The Gold Cup was the scene of Canada's greatest achievement of the last 20 years. Indeed, its 2000 Gold Cup victory stands as the only bright spot for a program that has languished and fallen far behind its North American rivals, the United States and Mexico.
The national team program is in transition. It hasn't had a full-time head coach since Frank Yallop left a year ago to return to MLS as the coach of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Dale Mitchell won't take over as his replacement until after the U-20 World Cup in Canada. Interim coach Stephen Hart will coach Canada at the Gold Cup.
Canada has a considerable pool of talent to draw upon from overseas and now in MLS.
A pair of former U.S. collegians -- Clemson's Paul Stalteriand UC Santa Barbara's Rob Friend -- return from English Premier League club Tottenham and Dutch club Heerenveen for the Gold Cup. Julian De Guzman will miss the last two games of La Liga season with Deportivo Coruna if Canada makes it out of group play.
In last Friday's 2-2 tie with Venezuela in Maracaibo, Hart started five MLS players: Toronto FC's Greg Sutton and Adam Braz, the Los Angeles Galaxy's Ante Jazic and Kevin Harmse and the Houston Dynamo's Dwayne de Rosario.
A late addition to the squad was Houston Dynamo keeper Pat Onstad, who returns after a three-year absence. The 29-year-old Onstad was called in after former Hartwick keeper Joshua Wagenaar, now at Dutch club ADO, suffered a back injury.
GOLD CUP RECORD:
Record:9 wins, 8 losses, 6 ties
Goalkeepers:Robert Giacomi (Beveren/BEL), Pat Onstad (Houston Dynamo/USA), Greg Sutton (Toronto FC).
Defenders:Adam Braz (Toronto FC), Gabriel Gervais (Montreal Impact), Andrew Hainault (Said Most/CZE), Richard Hastings (Inverness CT/SCO), Ante Jazic (Los Angeles Galaxy/USA), Chris Pozniak (Toronto FC), Marco Reda (Toronto FC), Paul Stalteri (Tottenham/ENG).
Midfielders:Patrice Bernier (Tromso FC/SWE), Julian De Guzman (Dep. Coruna/ESP), Kevin Harmse (Los Angeles Galaxy/USA), Atiba Hutchinson (FC Copenhagen/DEN), Nik Ledgerwood (1860 Munich/GER), Issey Nakajima-Farran (Vejle/DEN), Martin Nash (Vancouver Whitecaps), Antonio Ribeiro (Montreal Impact).
Forwards:Dwayne DeRosario (Houston Dynamo/USA), Rob Friend (Heerenveen/NED), Ali Gerba (IFK Gothenburg/SWE), Iain Hume (Leicester City/ENG).