Minnows Guyana have been handed a monumental game against powerhouses and title-holders United States in their debut match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup while Jamaica will host El Salvador in the first-ever such fixture on Caribbean soil, in the fixtures for the continental showpiece announced here Wednesday.
Bermuda, another Caribbean Football Union side making their first appearance at the Gold Cup, take on French neighbours Haiti in their historic opener, as they bid to make their mark at the June 15 to July 7 tournament.
This year’s Gold Cup will be played under an expanded format featuring 16 teams for the first time, and will also see matches played in the Caribbean and Central America, also marking the first time games will be staged outside of North America.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani described the new developments as a “watershed moment” in the confederation’s history.
“The love for football is demonstrated with every passing edition of the Concacaf Gold Cup. Bringing the 16-team Gold Cup to Costa Rica, Jamaica and the United States is a watershed moment for football in our Confederation,” Montagliani said.
“This 15th edition will make the tournament more competitive and compelling for players and fans, while showcasing our region’s unity, passion for football and talent on the field.”
Guyana, who finished seventh in Nations League qualifying, will contest Group D along with Trinidad and Tobago and Panama.
Known as the Golden Jaguars, Guyana take on the US at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 18 before travelling to Cleveland to clash with Panama at FirstEnergy Stadium on June 22.
Guyana close out their preliminary round campaign when they come up against CFU powerhouses T&T at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City on June 26.
T&T, meanwhile, who gained automatic qualification, clash with Panama in the opening Group D fixtures before doing battle with the USA.
Bermuda will also make history after they were installed in Group B with the likes of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. They clash with the Haitians in their opening encounter in San Jose, Costa Rica on June 16 before travelling to Texas to take on Costa Rica on June 20 at Toyota Stadium.
Their final match will be against Nicaragua four days later at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Jamaica, finalists at the last two Gold Cups in 2015 and 2017, compete in Group C with Curacao, Honduras and El Salvador.
The highest-ranked CFU side in FIFA at 54th, the Reggae Boyz host Honduras on June 17 at the National Stadium in Kingston before clashing with El Salvador four days later at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
They wrap up their preliminary round campaign on June 25 against Curacao at Banc of California Stadium here on the US west coast.
United States won the 2017 edition of the Gold Cup, beating Jamaica 2-1 in the final at Levi’s Stadium to claim their sixth title.