As expected, the US national team’s hopes of returning to the Confederations Cup run right through their neighbors – but a little earlier than expected, and with a twist.
Tuesday’s announcement of the draw for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup sees the US kick off their campaign to recapture the regional championship against their neighbors to the north – vs. Canada on June 7 at Detroit’s Ford Field, a stone’s throw from the Canadian Border.
Canada will get a chance to avenge their controversial last meeting with the US in the semis of the 2007 Gold Cup, in which the Canucks saw a late equalizer by Atiba Hutchinson waved offside. Bob Bradley's squad barely held on for a 2-1 victory and went on to hoist their fourth CONCACAF title. The US hold a 12-8-9 all-time record against Canada.
Joining the US and Canada in Group C of the Gold Cup are Panama and Guadeloupe. The US will face Panama on June 11 at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium and will conclude group-stage play on June 14 against Guadeloupe at Sporting Kansas City’s new stadium, LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
Defending Gold Cup champions Mexico, meanwhile, were drawn into a rough Group A alongside Costa Rica, El Salvador and Cuba. El Tri open group play against the Salvadorans on the first day of the tournament, June 5 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
[inline_node:325080]Mexico will then face Cuba on June 9 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., and wrap up group play three days later against Costa Rica at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Honduras headline Group B, which also features Guatemala, Jamaica and Grenada. The 2010 World Cup participants will open group play against the Guatemalans on June 6 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
This summer’s Gold Cup will be played in 13 venues across the US, including four MLS stadiums. The quarterfinals will be held at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and Washington’s RFK Stadium on June 18 and 19. The semis will be in Houston’s Reliant Stadium on June 22 before the final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on June 25.
“We are extremely excited for this year's Gold Cup and are completely confident that it will be the best ever,” CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer said in a statement. "We are bringing our fans the region's best football in fantastic venues – with a lot on the line. It is truly a can't-miss event."
Eight-time winners Mexico won the last edition of the Gold Cup in 2009 with a 5-0 victory over the US in the final. Mexico and the US have met four times in the final, with the Mexicans holding a 3-1 edge.
The winner of this summer’s edition books a spot in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. Thanks to their ’07 title, the US were CONCACAF’s representative at the last Confederations Cup in South Africa in 2009, when they went on a spirited run to the final, where they fell to Brazil.
Pre-sale of tickets go on sale on Wednesday for one week only through local stadium box offices or local MLS teams. Tickets go on sale to the general public on March 16 through www.goldcup.org.
2011 CONCACAF GOLD CUP SCHEDULE (All times ET)
Group A (Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador)
June 5: Costa Rica vs. Cuba at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas (6 pm)
June 5: Mexico vs. El Salvador at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas (8 pm)
June 9: Costa Rica vs. El Salvador at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C. (7 pm)
June 9: Cuba vs. Mexico at Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C. (9 pm)
June 12: El Salvador vs. Cuba at Soldier Field, Chicago (6 pm)
June 12: Mexico vs. Costa Rica at Soldier Field, Chicago (8 pm)
Group B (Jamaica, Grenada, Honduras, Guatemala)
June 6: Jamaica vs. Grenada at the Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif. (9 pm)
June 6: Honduras vs. Guatemala at the Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif. (11 pm)
June 10: Jamaica vs. Guatemala at FIU Stadium, Miami (7 pm)
June 10: Grenada vs. Honduras at FIU Stadium, Miami (9 pm)
June 13: Guatemala vs. Grenada at Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J. (7 pm)
June 13: Honduras vs. Jamaica at Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J. (9 pm)
Group C (Panama, Guadeloupe, USA, Canada)
June 7: Panama vs. Guadeloupe at Ford Field, Detroit (6 pm)
June 7: USA vs. Canada at Ford Field, Detroit (8 pm)
June 11: Canada vs. Guadeloupe at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa (6 pm)
June 11: USA vs. Panama at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa (8 pm)
June 14: Canada vs. Panama at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan. (7 pm)
June 14: Guadeloupe vs. USA at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan. (9 pm)
June 18: Group A runner-up vs. Group B runner-up at New Meadowlands Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
June 18: Group A winner vs. Group B/C third place at New Meadowlands Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
June 19: Group B winner vs. Group C runner-up at RFK Stadium, Washington
June 19: Group C winner vs. Group A/B third place at RFK Stadium, Washington
June 22 at Reliant Stadium, Houston
June 25 at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.