PREVIEW: UNITED STATES - GUATEMALA
The United States Men's National Team will host Guatemala in Nashville this Friday in a pre-Gold Cup friendly. 4
The Americans have been on an absolute tear, defeating rivals Mexico 2-0 in April, and then putting together shocking wins against Holland, 4-3, and Germany, 2-1, during June.
The friendly against Guatemala will provide Coach Jurgen Klinsmann with the opportunity to tinker with his 23-man Gold Cup roster before the tournament begins on July 7th.
In the last installation of the Gold Cup in 2013, the Americans won the tournament with relative ease, eventually defeating Panama, 1-0, in the final match. By raising the trophy in 2013, the USA qualified for a playoff match against the eventual winners of the 2015 Gold Cup. The winner of this future match would qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup. Of course, if the US wins the 2015 Gold Cup, it will automatically qualify for the Confederations Cup in 2017.
Klinsmann will be without left-foot specialist Brad Davis against Guatemala and for the Gold Cup as the Houston Dynamo captain succumbed to a knee injury this week and was scratched from the roster. Liga MX fullback Greg Garza has been called in to replace Davis.
Despite the last minute switch, the US squad is the closest it has been to full strength since the World Cup as the likes of Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Clint Dempsey are set to feature. Earlier in the week, Klinsmann made the announcement that Michael Bradley would replace Dempsey as the team's the captain for the tournament. Dempsey was recently suspended by MLS for an incident at the Open Cup where he tore up a referee's notebook in frustration.
While this trio of veterans highlight the roster, National Team newcomers like Ventura Alvarado and Gyasi Zardes will be looking to make their first competitive appearances for the Yanks during the Gold Cup.
The USA holds a 14-4-6 all-time record against the Guatemalans, and a 2-0-1 record since 2010. Their last meeting, July 5th of 2013, also a Gold Cup warm up match, ended in a 6-0 demolishing, as Landon Donovan bagged two goals.
The Guatemala side, also rearing up for the Gold Cup, will feature a handful of familiar players through the likes of MLSers Moises Hernandez and Marco Pappa, as well as former MLS journeyman Carlos Ruiz.
With the Gold Cup just a few days ahead, Klinsmann and the Yanks look set to solidify the roster and repeat their Gold Cup success.