Bruce Arena on the Gold Cup: “The Gold Cup is an important tournament for us. We don’t take any of our opponents for granted. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
The United States will begin its quest for a sixth CONCACAF title when it opens Group B action of the Gold Cup against Panama on at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. Saturday, July 8.
The Americans will face Martinique at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Wednesday, July 12 and will take on either Haiti or Nicaragua at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio Saturday, July 15.
The U.S. has lifted the Gold Cup five times, winning the inaugural tournament in 1991 before being crowned regional champions again in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2013. Current head coach Bruce Arena led the team to the 2002 and 2005 triumphs, and is one of two coaches to win multiple Gold Cup titles after Bora Milutinovic did so with the U.S. in 1991 and Mexico in 1996.
The winner of this summer’s competition will at the very least book its place in the playoff to represent CONCACAF at the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup in Qatar.
“The Gold Cup is an important tournament for us,” Arena said in a statement. “We don’t take any of our opponents for granted. We open with a challenging game against Panama, and Martinique has the ability to surprise teams with the quality of their players. Obviously we’ll wait to see who the third team will be, but regardless we know we will need to be prepared.”
Scheduled to meet in a World Cup qualifying match in Panama City March 28, the U.S. has played Panama in seven previous Gold Cup tournaments and each of the past six competitions, with the Americans going 5-1-3 against Los Canaleros in tournament play.
The USA twice has faced Panama in the Gold Cup Final. After playing to a 0-0 draw, Brad Davis’ penalty kick sealed a 3-1 shootout win and the 2005 title at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Eight years later, a goal by Brek Shea lifted the U.S. to a 1-0 victory in the 2013 championship match at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Panama holds the distinction of handing the U.S. its only defeat in Gold Cup group play, a 2-1 loss in Tampa June 11, 2011.
The red, white and blue will face Martinique for the second time, having defeated the French overseas department 2-0 during the Group Stage of the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Former U.S. international David Regis, who was born on the Caribbean island, is a member of the Martinique staff. A member of the USA’s 1998 and 2002 World Cup rosters, Regis earned 22 of his 27 international caps during Arena’s first tenure with the national side.