U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena has selected the 23 players that will compete in the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the regional championship of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The 12-team tournament runs from July 6-24 in six cities across the United States.
The U.S. will compete in Group B along with Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba, opening the tournament July 7 against Cuba at Qwest Field in Seattle. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on Telefutura. The U.S. continues group play against Canada on July 9 in Seattle (1:30 p.m. PT, Tele-futura), then heads East to finish out the opening round against Costa Rica at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. (7 p.m. ET, Telefutura).
“This is a great opportunity to further the continuity of our group, and to get a chance to look at players in meaningful matches,” said Arena, who holds a 10-1-2 lifetime record in the Gold Cup and a championship title in 2002. We have a blend of experience and some new faces, and these games will be very important in terms of formulating our roster for the rest of qualifying. We are certainly entering the tournament with the goal of winning the competition.”
Nine players return to the roster who were part of the third-place finish in the 2003 Gold Cup, led by Seattle-area native Kasey Keller. The USA’s all-time leader in wins (45) and shutouts (39) has started the last 10 games for the U.S. in Gold Cup competition, including all five matches in the team’s run to the 2002 Gold Cup title. Columbus Crew defender Frankie Hejduk is the only other U.S. player to boast a similar feat.
Los Angeles Galaxy forward Landon Donovan entered his name in the history books in the 2003 tournament, becoming the fourth player in MNT history to record four goals in a game when the USA trounced Cuba 5-0 in the quarterfinals. Dono-van is the USA’s third all-time leading scorer in Gold Cup history with five goals, behind Eric Wynalda (9) and Brian McBride (8). Colorado Rapids midfielder Pablo Mastroeni returns to the fold after missing the last series of World Cup qualifiers with a quad injury.
Two national team veterans are getting their first run with the squad, Chicago Fire teammates Chris Armas and Tony Sanneh. Armas (58 caps) and Sanneh (41 caps) were both fixtures in the player pool until lengthy injuries cut their time short with the national team. At the other end of the spectrum, San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Brad Davis gets his first chance with the senior team after playing for the U.S. in the 2001 World Youth Championship in Argentina and CONCACAF qualifying for the 2004 Olympic Games. Kansas City Wizards midfielder Jimmy Conrad and New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis are the only other players in search of their first international cap.
Hoping to return to action for the U.S. is midfielder John O’Brien, who is making his third appearance on a roster since starting all five games at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. O’Brien has been plagued by injuries over the last two years, and has only played one league match since Feb. 13, 2004. He trained with the U.S. team last month in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Panama, and should be fit for selection.
The MLS leader board is well represented on the roster, as members from both division leaders join the roster. The New England Revolution send a league-high four players to Portland. Along with Reis, Clint Dempsey, Pat Noonan and Steve Ralston continue their consistent run with the MNT in 2005. Ralston and Dempsey are tied with the most appearances for the U.S. this year, each having earned minutes in seven of eight matches. FC Dallas contributes striker Eddie Johnson and defender Greg Vanney to the mix.
Should the U.S. advance as the first or second place finisher in the group, their quarterfinal matchup would take place July 16 in Foxboro, with the semifinals slated for July 21 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The 2005 Gold Cup Final will also be played at Giants Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for July 24 at 3 p.m. ET.
The Gold Cup is being televised nationwide on the Uni-vision family of networks: Univision, Galavision and Telefutura. Check local listings for details.