USA to open their Gold Cup campaign against Belize

The Jurgen Klinsmann-led squad will get its Gold Cup campaign under against Belize.

U.S. vs. Belize
2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup
8 pm PT; Tuesday, July 9, 2013; JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Oregon
TV: Fox Soccer

The U.S. National Team roster for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup is riddled with players from around Major League Soccer. With Landon Donovan leading the cast of MLS stars and several other U.S. veterans on board, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is poised to make a strong run in the tournament with the aim of winning for the first time since 2007.

He will do so, however, without Sounders FC midfielder Brad Evans or forward Eddie Johnson after the two saw extended playing time in the World Cup qualifying matches held last month, pulling both away from Sounders FC for 24 days in May and June.

“Jurgen has been very cognizant of making sure that the MLS players don’t get burned out and used too much in these series of games. He made the commitment that if he used guys for the qualifying rounds, he would use a different set of guys in the Gold Cup,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s a good way to be and it allows him to look at other players.”

Evans seemed to be earmarked for the Gold Cup in January when he was invited to camp with many other MLS players. However, the Seattle midfielder showed enough in both his versatility to play all across the midfield and in his adaptability to thrive as a right back when needed. This summer, it was needed and he stepped up, playing all three World Cup qualifiers last month and helping the U.S. to three victories in those matches.

Although there are still players coming back from injuries that may supplant his starting role, Evans was not invited to join the team for the Group Stage matches. However, he and Johnson were both included on the team’s full roster and are eligible to join the team in later rounds of the tournament if needed.

Evans would be glad to be in Portland with the U.S. as they face Belize on Tuesday night in their first Group Stage match, but knows that he is needed with Sounders FC and that is where his priority lies at the moment.

“It’d be great to be down there, but at the same time, this is my club team. It’s a matter of picking and choosing the right moments,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s not up to me, but right now I want to be here getting results with this team.”

Among the notable MLS names with the U.S. in Portland are Donovan, 2012 MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski, new San Jose center back Clarence Goodson and the Real Salt Lake trio of Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran and Kyle Beckerman, along with others. Although it isn’t as illustrious as the World Cup qualifying team that included the likes of Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Tim Howard, it is still a formidable team that is motivated by the chance to earn a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup if they can win the tournament.

“Even though some of the countries have sent what you might call their ‘B’ team, having success in Gold Cup is still something that’s important to all of the countries in CONCACAF,” Schmid said.

Having two sets of matches locally is also a boon for Sounders FC. The Gold Cup is a tournament they have scouted in previous years and now with matches in Portland in Tuesday and Seattle on Thursday, they have the opportunity to stay local and still see eight different teams in person.

Will they take that chance to look at any players in particular?

“We’re always looking,” Schmid smiled.

Tuesday’s schedule at Portland’s JELD-WEN Field
5:30 pm PT – Costa Rica vs. Cuba
8 pm PT – Belize vs. USA

Thursday’s schedule at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field
5:30 pm PT – Panama vs. Martinique
8 pm PT – Canada vs. Mexico

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