The 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off tonight with Group A action from Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas - home of MLS' FC Dallas. Haiti and Panama will serve as the tournament's opener at 6:00PM with the United States and Honduras to follow at 8:30PM (both times central). The Houston Dynamo's Oscar Boniek Garcia and Luis Garrido, both called to the Honduran National Team, could feature in front of a sold out crowd of over 20,000.
Group minnows Haiti have only advanced to the knockout rounds twice in Gold Cup history (2002, 2009). In the most recent 2013 tournament, they knocked over Trinidad and Tobago 2-0, but lost to Honduras and El Salvador, earning a last place group finish. In their 2014 competition schedule, Haiti posted a 3-2-4 record with wins against Barbados, Martinique, and Cuba - all as participants in the 2014 Caribbean Cup.
Panama has found success in the Gold Cup, advancing into the knockout stages in every tournament since 2005. They have issued shock defeats of the United States in 2011 and Mexico (twice) in 2013. They reached the Final in the 2013 tournament, only to be bested by a Brek Shea goal in the 69' for a 1-0 loss. Panama are a good team and will look to make an interesting group even more intriguing by ensuring that a team of quality players (whether themselves, United States, or Honduras) could be sent home.
Honduras features a couple familiar faces in the Dynamo midfielders Boniek Garcia and Luis Garrido - the latter of which was a late call-up to the national team to replace the injured Ever Alvarado. "Los Catrachos" have had a rough go of it since the start of 2014, posting 13 losses in 23 matches, including a World Cup crash in Brazil where the Hondurans came up with three defeats and a -7 goal difference. The team is capable of physical and effective play but it's often a question of which team will show up to play. With both the US and Panama residing within the same group, Honduras will need to dig deep to continue their Gold Cup semi-final streak at the last three consecutive tournaments.
The United States enter the Gold Cup following four straight friendly victories against tough competition (Mexico, Netherlands, Germany, Guatemala). Because of their 2013 Final victory, the US is already guaranteed at least a playoff to compete in the 2017 Confederations Cup held in Russia, one year ahead of the next World Cup. By winning this Gold Cup, the US would get an automatic bye and head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is aiming directly for that result. Rather than develop youth talent, Klinsmann has called in trusted and reliable faces from campaigns in the last year or so to help capture back-to-back Gold Cup triumphs. That's what saw Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis enter camp before being ruled out by injury. DaMarcus Beasley, too, has come out of International retirement and still might find a place on the team when they enter the knockout stages.
Dynamo Theory will be live from Toyota Stadium this evening. Be sure to follow @HueyBosco and @DynamoTheory on Twitter to follow along. The first match can be seen beginning at 6:00PM (CDT) on FOX Sports 2 and UniMás; United States versus Honduras will be at 8:30PM (CDT) on FOX Sports 1 and UniMás.