2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Quarterfinal Round
Lincoln Financial Field - Philadelphia
Wednesday, July 19 - 9 p.m. ET
WATCH: FS1, UniMás, UDN (USA) | TSN2, RDS2 (CAN)
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The United States are where they've come to expect to be: in the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. For the now-perennial World Cup entrants, this is where the continental tournament really starts.
But as results showed two years ago, a rising tide across the confederation has lifted a lot of boats. The Yanks – then under Jurgen Klinsmann – followed up 2013's tournament title with an ugly, listless fourth-place finish.
With a fight for Russia 2018 still looming, the U.S. need all the momentum they can get – and a win over El Salvador on Wednesday night in the quarterfinal round would be a good start for the reloaded Group B champions. Coach Bruce Arena has brought in a group of MLS-based veterans to take on the Central American side – and while the US have to be considered the prohibitive favorites, El Salvador – with little to lose – will be looking to pull off a shocker against the likes of Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard.
The U.S.' Cup hopes aside, this tournament is especially compelling for one reason:
Clint Dempsey is one international goal away from tying Landon Donovan's team record of 57, and there's no reason he can't get it in this tournament. For one thing, he's long displayed a knack for turning up in tournaments. For another, the Gold Cup suits Deuce's style of play.
Defenders aren't shy about banging around in an opponent's attacking third, but Dempsey has never hesitated to bang right back. If the big Texan can avoid a knock and get good service – or a fortunate loose ball in the area – he could have a spot in the history books by night's end.
With four quarterfinal appearances, most recently in 2013, La Selecta – captained by San Jose's Darwin Ceren – don't exactly fall into "just happy to be here" territory. But while El Salvador did finish second in the first CONCACAF Championship in 1963, the quarterfinal round has proven to be their ceiling in Gold Cup play.
Their last previous appearance in the quarters was also their last previous Gold Cup appearance against the United States -- and that ended badly for the Central American side, the Yanks cruising to a 5-1 rout behind goals from Clarence Goodson, Joe Corona, Eddie Johnson, Donovan and Mix Diskerud.