NEW YORK (Tuesday, March 6, 2007) -- The United States will begin defense of its championship by facing Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago and El Salvador in Group B of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The first-round matches will be played in the Los Angeles and Boston suburbs.
The U.S. opens June 7 against Guatemala at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., at 9 p.m. (ET) and remain there for a meeting two days later with Trinidad & Tobago at 5 p.m. After a cross-country flight, the U.S. closes the group stage June 12 with El Salvador in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass at 7 p.m.
All three U.S. group matches will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and Spanish-language Telefutura.
"I think it's a fair group, but still a tough one," U.S. interim coach Bob Bradley said. "It gives us an opportunity to start with Guatemala, a team that we know well and we'll know better because we'll play them in March, and the opportunity to start by playing both games in Los Angeles. I think there are some very good parts to it for us."
In today's draw, four-time champion Mexico was matched with Cuba, Honduras and Panama in Group C. Canada is joined in Group A by Costa Rica, Guadaloupe and Haiti in the championship tournament for the region of North America, Central America and the Carribean.
The top two teams in each group, plus the two third-place finishers with the best records advance to the quarterfinals.
"These are difficult games," Bradley said. "All of the teams understand how important the Gold Cup is and come with game plans to defend at times and keep numbers behind the ball. There are certainly challenges with these kinds of games, but things that we feel in the long run make us better."
The U.S. hasn't faced Guatemala in the Gold Cup since 1996, when it won 3-0. Overall, the U.S. has a 9-4-4 record against Guatemala, but hasn't lost in the series since 1988 after dropping the first four meetings in the rivalry. The two nations will play in a friendly March 28 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.
The Americans have a 12-1-3 record versus Trinidad & Tobago, including a 2-0 record in the Gold Cup, but the nations haven't met in this competition since 1996. The most recent meetings came in World Cup qualifying with the U.S. winning 2-1 on the road and 1-0 at home in the final round in 2005.
Three of the last six meetings between the U.S. and El Salvador have come in Foxborough with the Americans winning by two goals in 1997, 2003 and 2004. The U.S. has won all three Gold Cup games with El Salvador by a cumulative 8-0 and holds a 12-1-4 advantage in the series.
While the U.S. has previously played 16 Gold Cup matches in Southern California (going 12-2-2), The Home Depot Center will become host for the first time to an official competition. The facility is home to the U.S. Soccer Federation National Training Center.
The U.S. has played five of its last 11 Gold Cup matches at Gillette, going 4-0-1.
"We had a very, very good camp in January, when we were based out of The Home Depot Center," Bradley said. "I think the players and staff understand everything that goes on (there). It allows us to work and prepare ourselves, so we feel that is a great place to start. The Home Depot Center is a stadium that all the players love."
The U.S. is 18-0-1 all-time in group play at the Gold Cup and captured the 2005 championship by defeating Panama in penalty kicks following 120 minutes of scoreless soccer in the final at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
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