The CONCACAF Gold Cup began last night at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, with Canada beating Jamaica 1-0 and El Salvador dumping Costa Rica 2-1. For the the USMNT, things begin in earnest tonight, with the squad taking on Grenada at 9pm at Qwest Field (Seattle) on Fox Soccer Channel. The earlier match at that venue features Honduras squaring off against Haiti, with the latter having qualified for consecutive Gold Cups for the first time in their history.
Group A consists of: (1) Canada; (2) Costa Rica; (3) El Salvador; and (4) Jamaica. The remaining Group A matches will take place on Tuesday, July 7th at Crew Stadium (Columbus, OH) and Friday, July 10th at Florida International University Stadium in Miami.
Group B features: (1) Grenada; (2) Haiti; (3) Honduras; and (4) the United States. After today's tilts, matches will be held on Wednesday, July 8th at RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.) and Saturday, July 11th at Gillette Stadium in Boston.
Group C contains: (1) Guadeloupe; (2) Mexico; (3) Nicaragua; and (4) Panama. The opening games will take place tomorrow at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium and will feature Panama v. Guadeloupe and Mexico v. Nicaragua. The remaining matches will be held on Thursday, July 9th at Reliant Stadium (Houston) and Sunday, July 12th at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The quarterfinals will take place on Saturday, July 18th at Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia) and Sunday, July 19th at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. The semifinals will be held on Thursday, July 23rd at Soldier Field in Chicago, while the final will be on Sunday, July 26th at Giants Stadium.
The USMNT is looking for its 3rd straight Gold Cup championship, which is held every 2 years. A victory this year, therefore, would not qualify the US for the next Confederations Cup, as that spot would go to the winner of the 2011 Gold Cup. However, the US does look to be in a very strong position to pull off this 3rd consecutive championship, as they have been provided a significant advantage by CONCACAF. Due to their participation in the Confederations Cup, the USMNT has argued (successfully) that their squad faces significant hardship in playing 2 international competitions so closely together. In addition to the original 23-man roster, CONCACAF has allowed Bob Bradely to add an additional 7 players for an overall 30-man roster.
What is strange, however, is that of the 23-man roster only Charlie Davies saw action in the Confederations Cup while the the majority of the rest of the players were not even on the roster for that competition. So what, exactly, is Bob Bradley complaining about here? Most of his 23-man roster only had MLS competition to contend with, so they are unlikely to be "worn out", or at least not any more so than players from other teams who are currently in the midst of domestic competition. Even more puzzling is that Bradley responded to this supposed concern of tiredness by adding 6 players who all did see playing time in the Confederations Cup in Bornstein, Clark, Feilhaber, Altidore, Kljestan, and Casey. Obviously, people are talking about both CONCACAF's seeming injustice and Bradley's strange roster decisions in response.
Will the extra 7 players on the roster make a difference, allowing the US to roll to a 3rd consecutive Gold Cup championship? If they do, what will the other countries in the tournament have to say about this seeming competitive advantage?