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Donovan back on the U.S. team for Gold Cup and Costa Rica game in East Hartford

Landon Donovan is back with the U.S. national team and should be in uniform for next week's Gold Cup game with Costa Rica in East Hartford.

Landon Donovan is back with the U.S. national team and should be in uniform for next week’s Gold Cup game with Costa Rica in East Hartford. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Soccer)

For the U.S. men’s soccer team, the final game of a three-game, round robin qualifying session for the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament ends in East Hartford in a little over a week on Tuesday, July 16 when the Americans host Costa Rica at Rentschler Field at 8 p.m. 

It will be a rematch of a controversial World Cup qualifying game between the two nations in March when the Americans beat Costa Rica, 1-0 in the midst of a blizzard in Denver. 

The tournament also marks the return of midfielder Landon Donovan, who scored a historic goal for the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup tournament. His thrilling game-winning goal in the closing seconds of a 1-0 win over Algeria allowed the U.S. to win its group and advance to the quarterfinals. 

Donovan recently took five months off from soccer and missed three of the American’s first qualifying games for the 2014 World Cup tournament. He was left off the U.S. roster for its June qualifying contests although Donovan returned to full time play in March. 

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann added Donovan to the Gold Cup roster last week and Donovan had two goals in a 6-0 friendly victory over Guatemala on Friday, becoming the first American man to score 50 goals in international competition. It was his first match with the national team since August 2012. 

The Gold Cup is held every two years and is the regional championship of North American, Central American and the Caribbean. Before the American game against Costa Rica on Tuesday, Cuba will face Belize in the opening contest of the evening at 5:30 p.m. in East Hartford.

It will be the final two matches in the round-robin portion of the tournament with the quarterfinals set to begin on July 20 in Atlanta and July 21 in Baltimore. The top two teams in each of the three groups earns a spot in the quarterfinals. The U.S. will be in Group C with Costa Rica, Belize and Cuba.

Additional games in the 12-team tournament on July 7-28 will be held at the Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Miami, Portland and Salt Lake City. The Americans have won the Gold Cup four times, including 2005 and 2007. Mexico has won six times, including the last two tournaments in 2009 and 2011. 

“We are excited about a roster for the Gold Cup that really has a shot of winning it,” said Klinsmann. “The players that are representing us in this Gold Cup, they clearly know that this a huge opportunity to prove their value and their case to the coaching staff one year prior to the World Cup. So, two big things, one is to win the competition and two, allow the players to build their case for the World Cup.” 

The U.S. begins its round-robin portion of the tournament hosting Belize on Tuesday in Portland before traveling to Sandy, Utah to face Cuba at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday. 

“We are excited,” said Klinsmann. “The tournament improves every cycle and the level gets better and better. As the host, we get to play in different venues across the country, which is great for our fans. At the end of the day, we want to do well and make sure people understand that we want to be dominant in our region. Our goal is to win the competition.” 

The U.S. and Costa Rica have met six times in the Gold Cup, with the United States holding an undefeated 5-0-1 record against the Ticos including a 2-0 victory in the 2002 Gold Cup final. The Americans are 12-12-6 all time against Costa Rica. 

The men’s national team has never faced Belize, which is competing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time. The match on July 9 will be the USA’s first in Portland since a friendly with Kuwait in 1998. 

It has been nearly five years since the USA squared off against Cuba, with the last meeting occurring during the semifinal round of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying. The USA’s most recent match against Cuba in the Gold Cup came in 2005, when goals from Landon Donovan (2), DaMarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey gave the USA a 4-1 win in their opening match and set them on course to winning the championship. 

GOALKEEPERS (3) : Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

DEFENDERS (8) : Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga), Michael Orozco Fiscal (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (FC Augsburg)
MIDFIELDERS (7) : Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Helsinborg), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Jose Torres (Tigres); Brek Shea
FORWARDS (5) : Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Club Tijuana), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

GROUP A: Mexico, Panama, Canada, Martinique
GROUP B: Honduras, El Salvador, Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti
GROUP C: USA, Costa Rica, Belize, Cuba

(local time followed by EDT time)
First Round
Sunday, July 7 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)
Martinque 1, Canada 0
Panama 2, Mexico 1

Monday, July 8 – Red Bull Arena (Harrison, NJ)
El Salvador 2, Trinidad & Tobago 2
Houduras 2, Haiti 0

Tuesday, July 9 – JELD-WEN Field (Portland, OR)
Costa Rica vs. Cuba, 5:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. EDT)
Belize vs. USA, 8 p.m. (11 p.m. EDT)

Thursday, July 11 – CenturyLink Field (Seattle, WA)
Panama vs. Martinique, 5:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. EDT)
Mexico vs. Canada, 8 p.m. (11 p.m. EDT)

Friday, July 12 – Sun Life Stadium (Miami, FL)
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Haiti, 7 p.m.
Honduras vs. El Salvador, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 13 – Rio Tinto Stadium (Salt Lake City, UT)
USA vs. Cuba, 1:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. EDT)
Costa Rica vs. Belize, 4:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. EDT)

Sunday, July 14 – Sports Authority Field at Mile High (Denver, CO)
Martinique vs. Mexico, 1:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. EDT)
Panama vs. Canada, 4:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. EDT)

Monday, July 15 – BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston, TX)
El Salvador vs. Haiti, 6 p.m. (7 p.m. EDT)
Honduras vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 8:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. EDT)

Tuesday, July 16 – Rentschler Field (Hartford, CT) 
Cuba vs. Belize, 5:30 p.m. 
USA vs. Costa Rica, 8 p.m.

Saturday, July 20 – Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)
Group A runner-up vs. Group B runner-up, TBD (x)
Group A winner vs. Group B/C third-place, TBD (x)
x-matches scheduled for 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. EDT with order TBD

Sunday, July 21 – M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, MD)
Group B winner vs. Group C runner-up, TBD (y)
Group C winner vs. Group A/B third place, TBD (y)
y-matches scheduled for 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. EDT) with order TBD

Wednesday, July 24 – Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, TX)
X quarterfinal winners, TBD (z)
Y quarterfinal winners, TBD (z)
z-matches scheduled for 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. local (7 p.m. and 10 p.m. EDT) with order TBD

Sunday, July 28- Soldier Field (Chicago, IL)
Semifinal winners, 3 p.m. (4 p.m. EDT)

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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