SPORTS

US plays Haiti, Panama & Honduras or French Guiana in CONCACAF Gold Cup

03/12/2015 06:55 EDT | Updated 05/12/2015 05:59 EDT
PHILADELPHIA - The Canadian men's soccer team will be front and centre when the CONCACAF Gold Cup ventures north of the border for the first time this summer.

Canada will play Costa Rica on July 14 at BMO Field in Toronto. Jamaica will face El Salvador in the opening game of the doubleheader.

Playing in Group B, Benito Floro's Canadian squad will open July 8 against El Salvador in Carson, Calif., before facing Jamaica on July 11 in Houston and finishing out round-robin play in Toronto.

Costa Rica, at No. 13, is currently the top-ranked team in the confederation covering North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Jamaica is ranked 76th by FIFA while El Salvador is 89th and Canada stands 116th.

The top two teams and the best two third-place squads from the three groups will qualify for the tournament’s quarter-finals.

The U.S. will begin defence of its Gold Cup title July 7 against Honduras or French Guiana at Frisco, Texas.

The Americans' opponent will be decided March 25 and March 29 in a two-leg playoff between the fifth-place teams in last year's Central American and Caribbean Cups. Honduras is ranked 81st in the world, while French Guiana is not a member of FIFA.

The No. 32 U.S. plays 77th-ranked Haiti three days later at Foxborough, Mass., and closes Group A on July 13 versus No. 61 Panama at Kansas City, Kansas.

If the Americans win their group, they would play the third-place team from Group B or C in a quarter-final doubleheader July 18 at Baltimore. The other quarter-finals will be the following day at East Rutherford, N.J.

The Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football Association Football said Thursday the semifinals will be in Atlanta on July 22, with the Baltimore quarter-final winners meeting and the New Jersey winners facing each other. The final will be at Philadelphia on July 26.

Sports and city officials in Philadelphia celebrated the hosting honour Thursday.

"We have a growing, emerging fan base who are passionate and this is a big award for the fans," said Nick Sakiewicz, chief executive of the Philadelphia Union, a Major League Soccer club.

Philadelphia beat New Jersey, Atlanta and Baltimore for the chance to host the final.

If the U.S. wins the title, it would qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. If another country wins, it would meet the Americans in a playoff for the Confederations Cup berth.

The semifinal losers will meet July 25 at the Union's home stadium in Chester, Pa., in the Gold Cup's first third-place match since 2003.

No. 21 Mexico opens against 110th-ranked Cuba on July 9 at Chicago, plays No. 82 Guatemala three days later at Glendale, Ariz., and finishes Group C on July 16 against No. 63 Trinidad and Tobago at Charlotte, N.C.

---

With files from The Associated Press

MORE:cpSports