The opening weekend of the Gold Cup will feature plenty of NYCFC players. Sean Johnson, Miguel Camargo, and Rodney Wallace will all be in action this weekend as they seek to get their tournament campaigns off to a strong start.
Rodney Wallace: Costa Rica vs. Honduras
WHEN: Friday, 9:30 PM ET
WHERE: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ
HOW TO WATCH: Fox Sports 2
Rodney Wallace is set to suit up for Costa Rica tonight as they partake in the second match of an opening-night Gold Cup doubleheader. Los Ticos and Los Catrachos are fierce CONCACAF rivals, and this match will go a long way toward deciding their Group A fate.
Costa Rica are co-favorites to advance to the knockout rounds with tonight's opponents and Canada, but a loss tonight suddenly puts them in a precarious position. For a squad like Costa Rica, who have brought their best possible squad to this tournament, starting off with a win is of paramount importance.
With names like Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell highlighting the squad alongside Wallace, it's no secret that Costa Rica is aiming to win their first-ever Gold Cup trophy this time around. With perennial favorites United States and Mexico fielding "B" teams in this edition of the tournament, they'll certainly have a shot.
However, Honduras represent a strong test, and might end up being darkhorse title contenders, themselves. Wallace, who will be making his first Gold Cup appearance since 2013, will need to be on his best attacking form. Honduras, who boast Aberth Elis, Romell Quioto, and other young stars, could turn this match into a shootout.
Sean Johnson and Miguel Camargo: United States vs. Panama
WHEN: Saturday, 4:30 PM ET
WHERE: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
HOW TO WATCH: FOX
NYCFC's Sean Johnson and Miguel Camargo will face off in a battle of familiar Gold Cup foes when the United States take on Panama this Saturday under the late afternoon skies of Nashville, Tennessee.
Panama presents a unique challenge to the Americans as they kick off their quest to win the tournament for the first time since 2013, and even though they're among the tournament favorites, fans should know better than to look past a Panamanian side that have caused the USA so much trouble in the past. Indeed, the two sides have some very recent history between them in this tournament, including an upset victory for Los Canaleros in the 2015 third-place match. Miguel Camargo was a member of that Panama squad, starting in that victory and logging a rugged 45 minutes in the center of midfield.
A fellow Gold Cup veteran, Sean Johnson knows exactly what to expect from this Panama side, as well. He was in the squad back in 2013 when the Americans earned a narrow, 1-0 decision in the tournament final over Panama, who stymied them for large portions of the game. The lone goal was scored by Brek Shea on a counterattack, as the USA were unable to overpower Panama with possession.
This time around should be no different. Panama forced the USA into an awkward 1-1 draw in a World Cup Qualifying match back in March, and they know what it takes to put up a fight against a more creative and athletic USMNT.
If Bruce Arena decides to match experience for experience, he could very well end up giving Johnson his first minutes in net since that 2013 Gold Cup, where he earned a 1-0 shutout over a tough Costa Rica side to close out the group stage. With a similarly young, inexperienced side around him this time, Johnson provides a steady veteran presence. His leadership and composure may just make the difference for a USA side full of players who will be making their competitive international debuts.