Team USA begins defense of its Gold Cup crown
Finally, the United States Men's National Soccer Team (USMNT) gets its chance at the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. We've had to be patient over the last few days as Team USA was scheduled as the final opening game of group play. They round out Group D where they'll take on Gold Cup newcomers in Guyana. This is the fourth time that the United States has co-hosted this event with other nations. They jointly hosted with Mexico in both 1993 and 2003, shared the duties with Canada in '15, and this year they share the honors with both Costa Rica and Jamaica.
The U.S. is looking to make history while Guyana is looking to make a good first impression. And with this game being in Minnesota, Team USA is sure to have a comfortable home-field advantage. Here's a deeper look into Team USA's Gold Cup opener.
United States vs. Guyana
When: Tuesday, June 18 at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Allianz Field (St. Paul, Minn.)
TV: FS1 and Univision
Three Things to Watch
1. What winning this tournament means for Team USA
We all know about Team USA's other objectives, but for this story, we'll focus on their Gold Cup mission. A win this year will not only tie the U.S. with Mexico for the most championships (seven), it'll also be the first time the Americans have won this event two straight times. What's more, it would secure Team USA's place atop CONCACAF, and give the team some much-needed momentum heading into the CONCACAF Nations League later this year and also their attempts to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Americans will be looking to achieve all of this with a much younger roster than in years past with players such as midfielder Christian Pulisic (20), defender Nick Lima (24), and goalkeeper Zack Steffen (24). They are joined by veterans such as Jozy Altidore (third all-time with 41 goals), Michael Bradley (third all-time with 145 caps), and Omar Gonzalez (third straight Gold Cup appearance).
2. Enter Guyana
While this country is located in South America, Guyana is a member of CONCACAF instead of the South American confederation CONMEBOL. Their national team is making its Gold Cup debut, which also represents its first-ever major international competition. Guyana has never qualified for the FIFA World Cup but is expected to take part in the inaugural Nations League event that will be held this fall.
Guyana's roster is made up of players under the age of 30. Forward Sheldon Holder (22 caps, 6 goals) leads the way. All of Guayana's players play at the club level for smaller teams across Europe, Canada, and the Caribbean.
3. First-ever meeting
This is the first time that Guyana will take on the Americans but Team USA is no stranger to South American opposition. The U.S. is 28-57-26 in its history against teams from the continent, including 1-1-1 in their last three such matches. The opening minutes on Tuesday night will be interesting to watch.
While the world is curious about what Guyana brings to the table, this should be an easy win for Team USA, which could use a boost of confidence. Guyana appears to be overmatched for this one, but the team will gain some valuable international experience.
Prediction: United States 4, Guyana 0
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.