David vs. Goliath.
There's no other way to put it, considering the United States have won the past eight meetings between the two teams by a combined score of 29-5. Interestingly enough, Cuba won the first-ever match 5-2 in Havana back in 1947 and followed that up with a 1-1 draw in Mexico City two years later.
After Mexico handed the Cubans a 6-0 beatdown in their opening match, most will expect the US to do the same and coast to a quarterfinal matchup with either Haiti or Jamaica. Can the Americans' sputtering attack deliver?
NEW FACES FOR USMNT: Two years ago, Jurgen Klinsmann used the Gold Cup group stage to suss out weak spots in his lineup, then filled the holes with a few targeted roster moves ahead of the knockout stages. The US, of course, went on to win the whole thing. The German followed the same path this time around, making three changes after a 1-1 draw against Panama in Kansas City.
The big news? Jozy Altidore is back in Toronto after Klinsmann decided the forward's fitness simply wasn't up to snuff following a hamstring injury that derailed his preparation for the tournament. Perhaps more importantly, the German didn't bring in help in central defense, where Tim Ream looks to be the starter next to either Ventura Alvarado or Omar Gonzalez as John Anthony Brooks serves a suspension for yellow-card accumulation.
CUBA FIND A WAY: Nobody in CONCACAF deals with more drama during the Gold Cup than Cuba, which has a long history of defections and bizarre circumstance during the tournament. This edition is no different, with Keilen Garcia defecting, then joining Univision in studio as a commentator for his team's Group C finale against Guatemala, a 1-0 win that sent Cuba to the quarterfinals.
Oh, and one caveat about that loss to Mexico: head coach Raul Gonzalez Triana and six Cuban players didn't make it to Chicago for that match.
ANOTHER CUBAN DEFECTS: Cuba revealed at their pregame press conference on Friday that they had lost a fourth player to defection, with striker Ariel Martinez leaving the team – reportedly with tears in his eyes – upon their return to the team hotel following Wednesday's win against Guatemala. According to Gonzalez, Cuba will have just 19 players available for Saturday's contest.
THAT ABOUT SUMS IT UP: Leave it to Michael Bradley to say what we're all thinking...
Asked Bradley about Gold Cup mayhem. He said, "I say this with total endearment. It's a ridiculous tournament."— Brian Straus (@BrianStraus) July 17, 2015