USMNT: Gold Cup group stage opponents include Panama, Haiti - Sports Illustrated

USMNT's Gold Cup group stage opponents include Panama, Haiti

The CONCACAF Gold Cup final will be played in Philadelphia.
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The United States will play Panama, Haiti and either Honduras or French Guiana in the group stage of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the confederation announced Thursday. 

CONCACAF also announced the tournament's final final will played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

The tournament is scheduled to start July 7, with the knockout stages taking place July 18-19. The semifinals will be on July 22, and the final will be played on July 26.

The United States, which won the Gold Cup in 2013, is in Group A. The U.S. defeated Panama in the 2013 Gold Cup final.


Jurgen Klinsmann's side will play its first Group A match on July 7 at Toyota Stadium, in Frisco, Texas, against either Honduras or French Guiana. The team will play its second group game on July 10 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., against Haiti.

The Americans will conclude the group stage with a match against Panama on July 13 at Sporting Park in Kansas City.

"Right away it puts you on your toes and you have to start the competition focused, concentrated and determined from the first game on," Klinsmann said in a statement. "Having Panama in there - who we played the final against in the last Gold Cup - and most likely Honduras are very strong teams. We also have a close look at Haiti. We badly want to win this tournament because we want to qualify for Russia 2017. This is huge to us. The best way to do this is to win this summer so we avoid a playoff game in October."

The quarterfinals of the tournament will be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore and MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, while the semifinals will be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. 

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Philadelphia's PPL Park, home of the Philadelphia Union, will host the third-place match, which is being held for the first time since 2003. 

Other sites for the tournament include Carson, Calif.; Toronto; Chicago; Glendale, Ariz; and Charlotte, N.C.

If the United States wins the tournament, it will seal a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup. If another team wins, the USA will play that side in a playoff to determine the region's entrant into the competition. 

- Scooby Axson