The stage is set for the 2015 Gold Cup to be one of the best yet. With teams coming off solid performances at the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as recent friendlies, teams will be sharp and ready for action. In honor of the kickoff of the tournament, we decided to put together our starting lineup for players to look out for in the Gold Cup:
Jaime Penedo (PAN)
The veteran goalkeeper is a constant in the Panama starting lineup. With 100 caps to his name, Penedo continues to shine. He had key roles in the 2005 & 2013 Panamanian Gold Cup runs, where they finished 2nd both times. Penedo also won the Golden Glove at the 2005 & 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is given to the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Expect big things from him in this edition of the Gold Cup.
Fabian Johnson (US)
The German born fullback has been a revelation for the US Men’s National Team ever since his switch of FIFA nationalities back in 2011. Since then, he has been capped 32 times, scoring 1 goal. Johnson is one of the bright leaders of the backline with his constant forays forward and his tireless efforts to get back making him an important player in the squad. Johnson is also the most capped player of the US defense.
Luis Henriquez (PAN)
Henriquez has been a regular starter for his country since his first senior call up in 2003. Since then, “Coco” has notched 75 appearances and registered 2 goals. He has represented Panama in 26 FIFA World Cup qualification matches and was a member of the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup team, who finished 2nd in the tournament. Henriquez has also been a part of the 2007 and 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup squads and is expected to be in the squad again for the 2015 edition.
Maynor Figueroa (HON)
While Figueroa favors the left back position at club level, we have decided to slot him in at center back because that is his usual position for Honduras. The backline utility player has 113 senior caps for Los Catrachos and 4 goals to his name. While he was recently released from English club, Hull City, Figueroa has always been a rock in the Honduran backline. He has featured in both the 2005 & 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cups as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Giancarlo Gonzalez (CRC)
Gonzalez, nicknamed “Pipo”, is one of the more exciting Costa Rican National Team players with 43 caps and 2 goals to his name. Pipo was one of the stalwart defenders that led his team to only allowing one goal in the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stage, which included a 3-1 defeat of Uruguay and a 1-0 defeat of Italy. He was included in the ESPN Best XI of the group stage as well as BBC’s team of the tournament.
Hector Herrera (MEX)
Herrera is the classic box-to-box midfielder that every soccer fan loves to watch. A starter in all 3 of Mexico’s group stages matches in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Herrera’s stock has been slowly rising. Those impressive performances have attracted big name clubs in search of his signature to the point that his club team Porto slapped a 40 million euro price tag on the midfielder. He is a player that makes a difference with excellent vision and passing ability.
Michael Bradley (US)
Captain America, Michael Bradley has been ever present in the US soccer setup since his breakout into the senior squad in 2006. Bradley just recently took the captain’s armband from Clint Dempsey and the pressure is only making his play better as shown in the side’s recent 4-0 demolition of Guatemala in a friendly. He is currently sitting on 99 caps for the national team, and there is no end in sight. He contributed heavily to the team in the 2010 & 2014 FIFA World Cups and there seems to be no reason why he won’t do the same in the Gold Cup.
Bryan Ruiz (CRC)
Ruiz is one of the more important Costa Rican National Team players and he has shown his importance time and time again, most recently in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Ruiz captained Los Ticos in the 3-1 defeat of Uruguay and scored the only goal in the 1-0 win over Italy. He even scored in the round of 16 to tie the game at 1-1 against Greece and scored in the penalty shootout to send Costa Rica to the quarters. Ruiz is slated to be one of the bright spots of the tournament if he can keep up his form. Definitely one to watch out for.
Joel Campbell (CRC)
While Campbell doesn’t have the match performance streak of fellow Costa Rican Nationalists Ruiz and Gonzalez, he is still fun to watch at his best and is important to the makeup of the squad. His most recent performances in the 2014 FIFA World Cup proved to be a sign of improvement as he sacred in the 3-1 victory of Uruguay and set up another. Campbell has been known to be hit or miss for his club teams, but given the right circumstances, he can flourish and be deadly in front of goal. Campbell is currently at 42 caps and 10 goals for Costa Rica.
Clint Dempsey (US)
Dempsey has broken record after record for the US National Team. He currently hold the record for the fastest goal in US history, scoring in 30 seconds against Ghana in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. His 113 caps and 41 goals have been invaluable to the team as Dempsey is becoming one of the greatest American soccer players of all time. He is always fun to watch due to his dedication and work ethic. Expect important goals and leadership from “Deuce” in the 2015 Gold Cup.
Carlos Vela (MEX)
Striker Carlos Vela is a player that most US National Team fans wish they had never heard of. In the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final, Vela came off the bench to create 2 goals, score 1, and assist another in the 5-0 defeat of the US. While since then Vela has had some trouble with the Mexican FA and various coaches, he is now back in the squad. His most recent appearance for the team was when he accepted a recall to the national team fold where he scored twice to defeat the Netherlands 3-2 in a friendly.
Brad Guzan (GK) (US)
Celso Borges (CM) (CRC)
Cyle Larin (F) (CAN)
That concludes our lineup of the players to look out for in the 2015 Gold Cup.
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