Gold Cup brings two international soccer matches to Saint Paul

Graphic by Evan Hughes

Graphic by Evan Hughes

Allianz Field, the new home of Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Minnesota United FC, will host two national team matches on June 18th as part of the 2019 Gold Cup.

The Gold Cup is the continental cup competition for North America, including both Central America and the Caribbean, serving a similar role to the Copa America in South America and the Euro for Europe.

Allianz Field in Saint Paul, MN, Photo Courtesy of Minnesota United

Allianz Field in Saint Paul, MN, Photo Courtesy of Minnesota United

Founded in 1991, the Gold Cup replaced the CONCACAF Championship, which was run from 1963 to 1989, as the continental competition of North America. Since it’s reformation, only the US, Mexico, and Canada have won the Gold Cup.

The 16 participating countries are split into four groups, with each group playing a total of six matches and each nation participating in three. Saint Paul will be one of three cities hosting Group D, the other two being Cleveland and Kansas City.

The arrival of Group D in Saint Paul drew attention prior to the complete draw as the United States were announced as the first member of Group D several months prior. The United States, along with of course being the host country for the tournament, are the reigning champions of the Gold Cup, having won the 2017 edition of the tournament.

Group D will, in addition to the United States, include Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, and Guyana. Trinidad & Tobago quite infamously prevented the US from participating in the 2018 World Cup by beating them 2-1 in a qualifier match. Meanwhile, Panama participated in the 2018 World Cup, where they played England, Belgium, and Tunisia.

Jason Weintraub, a soccer journalist who primarily works on HomeSweetSoccer and Protagonist Soccer, had this to say on the Trinidad & Tobago squad, who many see being the dark horses of the group.

“The big question mark is finishing [chances] for them as they haven't had a consistent national team striker since Kenwyne Jones retired. Willis Plaza has been in great form for his club team but is [getting] old,” Weintraub said. “[Minnesota United’s] Molino's injury and recovery is still the biggest difference maker as he's the heart of the team… Levi Garcia (Playing in the Israeli league) is the team's young hope who has shown sparks of greatness… Sheldon Bateau, who has been a consistent CB, hasn't been playing for his club and that's a concern.”

A recent iteration of the US Men’s National Team, Photo Courtesy of USMNT

A recent iteration of the US Men’s National Team, Photo Courtesy of USMNT

The two matches held in Saint Paul will be Panama versus Trinidad and Tobago. The United States will face Guyana following that match. The playing time of both matches is yet to be determined.

The first place national team in the group after all six matches are played will move on to play the second place national team from Group C while the second place nation from the group will play the first place nation from Group C. Both matches will be held in Philadelphia.

Group C includes Honduras, Jamaica, El Salvador and Curaçao.

Tickets to both games sold out in December when they were made available for purchase. Minnesota United CEO Chris Wright told that the news was a strong showing of Minnesota’s soccer culture. “This announcement of the fastest sellout in Gold Cup history is a testament to the fans of Minnesota and their support for the world’s game — at every level.”

Allianz Field is currently serving its first season as the home stadium for Minnesota United FC, who previously played at TCF Stadium.

Dominic Bisogno