Perfect in Opening Games of the Gold Cup
Dating back to the inaugural tournament in 1991, the U.S. MNT is a perfect 12-0-0 in CONCACAF Gold Cup openers, defeating Trinidad & Tobago (1991, 1996), Jamaica (1993), Cuba (1998, 2005), Haiti (2000), Korea Republic (2002), El Salvador (2003), Guatemala (2007), Grenada (2009), Canada (2011) and Belize (2013).
The team has outscored opponents 33-6 in its initial Gold Cup games, earning clean sheets in seven of the 12 matches. Chris Wondolowski’s hat trick in the team’s 6-1 victory against Belize in 2013 marks the most goals scored by a U.S. player in the opening match of the tournament.
Omar and Greg return to Dallas
Defenders Omar Gonzalez and Greg Garza hail from the Dallas area and both also played for famed U.S. Soccer Development Academy club Dallas Texans.
“It’s very special to come back to Dallas while playing for your national team,” Gonzalez told reporters prior to training on Sunday. “[We’re] playing in such an important tournament this year and against a good opponent in Honduras. Hopefully we can get the result we want.”
“What else can you ask for, right?” added Garza. “It’s a dream come true. For me being home, having my family, my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles – everyone being here to see me, I’m just really happy to be here.”
While Gonzalez has regularly played at Toyota Stadium with his club side LA Galaxy, Garza said he also has familiarity with the venue.
“We had the U-23s game against Mexico here about three or four years ago,” he said. “Other times, I’ve youth tournaments here and stuff like that as well. I’ve played on these [training] fields a lot when I was with my club team, the Dallas Texans, but I’ve done a couple of camps here with the youth national teams as well. Wherever you are, you have to be ready for whatever circumstances. I think it’s a good feeling to be home, but the main thing is for all of us to adapt the best way possible.”
Garza told reporters that he was trying to get as many tickets as possible to Tuesday’s game for family members while Gonzalez said he’d keep his ticket requests to just immediate family.
Otherwise, “it’d come out of my pocket,” he joked.
Gold Cup Games in Dallas
The U.S. MNT has played five previous Gold Cup matches in the Dallas metro area, going a perfect 5-0-0.
Four of those five matches came during the 1993 Gold Cup when the U.S. defeated Jamaica 1-0, Panama 2-1 and Honduras 1-0 in group play before using Cle Kooiman’s extra time winner to down Costa Rica 1-0 in the semifinals.
More recently, the U.S. defeated Honduras 3-1 at Arlington’s Cowboy Stadium in the 2013 Gold Cup semifinals, with U.S. midfielder Alejandro Bedoya assisting on both of Landon Donovan’s goals.
Bedoya’s Fond Memory in Dallas
Almost two years on from that semifinal win in Arlington, Bedoya holds fond memories of how that performance helped him move forward with MNT.
“That was sort of my breakout back being with the National Team,” Bedoya said. “I hadn’t been playing all that much when Jurgen came in and was happy to be back in the mix on the Gold Cup roster. I waited for my chance and got it late in the group stage, continued that on and in the semifinal against Honduras I was able to create a lot with my runs. I got two important assists by being aggressive, running at them and being a presence out wide.”
Bedoya’s performance at the 2013 Gold Cup propelled him to six appearances in the team’s remaining eight matches that year and eventually on to the 2014 FIFA World Cup roster, where he appeared in all four matches for the U.S. and when healthy, has been a constant call-up to Klinsmann’s side.
“That semifinal gave me a lot of confidence,” he continued. “Since then I’ve tried to do my best for the national team and throughout 2014 and after the World Cup I think I’ve had some good, consistent performances. In terms of getting on the stat sheet, that semifinal with two assists is probably my best.”
Including the team’s two victories against Honduras in Dallas, the U.S. is 5-0-1 all-time against Los Catrachos in Gold Cup play.
Fourteen years to the day of Tuesday’s opener, the teams played to a 0-0 draw before the U.S. defeated Honduras 4-3 on penalty kicks to lift the inaugural 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
After meeting in 1993, the teams wouldn’t match up again until the 2005 semifinals when late goals from John O’Brien and Oguchi Onyewu pushed the U.S. to a 2-1 win at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
The sides met twice during the 2009 tournament, with the U.S. using goals from Santino Quaranta and Brian Ching to earn a 2-0 victory during group play at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Clarence Goodson and Kenny Cooper scored for another 2-0 win against Honduras in the semifinal at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
The most recent Gold Cup meeting was the 2013 semifinal where Eddie Johnson scored in the 11th minute before Donovan put the game away with goals in the 27th and 53rd minutes in the 3-1 win.
It’s hard to tell if any young player will grow up to be elite. Beyond skill level, so many factors play in to the equation: size, fitness, physicality, athleticism and mentality all seem to matter. Yet one very underrated quality is the soccer brain – the understanding of the game and what it means to be successful in it.
While you certainly couldn’t have predicted with a ton of certainty that Michael Bradley would earn 100 caps for the United States, few if any American players can compare to the soccer schooling the U.S. Gold Cup captain received from a very young age.
Former U.S. assistant coach and current New York Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch played under Bob Bradley at Princeton in the early 1990s, where his first glimpses of Michael’s soccer potential came when the U.S. midfielder was only three years old.
“His mom would drop him off at our college practice sessions after he was done with day care,” Marsch told ussoccer.com. “He’d come running out of the car onto the field and start kicking balls with the guys right away. He was just so hungry for the game, he was so hungry to play with the guys after, to watch the team train, and you could always see glimpses of his soccer mind.”
Even at five years old, Marsch said you could see the makings of a great soccer player in Bradley in the way that he arranged for his first touch and he would deliver and receive passes.
As time went on, Michael moved from training sessions at Princeton to his dad’s post as an assistant coach at D.C. United and the head job with the Chicago Fire – two of the most successful clubs in the early days of Major League Soccer. Like Michael, Marsch followed Bob each step of the way.
“Whether it was with Princeton, D.C. United or the Chicago Fire, he’d wait patiently and watch training for 90 minutes just to get a chance at the end to maybe play 2v2 with a couple guys on the team,” Marsch continued. “It’s not to say any of us saw that he would become what he has, but I think we could all see he loved the game and he tried to hone his skills on a daily basis. It was going to give him a chance to be pretty good.”
Bradley spent his most formative years in Chicago. When young American players were spending time at a week-long soccer camp, Bradley was spending his entire summer watching and honing his skills against the likes of international icons Peter Nowak and Hristo Stoichkov as well as rising American stars Marsch, Chris Armas, DaMarcus Beasley, Josh Wolff and Ante Razov.
“He wasn’t like a regular kid who was interested in doing other things,” recalled Razov. “Everything he wanted to do was soccer.”
“We’d put him into some possession games and sure he’s a little kid, but he was still able to connect passes and move. The way he carried himself and went about his business there, you could kind of sense that he was different. He was willing to do anything – haul equipment, clean shoes, anything to be a part of the team. Some guys might have wondered why they were training against this kid, but there were a lot of times where he wasn’t the worst one at training as a 12-year-old.”
Having impressed with his club side the Chicago Sockers, Bradley joined the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. It was clear that the skills and soccer brain were there, but according to Marsch the question of whether or not he could make the next step came down to his physical growth.
“Michael was a late bloomer in terms of his maturity so he didn’t physically seem like he was going to be that athletic,” said Marsch. “No one knew how his body was going to grow or how athletic he was going to be. He always had the feel for the game, but you never knew if the physical part would come along. He’s down in Bradenton and then all of a sudden at 16 years old he just shot up over 6 feet. He must have grown six or seven inches over a year and the next time I saw him, he was a man.”
In 2004, Bradley left U-17 Residency at age 16 to sign a MLS contract and was drafted by the MetroStars, where Bob had taken over as head coach the season before. In his first two seasons as a pro, Bradley appeared in 30 matches, but endured his difficult challenge when Bob was dismissed as head coach with a few matches left in the 2005 seasons.
Having watched Bradley grow as a player in Chicago, Razov played as his teammate with the MetroStars in 2005.
“You could see through what was a difficult time for everyone in New York -- with the situation of the club and Bob being the coach and then not being the coach -- you saw this young man who had to handle pressure that most that age wouldn’t have any idea how to deal with. He took it in stride and kept working.”
After the 2005 season, Bradley transferred to Dutch club Heerenveen and got his first run with the U.S. side as a substitute in their final two send-off friendlies prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup. When his dad took over the U.S. side later that year, Michael was part of a new wave of young players that began the 2010 World Cup cycle for the United States.
Just before the 2007 Gold Cup, things came full circle when Michael had the opportunity to suit up with Razov and Marsch in a U.S. friendly against China. With both playing for Chivas USA, who were idle that weekend, Bob called the duo up to help fill out his training camp roster.
“I was on the bench watching the game and I remember thinking that he belonged and deserved to be there,” said Marsch. I was excited to watch his progress over the years and see what he had developed into and then to top it off, I played the last 10 minutes of the match next to him in midfield.”
Days after the U.S. lifted the 2007 Gold Cup title, Bradley was off to Canada to play in the FIFA U-20 World Championships where he starred with future senior teammate Jozy Altidore as the U.S. advanced to the tournament’s quarterfinal stage.
Eight years on, Altidore has played with Bradley at two FIFA World Cups and in 50 of his 99 international appearances. The fact that the 27-year-old Bradley will become the fourth youngest U.S. player to hit 100 caps on Tuesday night comes as no surprise to the U.S. forward.
“From the first day I met him, he struck me as a guy that was always eager to improve, always eager to learn and give his best,” said Altidore. “His mentality is what sets him apart from a lot of professionals. His will to win, improve and give everything everyday is phenomenal – it’s not easy at this level. It’s the reason he’s already hitting 100 caps.”
“Beyond the playing side, as a person, he’s got a good heart. He’s a good guy and deep down he’s soft as a marshmallow,” Altidore joked. “He cares about people close to him and that’s just as important as anything else when you talk about a great teammate.”
Hitting the century mark at such a young age will inevitably bring questions of how close Bradley can come to Cobi Jones’ U.S. record of 164 caps, wherever he lands when his international career comes to an end, according to Marsch, he’s already done much to cement himself as one of the top U.S. midfielders of all-time.
“I would say Michael is the best box-to-box midfielder the U.S. has ever had. The physical attributes along with his soccer mind and technical ability, his fearlessness, proficiency around the goal, mentality to defend and make plays that matter for the team. The whole package is unique. I don’t know that the U.S. has ever produced a player like him.
He has talents and gifts, but it’s so much more about the mentality. His mentality to be the best, to work on his game, to be good in the hardest games and hardest moments, that to me is what’s made him unique and special. I can’t imagine another box-to-box midfielder being more suited for the way that the U.S. plays than Michael and it’ll be a long time before we see another play like him.”
U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Honduras
Toyota Stadium; Frisco, Texas
July 7, 2015
The United States Men’s National team’s journey to defend its title in the 2015 Gold Cup begins against Honduras on July 7. The game will be played at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. CT and the match will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1, UniMás and Univision Deportes Network.
It was just two years ago that the pair squared off in the Gold Cup semifinals in a match that also took place in the Dallas area, at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington. The USA knocked Honduras out of the tournament, winning 3-1 to advance to the final where it would ultimately claim its fifth Gold Cup trophy.
The USA and Honduras have faced off six different times in the Gold Cup and the U.S. is an unbeaten 5-0-1 in those matches. The lone draw came in the first ever tournament in 1991, and while all was level at the end of regulation, the MNT won the tournament in penalty kicks.
The teams have matched up 22 different times in total. The MNT has outscored its Central American opponent 37-21, while going 14-4-4.
U.S. ROSTER NOTES:
- Sixteen players on this roster were a part of the MNT’s 2014 FIFA World Cup squad, marking the highest return rate of players between the two rosters in years where the Gold Cup has followed the FIFA World Cup (1991, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2013).
- Six players were a part of the USA team that won the Gold Cup in 2013: Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Mix Diskerud, Omar Gonzalez, Nick Rimando and Chris Wondolowski
- The USA has reached the Gold Cup Final in five straight tournaments and six out of the last seven. The team finished in third place in 2003 after losing to a Kaka-led Brazil.
- Clint Dempsey (15), Michael Bradley (11) and Beckerman (11) have all played in more than 10 Gold Cup games. Bedoya and Wondolowski are also experienced players on the roster with eight Gold Cup caps each.
- Thirteen players on the roster have previously played in the Gold Cup, of which 10 have lifted the trophyThe 23 players on the roster average 30 international appearances with 14 having played in a minimum of 20 matches for the U.S. MNT
- The USA has won the Gold Cup five times (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013) and finished as the runner-up four times (1992, 1998, 2009, 2011). The MNT has finished outside of the top four only once (2000).
- Dempsey (5), Wondolowski (5), Beckerman, Bradley, and Diskerud, have all scored goals in previous Gold Cups. All five of Wondolowski’s goals came in the 2013 Gold Cup, where he tied for the tournament’s Golden Boot.
- Dempsey is the only two-time winner (2005, 2007) and the only three-time participant.
- Nine different players from this roster have scored for the USA in 2015: Jozy Altidore, Bradley, John Brooks, Timmy Chandler, Dempsey, Diskerud, Aron Johannsson, Chris Wondolowski and Gyasi Zardes.
- Michael Bradley will captain the MNT for the USA’s run in the Gold Cup. Bradley has started as the team’s captain in six straight matches.
- Brad Evans assisted on the game-winning goal in the team’s win over the reigning World Cup champion.
- Tim Ream has earned honors as the Bolton Wanderers Player of the Year in each of the last two seasons
- Against Netherlands on June 5, Brad Guzan made his first appearance since he played against Colombia on Nov. 14, 2014. It was his first start of 2015. Also picking up wins against Germany and Guatemala, Guzan is a perfect 3-0-0 in 2015.
- Fabian Johnson helped lift Borussia Mönchengladbach to a third-place finish in the Bundesliga that earned the club a spot in the 2016 UEFA Champions League group stage. The German side went 10-0-2 with Johnson in the starting lineup this season.
- Johannsson recorded four goals in his final three matches as AZ Alkmaar snatched the third spot in the Dutch Eredivisie and a place in the 2016 UEFA Europa League.
- Alfredo Morales played a key role in FC Ingolstadt securing first place in the second division in Germany and subsequent promotion to the Bundesliga.
- Bradley has played every minute of the USA’s seven matches so far in 2015. In addition to Bradley, two other MNT players have appeared in all seven games this year: Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin.
- Graham Zusi was both part of the team that represented the U.S. in the World Cup last summer and made his first appearance of 2015 in the match against Guatemala
- William Yarbrough, 26, was born and raised in Mexico to two American parents. He has marshaled the backline for Club Leon to the 2013 Apertura and 2014 Clausura titles.
- Ventura Alvarado has appeared in six straight matches since making his debut in a U.S. uniform on March 25 against Denmark. Alvarado is a regular starter for the Club America team that captured the CONCACAF Champions League title and a trip to the FIFA Club World Cup. Alvarado has started three of the last four games for the U.S. MNT, in which the team is 4-0-0.
- Seven leagues from six countries are represented on the roster: Canada, England, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands and the United States.
- Altidore leads the team in points with five in 2015 on two goals and an assist.
USA vs. Honduras:
- The teams’ last meeting ended in a 1-1 draw in Boca Raton Florida. Jozy Altidore scored the goal for the USA, which was assisted by Michael Bradley.
- Since 2002, the MNT has lost to Honduras on U.S. soil only once (11-1-1)
- In 2013, prior to the meeting in the Gold Cup, the teams met for a pair CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers. The first took place in February in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where the Central Americans won, 2-1, to take their first home win against the U.S. since 1965. Clint Dempsey put the U.S. ahead early, but after Juan Carlos Garcia leveled in the 40th minute Jerry Bengston followed with a late goal in the 79th to put Honduras over the top. The U.S. responded in the game later that year, winning 1-0 in the Qualifier in the Sandy, Utah. Jozy Altidore netted the game winning goal in that matchup
- This will be the sixth game between the teams during Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure as head coach (3-1-1).
- The United States is 14-4-4 all-time against Honduras and is unbeaten in the last three games
- The MNT is 12-0-0 all-time in CONCACAF Gold Cup openers since 1991.
- The MNT is 5-0-0 all-time in CONCACAF Gold Cup play in the Dallas metro area.
- The team has twice played Honduras in the Gold Cup in the Dallas metro area.
- The team used a 29th minute goal from Alexi Lalas to defeat los Catrachos 1-0 in group play on July 17, 1993.
- More recently, a brace from Landon Donovan and another goal from Eddie Johnson let the MNT past Honduras 3-1 in the 2013 Gold Cup semifinals. Current U.S. player Alejandro Bedoya assisted on the second and third goals in the 3-1 win.
- The MNT is 5-0-1 all-time against Honduras in CONCACAF Gold Cup play.
- Fourteen years to the day of Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener, the U.S. and Honduras faced off in the Gold Cup Final in 1991. After played to a 0-0 draw over 120 minutes, Fernando Clavijo scored what would be the winning spot kick as the U.S. defeated Honduras 4-3 on penalties to lift the inaugural Gold Cup title.
Last Time Out:
The USA completed its Gold Cup preparations with a 4-0 win against Guatemala on July 3 in front of a state-record crowd of 44,835 fans in Nashville, Tennessee.
- Brad Guzan earned his 10th career shutout
- Timmy Chandler scored his first international goal, Clint Dempsey tallied his 41st and Chris Wondolowski scored his 10th
Spotlight: Michael Bradley
- Captain Michael Bradley is on track to earn his 100th cap in the match. He now has 99 appearances since debuting for the USA in 2006. He would be the fourth youngest U.S. player to 100 caps, behind Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones and Marcelo Balboa.
- Five of Bradley’s 99 caps have come against Honduras, with the team going 4-1-0 in those matches.
IN FOCUS: Honduras
Federación Nacional Autónoma de Fútbol de Honduras
FIFA Affiliation: 1946
Head Coach: Jorge Luis Pinto
FIFA World Ranking: 75
Best World Cup Finish: Group Stage 1982, 2010, 2014
Best Gold Cup Finish: Runners-up 1991
Leading Cap-Winner: Amado Guevara (138)
Leading Goalscorer: Carlos Pavon (57)
Guatemala Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Donis Escober (Olimpia/Honduras); Luis Lopez (Real España/Honduras); Noel Valladares (Olimpia/Honduras)
DEFENDERS (8): Ever Alvarado (Olimpia/Honduras); Brayan Beckeles (Boavista/Portugal); Wilmer Crisanto (Motagua/Honduras); Maynor Figueroa (Unattached); Henry Figueroa (Motagua/Honduras); Bryan Garcia (Vida/Honduras); Johnny Leveron (Marathon/Honduras); Johnny Palacios (Olimpia/Honduras)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Bryan Acosta (Real España/Honduras); Jorge Claros (Qingdao Jonoon/China); Carlos Discua (Motagua/Honduras); Oscar Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo/USA); Mario Martinez (Real España/Honduras); Alfredo Mejia (Panthrakikos FC/Greece); Andy Najar (Anderlecht/Belgium); Romell Quioto (Olimpia/Honduras)
FORWARDS (4): Erick Andino (Victoria/Honduras); Rubilio Castillo (Motagua/Honduras); Eddie Hernandez (Motagua/Honduras); Antony Lozano (Olimpia/Honduras)
- Six players from the Honduras 2013 Gold Cup roster are a part of this group for 2015 and seven players from its 2014 World Cup team return for this tournament
- Honduras is 18-17-6 all-time in the Gold Cup and has gone 2-4-2 in 2015.
- Midfielder Andy Najar spent three years in MLS with D.C. United, before moving on to Belgium. The 22-year-old is a starter for Anderlecht and scored a goal against Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League last October.
- Jorge Luis Pinto is an experienced manager. This will be his first big tournament at the Honduran helm. Last summer he led Costa Rica to the quarterfinals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This will also be Pinto’s first match against the U.S. MNT as coach of Honduras. With Costa Rica his record against the USA was 2-2-0. Pinto earned honors as the CONCACAF coach of the year in 2014
- The roster is almost entirely domestic. Seventeen players on the 23 man roster play for Honduras club teams, with six competing for Olimpia
- 30-year-old Boniek Garcia is the oldest player on the roster and plays in MLS with Houston Dynamo , while 21-year-old Bryan Acosta is the youngest.
On the field against Honduras:
October 14, 2014 – FAU Stadium – Boca Raton, Florida – International Friendly
USA 1 Jozy Altidore (Michael Bradley) 10th minute
Honduras 1 Maynor Figueroa (Emilio Izaguirre) 86th munute
USA: 22-Nick Rimando; 21-Timmy Chandler, 13-Jermaine Jones, 5-Matt Besler (16-Tim Ream, 64), 14-Greg Garza; 19-Graham Zusi (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 64), 10-Mix Diskerud (9-Miguel Ibarra, 90), 4-Michael Bradley (6-Alfredo Morales, 75), 11-Alejandro Bedoya (15-Joe Corona, 78); 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.) (23-Bobby Wood, 64), 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs Not Used: 3-Michael Orozco, 12-Bill Hamid, 18-Chris Wondolowski
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann
HON: 22-Donis Escober; 13-Wilmer Crisanto, 3-Maynor Figueroa (capt.), 5-Victor Bernárdez, 7-Emilio Izaguirre; 20-Jorge Claros (23-Edder Delgado, 46), 19-Luis Garrido, 14-Oscar Boniek García (8-Juan Josue Rodríguez, 69), 17-Andy Najar (10-Mario Martínez, 62); 9-Alberth Elis (12-Marvin Chávez, 75), 21-Roger Rojas (11-Romell Quioto, 46)
Subs Not Used: 1-Kevin Hernández, 4-Henry Figueroa, 6-Bryan Acosta, 15-Wilfredo Barahona, 16-Javier Portillo
Head Coach: Hernan Medford
More than 7,000 of the #BestFansInTheWorld gathered in Chicago's Lincoln Park on Sunday to watch the USA take on Japan in the Final of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. The free and open to the public event was organized by U.S. Soccer with support from the Chicago Park District and featured a 19-by-33 foot, high definition screen. Fans were able to purchase merchandise and food and beverages, and there was also a variety of free activities for fans to enjoy while cheering for the USA.
As the final whistle blew at BC Place in Vancouver and the U.S. WNT became World Champions, there was a lot to celebrate. It began on the field, where players saluted fans, friends, and family. Medals were given and the trophy was hoisted, but that was just the beginning. The team then participated in a photo shoot with the World Cup trophy, creating memories to last a lifetime before they headed to Fan HQ to continue the celebration.
The USA is now the only country to win three Women's World Cups and is the country to score the most goals (five) in a WWC final -- no other team has scored more than two. The WNT will return to the USA for a pair of friendly matches against Costa Rica on Aug. 16 and Aug. 19 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Chattanooga, Tennessee, respectively, before embarking on their nationwide celebration tour (details to be announced).