The US Men’s National Team trains for the first time today in preparation for the upcoming Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is essentially the Concacaf championship. 16 nations come in looking for the chance to win the 2021 Gold Cup, including the USMNT. In this tournament, the USMNT can develop depth needed for the future while making a run to win the Gold Cup.
USMNT can develop depth at Gold Cup
This tournament is usually a telling one as to how the USMNT will look for the rest of the calender year. This time around things will look a bit different. The USA has not called up their first choice team for the 2021 Gold Cup, and there is a good reason for that.
Expectations for the Gold Cup
The USMNT wants to develop depth in their players pool. Right now, head coach Greg Berhalter know who their first choice roster looks like. He and coaching staff now are looking for players who can feature in the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers. Becasue of this, Berhalter called in a squad of players on the firnges in their positions to round out the player pool.
The USMNT will still be expected to compete to win this tournament with these players. But the expctation has shifted to evaluation for a bigger prize. The highest priority is finding the players that will be needed for a brutal stretch of World Cup qualifying.
All World cup qualifiers in the new Octaganal will feature International windows of three matches in seven days. It will be necessary to have players who may be on the fringes to come into a big match and get the job done. That is what this Gold Cup group will be evaluated on.
The Gold Cup is still is a big deal to US Soccer; however it is more important to give the opportunity to more inexperienced players. Here’s a look at this ineteresting roster.
This roster is very different from USMNT rosters in the past, 12 of the 23 players will have the opportunity to play in their first competitive appearances. Only four players on the roster were at the last Gold Cup in 2018. This group is MLS heavy, but is filled with young hungry players who want to keep being in the picture for the national team moving forward. Here’s a look at the 23-man roster.
Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)
George Bello (Atlanta United), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Shaq Moore (Tenerife), Donovan Pines (D.C. United), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)
Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Daryl Dike (Orlando City), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)
This group of players may be inexperienced when it comes to playing in a tournament like the Gold Cup, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be any good. From the roster, there can be some strong starting XI’s that can compete to lift the Gold Cup. One such XI would look like this:
Turner; Vines, Robinson, Zimmerman, Cannon; Acosta, Roldan, Lletget; Hoppe, Dike, Arriola.
That lineup right there can easily get the USA out of their group. Speaking of which, here’s a look at their group, and their path to the Gold Cup final.
Group and path at Gold Cup 2021
The USA is in Group B. This group has Martinique, Canada, and a third nation that is still TBD. This unidentified nation will be made clear tonight after a qualifier match. The USMNT will take on that nation in their first match, followed by Martinique, and then Canada to end group play. Here’s a look at those matches, kickoff times and where you can watch.
- USA v TBD (qualifier) | Sunday, July 11, @ 8:30 pm EST | FS1
- Martinique v USA | Thursday, July 15, @ 9:30 pm EST | FS1
- USA v Canada | Sunday, July 18, @ 5 pm EST | FS1
The USA will be favorites to get out of this group. Should they finish in first or second place, they’ll do just that. Getting out of the group means having the opportunity to play in three knockout rounds, starting with the Quarterfinals.
Winning or coming in second place in Group B means playing the winner or runner-up of Group C. That group has Costa Rica, Jamaica, Suriname, or a team that is playing in a qualifier tonight. Should they face any of them, they should be favored. Making it to the semifinals would mean a date with more difficult teams to beat. It could mean a showdown with Honduras, Panama, or possibly Mexico.
In a perfect world…
What would be the best path for the USMNT at this Gold Cup? Obviously it would start with winning their group. After that they would need to beat a runner up from Group C in the quarterfinals, a team like Jamaica. Then they’d have to play and beat a team like Honduras or Panama in the semifinals, which would set up a finals match against Mexico. This type of scenario would help bleed this inexperienced USMNT roster, while also showing the players who can compete in these higher pressure situations that come later in a tournament like this. We’ll have to wait and see if this can happen for the USMNT.
PSN has you covered!
Philly Sports Network will have you covered with previews of all the nations ahead of the start of the Gold Cup. As well as, recaps and previews of the different matchdays and knockout rounds! Stay tuned for all the action!
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Mandatory Credit: US Soccer via Twitter