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Gold Cup Forecaster: Group, title projections

Gold Cup
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Debating U.S. Gold Cup bubble players

United States
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Gold Cup Forecaster: Which teams are most likely to advance, win title?

Are Michael Bradley and the U.S. or Hector Herrera and Mexico the Gold Cup favorites?
Are Michael Bradley and the U.S. or Hector Herrera and Mexico the Gold Cup favorites?

The 2015 Gold Cup begins on Tuesday, with the CONCACAF title on the line for 12 countries, plus a trip to the 2017 Confederations Cup at stake.

If the United States wins their second straight Gold Cup, the U.S. would qualify directly for the Confed Cup in Russia. But if a different country wins, then a playoff will be held later this year to determine CONCACAF's representative.

The 12-team tournament features three groups of four teams. After round-robin group play, the top two teams advance to the quarterfinals, as do the two best third-place teams.

Because of the forgiving format, the top three CONCACAF teams aren't likely to have difficulty reaching the knockout stage. The United States, Costa Rica and Mexico were seeded atop the groups, and each is heavily favored to win their group. However, the title race projects to be much closer. 

Here's our Soccer Power Index-simulated forecast of every team's group and title finish odds, including team-by-team analysis. (SPI's team rankings and the ratings on which they are based stem from a regression-based algorithm designed to predict soccer matches.)

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Michael Bradley named U.S. captain over Clint Dempsey for Gold Cup

The ESPN FC experts give their insight on Michael Bradley's appointment as USMNT captain for the Gold Cup as Clint Dempsey faces suspension.
The ESPN FC's panel discuss Clint Dempsey's suspension and Michael Bradley's appointment as USMNT captain for the Gold Cup.

CHICAGO -- Michael Bradley will be the U.S. captain for the CONCACAF Gold Cup rather than Clint Dempsey.

Dempsey took over as the American captain from Carlos Bocanegra two years ago. He was suspended for three games by Major League Soccer for a confrontation with a referee on June 16 in Seattle's fourth-round loss to Portland in the U.S. Open Cup, when he grabbed a notebook from the official and tore it after a teammate was given a red card. He also was suspended for six U.S. Open Cup matches.

"It's...

U.S. midfielder Brad Davis ruled out of Gold Cup with knee injury

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno is not surprised with Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man Gold Cup roster, where no real "scandalous" exclusions occurred.

CHICAGO -- U.S. midfielder Brad Davis will miss the Gold Cup with a knee injury.

The Houston Dynamo player was removed from the squad on Tuesday and replaced by defender Greg Garza of Mexcian side Atlas. Garza still must be cleared for the Gold Cup but has been added to the squad for Friday's friendly against Guatemala.

A right knee bone bruise has bothered Davis, Dynamo's captain, for several weeks. Davis had not played for the national team since last year's World Cup.

 By Marc Stein

Aron Johannsson wants to play in MLS 'at the peak of my career'

U.S. national team forward Aron Johannsson, left, helped AZ Alkmaar qualify for the Europa League.

U.S. national team striker Aron Johannsson said he has down-the-road ambitions to play in Major League Soccer "at the peak of my career."

The 24-year-old AZ Alkmaar forward, who has three goals in 10 national team appearances heading into July's Gold Cup, expounded on his long-range plans in an interview Sunday with radio program "ESPN Soccer Today."

"Most definitely," Johannsson, who has spent his career in Europe, said when asked if he sees himself making an eventual move to Major League Soccer....