In the first instalment of a series that will see the LOV mob cover the upcoming Gold Cup tournament, we profile the hosts and current holders - the United States.
Doing us a huge favour this time round is our old friend Mark Yesilevskiy, who writes thusly:
Manager: Jurgen Klinsmann
Everyone knows about Jurgen Klinsmann's career as a player as well as his time managing Germany and Bayern Munich. His time in the US is a little different. Klinsmann took over for the United States in July 2011 after the federation sacked Bob Bradley following a 2-4 loss to Mexico in that year's Gold Cup Final after going 2-0 up in the first 23 minutes of the match. It's no secret that US Soccer had chased Klinsmann for a while before finally getting their man.
Klinsmann's success for the United States has come in waves with losses against the likes of Costa Rica and Ecuador, both of which were totally different sides to the ones that played in the 2014 World Cup before following it up with four wins in a row against Venezuela, Panama, Scotland, and, most famously, Italy away. Under Jurgen Klinsmann, the US picked up first win at Mexico's Azteca stadium and their second competitive point ever at that ground.
The 2014 World Cup saw the US escape the group of death before losing to Belgium in extra time in the round of 16. After that, the Americans managed to beat the Czech Republic away in a friendly before finishing the year in rough fashion with a pair of draws to CONCACAF opponents, a home loss to Colombia, and a 4-1 away loss to Ireland.
2015 has been better for Klinsmann and the Yanks. In seven games, the Americans have lost just twice, away to Chile and away to Denmark. In those other five games, they have managed wins against Mexico, the Netherlands, and Germany with the two against the European powerhouses coming on their respective away grounds.
For the 2015 Gold Cup, Jurgen Klinsmann has gone with a lineup that's very heavy on experience. It's also the first time that the boss has given Tim Ream an actual chance in the side outside of some random European friendlies. Ream was called up by Klinsmann on three occasions in 2011 by was an unused substitute in two of those games (Costa Rica and Belgium) before getting 19 minutes in the aforementioned loss to Ecuador.
After that, Ream was left completely out in the cold by Jurgen, picking up a total of zero caps in both 2012 and 2013, despite beginning to come into his own at Bolton.
It was only after he won his first Player of the Year award that Klinsmann gave Ream another chance, calling him in for the Czech Republic friendly win. Since then, Ream has been called up to the national team an additional five times, picking up four caps in that space but always playing between 29 and two minutes in that stretch. Never more.
The rest of the squad is as follows:
Defenders: Venturo Alverado (Club America), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Tim Ream (Bolton Wanderers), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
Forwards: Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
Chances of Winning:
The US is always one of two favorites in this competition and you will typically see them and Mexico as the two going the farthest. The US group is made up of Panama, Haiti, and Honduras.
The top two teams in each group advance along with the top two third-place finishers meaning that only four of the 12 teams in the competition are actually knocked out in the first round.
The Americans should win their group with relative ease which would then see them face the 3rd place team that comes out of Group B or C in the quarterfinals.
Assuming both the US and Mexico do well in their groups (top two finishes), they would avoid each other in the quarters and semis with a potential meeting saved all the way in the final game.