The 2015 Gold Cup kicked off on Tuesday night with a pair of Group A matches in Frisco, Texas.
The early match pitted the 2013 edition's runners-up, Panama, against upstarts Haiti, resulting in a 1-1 draw.
Both sides found chances in the first half, though Panama had the better: Haitian James Marcelin whisked a good look wide of the top right-corner, while Panamanians Luis Tejada, Valentin Pimental, and Alberto Quintero all saw efforts got wanting. Tejada sent a weak bicycle attempt at the Haitian keeper, Johnny Placide, while Pimental could only find the outside netting after Blas Perez's blocked rebound fell to him on the right; Quintero's low right-footer from distance was pushed wide of the bottom left-corner of goal.
Panama would find the breakthrough in the 55th minute thanks largely to a Haitian miscue. A throw-in from the right was flicked on Perez, Reginald Goreux was in position to clear, but whiffed, allowing the ball to fall for Quintero streaking down the left, who put a right-footer across the keeper to the top right-corner of goal.
Perez himself would nearly double the advantage for Los Canaleros, only for his effort to be tipped over the bar.
And Haiti would respond in the 85th minute, scoring a late equalizer to ensure each side exited the opening match with a single point. A ball over the top from Wilde Donald Guerrier allowed Duckens Nazon to streak down the right.
Nazon cuts in-field on defender Harold Cummings, then moved back outside, twisting up Cummings to make space for a low right-footer that found its way through the legs of Jaime Penedo in the Panama net, stealing a point for Les Grenadiers in the process.
The Panamanian coach was entertainingly not pleased at conceding.
The evening's late match saw defending champions, the USA, host Honduras in a cracking match.
Honduras were set up to defend and hit on the counter, something they nearly did regularly, with former MLSer Andy Najar in particular looking dangerous. The best chance for Los Catrachos through the early goings fell to Anthony Lozano, leading the line, but his effort was saved by Brad Guzan, who got down low to get a strong arm on his drive.
The US would take the lead in the 25th minute through Clint Dempsey, capitalizing on a poor defensive clearance after a set-piece. DeAndre Yedlin touched a short corner to Michael Bradley, who hurled a cross towards the near-post, where it was flicked by Toronto teammate, Jozy Altidore.
His ball on to the back-side was not dealt with by a pair of Hondurans, falling back to Altidore on the right-side of the area. He sent a low left-footer on target, which was saved, but the rebound popped to Dempsey on the edge of the six, where he headed into the unguarded net to give the opener to the home side.
Dempsey would add a second in the 64th minute, staking an early claim to the golden boot, from a Bradley free-kick on the left sent towards the back-post. The tempestuous Sounder got on the end with a downward header, which bounced up and nestled inside the woodwork.
Honduras would make a game of it four minutes later, giving The Stars and Stripes a scare, when Wilmer Crisanto slid a ball through a maze of defenders to pick out the run of Carlos Discua, who nipped past a block-tackle from Ventura Alvarado to work in on goal, whipping a left-footer high to the short-side on Guzan to pull one back.
Eager to equalize, Honduras would attack in waves, regularly springing the US' frail offside trap, but time would run out before they could score another. It was a great closing twenty minutes though.
With the close of the first matchday in Group A, the US tops the table with three points and a plus-one, while Panama and Haiti sit tied on one and zero; Honduras brings up the rear at zero and minus-one.
They will resume on July 10 in Foxborough, Massachusetts with Honduras playing Panama – that should be tasty – and the US meeting Haiti.
But first, the action swaps to Group B on Wednesday in Carson, California with Costa Rica facing Jamaica and El Salvador meeting Canada, as four more teams make their introductions to the 2015 Gold Cup.