The 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off tonight as 11 teams try to take the crown away from the U.S.national team.
The United States is fresh from its Confederations Cup final appearance and will be fielding a B team in this tournament. It is not alone in that regard, with Mexico also leaving most of its top European players home. Costa Rica, leaders in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, is also missing some players but has a close to full-strength squad, which should make the World Cup Qualifying group leaders the favorite to edge out traditional powers Mexico and USA for the title.
For a good preview of the tournament, give Jeff Carlisle's ESPN.com Gold Cup preview a read. For a more U.S.-focused story, you can read my ESPN.com piece on the U.S. Gold Cup team. For all the info you might need on the tournament, there's no place better than the Gold Cup website.
The action kicks off tonight at Home Depot Center with Group A, the tournament's Group of Death (if you can have one in this tournament) as Canada and Jamaica get things started with one of the better match-ups of the first round.
Here is this weekend's schedule of Gold Cup matches:
Weekend Gold Cup Schedule
TONIGHT (at Home Depot Center)
Canada vs. Jamaica, 8pm (Galavision)
Costa Rica vs. El Salvador, 10pm (Telefutura)
SATURDAY (at Qwest Field)
- Honduras vs. Haiti, 7pm (Galavision)
USA vs. Grenada, 9pm (Fox Soccer Channel)
SUNDAY (at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum)
Panama vs. Guadeloupe, 5pm (Galavision)
Nicaragua vs. Mexico, 7pm (Univision)
What match or matches will you be watching this weekend? What team do you see winning the tournament? Who do you think is the U.S. team's biggest competition for the tournament?
You are welcome to share your thoughts on the tournament, and on tonight's matches, in the comments section below.