Jurgen Klinsmann, Gold Cup treatment
USA Today Sports

Gold Cup: United States, Jurgen Klinsmann target second straight title, Confederations Cup berth

CONCACAF's marquee competition kicks off on July 7. For comprehensive 2015 Gold Cup coverage, bookmark this page.


THE GENERATION THAT ALMOST DID GETS ONE LAST SHOT AT GLORY

Jurgen Klinsmann isn't messing around. After promising to turn the page in reference to the player pool following the World Cup, the German assembled a 23-man roster heavy on veterans. The message? Development will come soon enough. Only one result will do this summer: a second straight Gold Cup title, one that would send the Americans to the Confederations Cup without a playoff.

To accomplish that, the USMNT must first navigate a tricky Group A, in which Panama will be looking for revenge for a final defeat in the 2013 Gold Cup (not to mention Hexagonal heartbreak) and Honduras hope to prove their dire form isn't indicative of the program's trajectory. Should the US do what's expected and finish first, they'll be on a collision course with a first-choice Mexico side looking to atone for a poor showing two years ago.

GROUP A SCHEDULE

July 7: vs. Honduras, Frisco, Texas
July 10: vs. Haiti, Foxborough, Mass.
July 13: vs. Panama, Kansas City, Kansas

THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Clint Dempsey, F, Seattle Sounders FC: Deuce made headlines for all the wrong reasons lately. Maybe you heard about that now-infamous US Open Cup outburst? The offshoot – for the Gold Cup, at least – is that Dempsey lost the armband to Michael Bradley, increasingly seen as the heartbeat of the USMNT. How will he respond on CONCACAF's biggest stage? Considering the Deuce-against-the-world motivations he'll surely harbor, Group A may want to watch out.

John Anthony Brooks, D, Hertha Berlin: Klinsmann sees Brooks as the future of the USMNT backline, and that means he'll have to become proficient negating the region's wily attacking talent, forwards who won't always play fair. What happens when Brooks gets CONCACAF'd for the first time? Will he keep his cool? Will he adapt his game? Will he become the type of player who can anchor the USMNT defense for years to come?

Brad Guzan, GK, Aston Villa: The job is his, finally. After years as Tim Howard's understudy, Guzan is the undisputed No. 1 for the US heading into a major tournament. The end of the EPL season was a bit shaky for the former Chivas USA man, with Shay Given getting an extended run under Tim Sherwood, but Guzan will be expected to be a game-changer. Can he deliver?

THE COACH

Klinsmann's methods and personality can be polarizing, but there's no denying the USMNT are flying heading into the Gold Cup. Wins in the Netherlands and Germany in May sent a clear signal to the rest of CONCACAF, and the Americans should be considered tournament favorites considering their recent history against Mexico. After a 2013 Gold Cup title and the Group of Death escape in the World Cup, Klinsmann's legacy is starting to come into focus. Now he'll target another trophy (and an automatic Confederations Cup berth) as the road to 2018 begins in earnest.

GOLD CUP HISTORY

Before each Gold Cup, you can ask one question: US or Mexico? Since the tournament began in 1991, an inaugural win for the Americans, only Canada (2000) have knocked the CONCACAF giants off their perch. The US are second all-time with five titles (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2011) – Mexico have six – with a record four second-place finishes.

MLS/USA/CANADA CONNECTIONS

Eleven of 23 members of the US roster hail from MLS, including the spine of the team.