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U.S. to face Panama, Martinique, playoff winner in Gold Cup group stage

The United States will face Panama, Martinique and either Haiti or Nicaragua in Group B of the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer, the confederation announced on Tuesday.

In Group C, Mexico will face El Salvador, Jamaica and Curacao. Honduras, the winner of January's Copa Centroamericana are seeded in Group A and will face Costa Rica, French Guiana and Canada.

The final spot in this summer's tournament will be decided in a two-legged playoff between Haiti and Nicaragua later this month.

The schedule announcement was made at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, which will host the final on July 26. CONCACAF does not hold draws for the Gold Cup.

"With the groups now determined, we have a full look at the schedule of Gold Cup matches to be played this July," CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said. "With so many compelling matches set to take place in great stadiums from coast to coast, it's going to be an exciting summer of football for fans across the region."

The U.S., which will play in three NFL stadiums, opens the tournament against Panama on July 8 in Nashville's Nissan Stadium. The Americans will then face Martinique four days later in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, and will complete the group stage against either Haiti or Nicaragua on July 15 at Cleveland's FirstEnergy Stadium.

"The Gold Cup is an important tournament for us," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. "We don't take any of our opponents for granted. We open with a challenging game against Panama, and Martinique has the ability to surprise teams with the quality of their players. Obviously we'll wait to see who the third team will be, but regardless we know we will need to be prepared."

Mexico will open against El Salvador in San Diego on July 9, and then play Jamaica at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado, four days later. El Tri will finish off the group stage against Curacao at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, on July 16.

Group A games are set for MLS stadiums in New Jersey, Houston and Frisco, Texas.

The quarterfinals are scheduled for Philadelphia and Glendale, Arizona, on July 19-20, with the semifinals in Arlington, Texas, and Pasadena, California, on July 22-23.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

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