BLAINE, Minn. – When the US men’s national team step onto the pitch at Allianz Field on Tuesday night (10 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN in US, TSN 1/3 in Canada), they’ll be seeing two things for the first time.
The first will be the stadium itself: the 19,400-capacity home of Minnesota United opened in April. The second will be 11 Golden Jaguars.
Guyana, one of the three South American nations who are part of Concacaf, will make their Gold Cup debut against the USMNT; the two nations have never played one another before. Though inexperienced on a stage as large as the Gold Cup, the Golden Jaguars believe they can spring a few surprises at the tournament.
“Nobody has given us a chance at scoring a goal, winning a game,” said head coach Michael Johnson, a former Jamaican international, in a press release. “We don’t have the big names, but we have got a really tight-knit group.”
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The US won’t be guilty of underestimating their first opponent.
“It’s true that Trinidad & Tobago and Panama might be more difficult teams, but we have to respect every team,” said defender Omar Gonzalez in a Spanish-language interview.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen said he prepares the same for every game, regardless of opponent.
“We try to stick to the same script,” he explained. “We look at them and see how they can really hurt us and we look at them and see how we can hurt them.”
The USMNT are anticipating an energetic start to the match.
“They’re obviously a fast team,” said D.C. United winger Paul Arriola. “They’re going to come out and it’s going to be their first game, they’re going to be excited to play. They’re going to go all over the place. We don’t know if they’ll have chances in the beginning, but I expect a lot of energy from them.”
Energy doesn’t always translate into goals, though, which the US will aim to ensure during the game’s early minutes. “We need to come out with our own energy,” explained Arriola. “The game can become very difficult if they get a goal or two.”
“It’s going to be a game like that,” he said, “and it’s good to have the experience and knowledge to take every team seriously and respect them.”