First things first: USA seeks more Gold Cup hardware

A lot has been written about what the 2017 Gold Cup means for players seeking to be part of the USA's final push for the World Cup or on the plane to Russia next summer.

But that's jumping ahead.

U.S. coach Bruce Arena has his players focused on taking home the Gold Cup trophy, a reward, among other things, for, in the case of most players, 30 days on the road with seven games in seven states.

USA road to Santa Clara:
July 8: USA 1 Panama 1
June 12: USA 3 Martinique 2
June 15: USA 3 Nicaragua 0
June 19: USA 2 El Salvador 0
June 22: USA 2 Costa Rica 0

Arena knows what it's all about to win: at the University of Virginia and with D.C. United and the LA Galaxy. He'll become the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles if the USA beats Jamaica on Wednesday.

USA Probable XI -- Howard; Zusi, Gonzalez, Besler, Villafana; Arriola, Bradley, Acosta, Nagbe; Dempsey, Altidore.

But just five players in Arena's team have played in a Gold Cup final and won: Clint Dempsey in 2005, Tim Howard and Dempsey in 2007 and Matt Besler, Joe Corona and Omar Gonzalez (a late cameo off the bench) in 2013.

The national team careers of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore span 12 and 11 years, respectively, but neither player has played in the Gold Cup final and won of the USA's five championships.

Bradley was suspended for the 2007 final in which the USA beat Mexico, 2-1. He played when the USA lost to Mexico, 4-2, in the 2011 final and it fell to Jamaica, 2-1, in the 2015 semifinals.

Altidore exited the 2011 tournament after four games with a hamstring injury and he was replaced for the knockout stage in 2015 because of fitness issues. His Gold Cup jinx ended when he scored the winning goal in the USA's 2-0 win over Costa Rica in the semifinals.

"If you know Michael Bradley," said Arena, "everything is important to Micheal. He is a very serious professional, very focused. Jozy is excited to be in the final."

Bradley has repeated throughout the last week how Arena has pounded into his players' minds the notion that it isn't every day they get a chance to compete for a trophy.

The Gold Cup just happens to the trophy that will be sitting in Levi's Stadium waiting to be claimed on Wednesday night.

"Any athlete in any sport would like to compete for a championship, a trophy, a cup, however you want to describe it," Arena added. "Whether it is an accomplished player who has won many championships or a player that has not, he should be excited to be in the final."

6 comments about "First things first: USA seeks more Gold Cup hardware".
  1. R2 Dad, July 26, 2017 at 6:33 a.m.

    The Gold Cup doesn't matter, only the extra games it creates for the USMNT to develop players and chemistry. Having said that, how is it that Zusi is considered the second best right back in the entire country? Of all the more technical, younger/smarter/faster players coming up, why do we settle on a 30 year old journeyman? Is that all we really have?

  2. Eric Mills, July 26, 2017 at 8:57 a.m.

    @R2: The European players were not called in so that they could have a postseason break and then full preseason with their clubs. This roster is part pool-experimentation/part-MLS national team starters. Zusi was the best option for this tournament, not the best or second-best option overall.

  3. Brian Kraft, July 26, 2017 at 10:21 a.m.

    The Gold Cup doesn't matter TO YOU. I sent my national team to be champions of their region.

  4. Brian Kraft replied, July 26, 2017 at 10:21 a.m.

    Intended as a reply to R2Dad.

  5. John Mcdermott, July 26, 2017 at 11:21 a.m.

    Of course it matters. It's not a World Cup, or even World Cup qualification, but it not meaningless, not at all. Bruce knows that, even if some others might not agree.

  6. Nick Daverese, July 26, 2017 at 3:23 p.m.

    I would have loved to watch the entire practice not just part of the practice.

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