The 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup begins Tuesday, July 7, at Toyota Park in Dallas, TX. Group A match play opens the 13th edition of the Gold Cup, featuring a field of teams headlined by the United States. The USA has won a total of five Gold Cup titles and enters the tournament as the reigning 2013 champions. They’ll combat with the likes of Panama, Honduras and Haiti within their group to kick off the proceedings.
Match Day 1 starts with a 7:00 p.m. kickoff between Panama and Haiti. The second match, United States vs. Honduras, will follow, beginning at 9:30 p.m. According to TiqIQ.com, tickets available on the secondary market for this doubleheader have an average price of $184.17, while the get-in cost is $108. Supporters of the USMNT can get to Toyota Park with Hipmunk.com, offering flights to and from Dallas through most major airline carriers. Dallas hotels can be booked on Hipmunk as well, starting from $67 per night.
Entering the tournament 54th in the FIFA rankings, Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Jaime Penedo will lead a Panama squad that features two other key players who play in Major League Soccer. Blas Perez of FC Dallas and Gabriel Torres of the Colorado Rapids will be tasked with supplying the majority of scoring opportunities. Panama has an all-time tournament record of 10-9-9 and finished as the runners up in 2013. It also marked the second time the nation had lost to the USA in a Gold Cup Final.
Haiti, ranked 75th in the FIFA rankings, will look to midfielder Jeff Louis to engineer an early tournament upset. The exciting 22-year-old plays for Standard Liege in Belgium. Joining him is forward Kervens Belfort, who has scored an impressive 10 goals in only 18 international appearances. Haiti will look to improve on their all-time Gold Cup record of 3-4-3, having finished in fourth of Group B in 2013.
The second match features a 2013 Gold Cup Semi-Final rematch. On July 24, 2013, the United States defeated Honduras 3-1 at AT&T Stadium. However, this matchup has even deeper historical roots. The tournament’s inaugural edition, held in 1991, saw them meet in the Gold Cup Final, with the US emerging victorious. This game has the potential to be one of the best of the entire group stage.
Midfielder Michael Bradley will lead the United States, who are currently 27th in the FIFA rankings, and he’ll be making his 100th appearance for the Americans. The roster contains 17 players who were featured on the 2014 World Cup roster and six who were apart of the 2013 Gold Cup roster. In their 12 Gold Cup tournament appearances, the US has an all-time record of 48-6-7 and have won the most titles in its history.
Honduras, who ranks 56th in the FIFA rankings, has impressively advanced to the semifinal in four of the five past Gold Cups, so they certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly. The Honduran roster features three players with over 100 national team appearances. Leading this trio is goalie Noel Valladares, who has been capped 129 times, followed by Maynor Figueroa (117) and Óscar Boniek García (105). Historically, Honduras has played in 11 Gold Cups and sports a record of 18-6-17.