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2015 Gold Cup Preview: Can the US repeat?

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The Yanks go for back to back CONCACAF championships.

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

The United States Men's National Team begins their title defense as they kick off the Gold Cup against Honduras in Frisco on July 7th. The US has made it to at least the semifinal round in every Gold Cup since 2000 and have won 4 of the last 7 championships, including a 1-0 victory against Panama in 2013. Even with a tough group that also includes Haiti, anything less than a group victory would be a shock given the Yanks recent form.

Presuming the United States win their group, perennial co-favorites Mexico do likewise, and dark horse Costa Rica (quarterfinalists at last year's World Cup) takes care of business, the USMNT will not face el Tri or the Ticos unless they make the finals. Given their tough slate of friendlies, it will be interesting to see how the Americans will play as prohibitive favorites for the next couple of weeks. Today's warm up against Guatemala (5:30pm CDT Fox Sports 1, Unimas, and UDN) should be good preparation against a team that will probably pack it in on the defensive end.

Notes:

Bradley named Captain- Jurgen Klinsmann has named Michael Bradley captain ahead of the tournament which is about as surprising as my cat begging for food. Some might infer it's a disciplinary move stripping Clint Dempsey of the captaincy after the shenanigans at the US Open Cup, but I think it's more a case of passing the torch. Dempsey is entering his golden years with the National Team, and there's a fair chance he isn't on the World Cup squad in 2018. Bradley is still relatively young at 27 and has been a leader for this team for 2 World Cups. It seems that now was as good a time as any to make the switch.

Mexico hurting- Going into this week's match in Houston against Honduras, El Tri had already lost Hector Moreno for the tournament with an injury. In their 0-0 draw against Los Catrachos, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez was bumped to the ground and fractured his collarbone which will knock him out of the tournament. After some good form to start the year, suddenly Mexico is winless in 7 entering a tournament that is considered 'must win' to save Miguel Herrera from getting fired.

2013 all over again?- Hearken back to the spring of 2013, and you'll remember Jurgen Klinsmann was on the ropes and an SI article suggested he had lost the room. Just before the Gold Cup that year, the US beat Germany which began a US record 12 game winning streak.

After a rough patch to end 2014 and in the beginning of 2015 that saw the US peculiarly vulnerable to giving up late goals, the US has righted the ship picking up wins against Mexico, the Netherlands, and an historic win against Germany in Cologne. If the US sweeps the friendly and the Gold Cup, they'll take a 10 game into a rumored friendly with Brazil in September.

Prediction: The US will get their sweep and repeat as Gold Cup champions with a defeat of Costa Rica in Philadelphia on July 26th (making the US 2 for 2 in international tournaments after the USWNT defeats Japan on Sunday). The US will qualify for the Confederations Cup with the win and avoid a playoff for the right to represent CONCACAF in the 2017 tournament (in Russia?).