold Cup goals), whose promising career has been interrupted with knee injuries. Another intriguing candidate is LA Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan, the U.S. (49 goals) and Gold Cup’s (13 goals) all-time leading scorer, who took a sabbatical from the sport before returning to Major League Soccer action in April.
Mexican league performers Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona (both of Club Tijuana), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Michael Orozco (Puebla) and Jose Francisco Torres (Tigres) stand an excellent chance of being included in the final selection.
It is not easy to defeat the U.S. at home in Gold Cup’s group stage. In 28 games, the Americans have lost only once (2011: 2-1 against Panama in Tampa, Fla.), while winning on 25 occasions. First-round foes Costa Rica, Cuba and Belize certainly will be challenged.