USA’s Stars and Stripes can book a direct spot at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup by winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which kicks off this week. The Americans, led by German icon Jurgen Klinsmann, boast a raft of players who starred at the FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil last year and go in as the team to beat, having won the tournament two years ago.
Should another challenger in the region lift the coveted trophy this time out, a play-off against holders and hosts the United States would be required to decide CONCACAF’s representative for the global competition in Russia. Six-time winners Mexico will be up there among the potential favourites, even without injured Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez.
The 12-team tournament runs from 7 to 26 July in 12 cities across the United States, plus two games in Canada. Costa Rica are also keen on their chances to pick up their first regional crown, topping the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking for CONCACAF heading into the tournament – the first time ever a Gold Cup has begun with USA or Mexico not leading the region. The rest of the competition will remember Los Ticos’ exploits in Brazil last summer, where they beat Italy and Uruguay en route to the quarter-finals in a sensational run.