clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2019 Gold Cup Group D Primers, Previews, TV Schedule - Guyana, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, United States

The USMNT gets a chance to redeem themselves against Trinidad and Tobago, but this isn’t a revenge game - it’s where the USA starts over from their failed 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.

Trinidad & Tobago v United States - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Ashley Allen/Getty Images

The road back to the World Cup begins tonight for the United States, as Gregg Berhalter takes charge for his first major tournament as head coach of the USMNT against Guyana.

The Golden Jaguars have never played on the regional stage, and will be a longshot to make the knockout stages with other regional regulars Panama and Trinidad waiting in the wings. But making it out of the group stages is no longer a sure thing for the US.

The Americans are still wary of their World Cup qualifying loss at Trinidad two years ago, and don’t call this group stage match a revenge game - all Trinidad did was keep the US home with them from Russia. The USA has expectations to win the Gold Cup every tournament while Trinidad is looking for their first knockout stage win since 2002 and didn’t make the tournament in 2017. But this is CONCACAF, we should expect weird things to happen all the time, and the US struggling in World Cup qualification was a good wake up call for the program.

And let’s not forget about Panama, who also had significant success against the USMNT in the 2017 cycle. They beat the US on PKs in the third place game of the 2015 Gold Cup, and tied them in the group stage in 2017 tournament and 2017 qualifier in Panama. Yes, Panama’s longtime veteran group led by keeper Jaime Penedo retired after the World Cup but that doesn’t change Panama’s status in the region at all. Los Canaleros are will never be an easy out in this tournament and while the USA are heavy favorites for the group, three wins are not guaranteed.

Gregg Berhalter could be the man in charge when North America hosts the expanded 2026 World Cup, that gives him two cycles to shape an up and coming group of pretty talented players into a dominant national side in CONCACAF. Christian Pulisic still has an undefined position on this team and eventual replacements need to be found around him as Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore can’t play forever. Well, maybe MB90 could, but I digress.

The USA has to prove to everyone again that they are still one of the best two teams in the region, and the only way to do that is to get back to the final and defend their Gold Cup title. That means taking care of business against two good regional teams in Panama and Trinidad, and I don’t mean grinding out results or draws - I mean controlling the game for like 75 minutes and winning by multiple goals type of results to be prepared for Mexico and others in the knockout stages.

TV SCHEDULE

Tuesday, June 18

7:30 p.m.: Panama vs. Trinidad & Tobago at Allianz Field, St. Paul, Minn.

Fox Sports 1, UniMás and Univision Deportes

10 p.m.: United States vs. Guyana at Allianz Field, St. Paul, Minn.

Fox Sports 1, UniMás and Univision Deportes

Saturday, June 22

5:30 p.m.: Guyana vs. Panama at FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland

— Fox Sports 2, Univision and Univision Deportes

8 p.m.: United States vs. Trinidad & Tobago at FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland

— Fox Sports 1, Univision and Univision Deportes

Wednesday, June 26

6:30 p.m.: Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guyana at Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kan.

Fox Sports 2, UniMás, and Univision Deportes

9 p.m.: Panama vs. United States at Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kan.

Fox Sports 2, UniMás, and Univision Deportes

TEAM PRIMERS

GUYANA [GUY/D4]

Head Coach: Michael Johnson (ENG)

FIFA Ranking: 177

Nickname: Golden Jaguars

Qualification: Nations League 7th Place

Appearance: 1st / Best Finish: N/A (Debut)

Roster Breakdown: 4 Domestic, 11 England, 2 USA, 2 England, 1 Suriname, 1 Netherlands, 1 Wales, 1 Trinidad and Tobago

Player To Watch: FWD Emery Welshman, Forge FC (CAN), 9 Int’l Appearances, 7 Goals - The on loan Cincinnati FC player has extensive experience in the US dating back to his college days with Oregon State and Siena and scored the winner in qualifying against Belize to get Guyana into qualifying.

Tournament Outlook

This is a brutal draw for the debutante Golden Jaguars, as the lowest ranked side having to go up against three Hex teams in the region. The roster is an interesting mix of players mostly from the pro/lower tiers in the English pyramid and a some of those players came up in the youth ranks of EPL teams. They lost both their warm up friendlies to Haiti and Bermuda before the tournament, but they have nothing to lose and their coach knows it.

PANAMA [PAN/D2]

Head Coach: Julio Dely Valdes (PAN)

FIFA Ranking: 75

Nickname: Los Canaleros

Qualification: The Hex, 3rd Place

Appearance: 9th / Best Finish: Runners up (2005, 2013)

Roster Breakdown: 7 Domestic, 5 USA/Canada/MLS, 2 Spain, 2 Bolivia, 1 Uruguay, 1 Guatemala, 1 Israel, 1 Slovakia, 1 Peru, 1 Chile, 1 Saudi Arabia

Player To Watch: DEF Roman Torres, Seattle Sounders (USA), 110 Int’l Appearances, 10 Goals - One of the last of Panama’s “Old Guard”, Torres was the breakout star for Panama at last years World Cup and the Canaleros captain continues to preform well for the Sounders.

Tournament Outlook

Jamie Penedo, Felipe Baloy, Blas Perez, and Luis Tejeda aren’t walking through that door anymore, they rode off into the sunset after the World Cup and they all deserved that. Panama still has some solid depth overall and Gabriel Torres up top, so they’ll always be a tough out but in the years to come, they’ll have to replace a lot of that depth. Of the regional powers, they’re still a darkhorse for a knockout stage run but their post-World Cup results have been very poor, understandable due to the retiring generation. An opening win over Trinidad would set them up nicely for a quarterfinals appearance.

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO [TRI]

Head Coach: Dennis Lawrence (TRI)

FIFA Ranking: 92

Nickname: Soca Warriors

Qualification: The Hex, 6th Place

Appearance: 10th / Best Finish: Semifinals (2002)

Roster Breakdown: 7 Domestic, 12 USA, 3 Saudi Arabia, 1 Israel

Player To Watch: FWD Kevin Molino, Minnesota United (USA), 44 Int’l Appearances, 19 Goals - Molino is the only double digit goal scorer on the squad for Trinidad and the highest active scorer for the team since Kenwyne Jones retired.

Tournament Outlook

Everyone will focus on the USA’s potential revenge game with Trinidad cause we’re still mad the USMNT couldn’t beat them in 2017. But Trinidad are a solid team and another of The Hex teams from 2017 that just simply haven’t played a lot of matches over the last two years and that casts some doubt on their ability to make a long run in the tournament. Despite that, any team in the Gold Cup that qualified via the 2017 Hexagonal should be respected and hopefully the USA remembers that game from two years ago.

UNITED STATES [USA/D1]

Head Coach: Gregg Berhalter (USA)

FIFA Ranking: 30

Nickname: The Yanks

Qualification: The Hex, 5th Place

Appearance: 15th / Best Finish: Champions (91, 02, 05, 07, 13, 17)

Roster Breakdown: 18 Domestic/MLS, 3 England, 1 Germany, 1 Portugal

Player To Watch: FWD Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew (USA), 45 Int’l Appearances, 7 Goals - Since moving to the Crew in 2018, Zardes has been averaging about a goal every other game (48 games, 25 goals). Yes, Jozy, Bradley and Pulisic are the big names, but if Zardes can carry over his club form, the USMNT should be able to meet their high expectations in this tournament.

Tournament Outlook

This is Berhalter’s first chance to guide the USMNT in meaningful games. He’s got an emerging star in Christian Pulisic, a young but talented backline, and still the veteran core of players who are familiar with the national team. An opening and dominant win against Guyana is expected, but the matches against Trinidad and Panama are also key. The US hasn’t had a lot of great results, including a warm up loss to Jamaica, and they shouldn’t have to prove they’re one of the best teams in the region, but that’s what finishing 5th in the Hex does. Good performances in the group stage will go along way to boosting the confidence of this team. A USA-Mexico final is expected, but not a guarantee and it hasn’t happened since 2011.

GROUP OVERVIEW

Let’s all assume the USMNT tops the group with at least seven points and goes into the quarterfinals. The real battle begins tonight with Panama-Trinidad, this could be for second place right out of the gate. Both Panama and Trinidad have struggled for results since the World Cup and both are solid enough teams to make the knockout stages. I’d lean towards Panama with their experience, even with the veterans no longer in the team, they can lean on making it to the semifinals in two of the last three Gold Cups in 2013 (where they lost the final to the USA) and 2015. A worthy quarterfinal team won’t make it out of this group, such is the luck of the draw. Hopefully the US is tested by this group and uses it to build up a solid tournament run back to the finals.

PREDICTIONS

(1) United States, (2) Panama, (3) Trinidad and Tobago, (4) Guyana