The 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup is further evidence that the influence of Major League Soccer is spreading through the region, as 15 non-U.S. players will suit up for their countries in this month's continental championship. The competition kicks off on Wednesday in Miami and continues until the title game on July 24 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Including the United States, whose roster includes 16 MLS players, eight of 12 nations vying for the Gold Cup will feature at least one man who plies his trade in the U.S. top flight.
Topping the list with three MLS players each are Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. The Reggae Boyz, who have been drawn into Group C with Mexico, Guatemala and South Africa, have national team veterans Tyrone Marshall (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Andy Williams (Real Salt Lake) on their roster, as well as second-year player Khari Stephenson (Kansas City Wizards). Meanwhile, Cornell Glen (Columbus Crew), Avery John (New England Revolution) and Leslie Fitzpatrick (Real Salt Lake) will all suit up for the Soca Warriors, who face Honduras, Colombia and Panama in Group A.
Trinidad & Tobago's opening opponent in Group A is Honduras, which features two MLS players, both from the Chicago Fire. Samuel Caballero and Ivan Guerrero will try to lead the Hondurans to their first-ever Gold Cup title.
In Group B, the United States will face off against two sides with MLS players. Canadian national team coach Frank Yallop has called up Dwayne De Rosario (San Jose Earthquakes) and Will Johnson (Chicago Fire), while Costa Rican boss Alexander Guimaraes has called on Douglas Sequeira (Chivas USA) and Michael Umaña (Los Angeles Galaxy).
Rounding out the set of MLS players in action for their national teams this month are two players from Guatemala and one from Mexico. Guillermo Ramirez (Los Angeles Galaxy) will likely captain the chapines, and Carlos Ruiz (FC Dallas) has also been called in, though an ankle injury has prevented him from playing recently. New Chivas USA acquisition Juan Pablo Garcia will suit up for Ricardo Lavolpe's tricolor.
The Chicago Fire and New England Revolution have the most players involved in the Gold Cup, with five each, while the Los Angeles Galaxy are a close second with four players called in. The Kansas City Wizards and Real Salt Lake have each had three players called up, while Chivas USA, the Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes will be missing two players each. The Colorado Rapids will have one player involved, while the MetroStars are the only MLS team not to have any players taking part in the competition.
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.