Thursday, June 14, 2007

Gold Cup Enters Quarterfinals

Mexico's hard fought 1-o victory over Panama last night in Houston ensured that the US would avoid playing Mexico until a potential Gold Cup final on June 24th in Chicago. Had a draw taken place last night the US would have played Mexico on Saturday in Foxboro, MA in the quarterfinals. Instead now the US will face Panama.

While avoiding Mexico this early in the tournament sounds good in concept, EL Tri looks sluggish and already suffers from a massive confidence issue when playing the US on American soil. Moreover playing the Mexicans in front of what would sure to be a partisan American crowd in Foxboro rather than a tilted pro Mexican crowd in Chicago would have been nice also.
Right now Mexico's attack seems to lack the clinical finishing we've seen in the past and as Football crazed Central American nations develop more organization within their federations and domestic leagues the gap in CONCACAF is shrinking. Fox Soccer Channel's Christopher Sullivan has remarked during the telecasts of both MLS and Gold Cup matches that nations such as Honduras, Panama and Guatemala have the technical skill but just need the organization and the understanding of the game to challenge Mexico and the US atop CONCACAF. Judging by the first week of the Gold Cup, Sullivan is looking like a prophet.

The Quarterfinal Matchups in the Gold Cup are as follows:
Saturday in Foxboro:
Canada versus Guatemala
USA versus Panama
Sunday in Houston:
Mexico-Costa Rica

The US matchup against Panama is tricky, but little doubt can exist that at this point the US is the best team in the tournament. The free flowing attacking play of the triangle up top (which Major League Soccer Talk Correspondent Michael Haley explains in this week's podcast) in the US attack, featuring Clint Dempsey, DeMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan has created far more scoring opportunities for the Americans than any other team in the competition. While the finishing has been suspect, the US is creating so many chances in each game it's almost impossible to see them not winning the event. But danger does remain in the tournament.
Canada, a potential semifinal opponents has shook off the poor performance in a loss to Guadeloupe and regained some confidence. Canada has a number of skilled attacking players that could create fits for the US. However, Canada's defense is shaky and Goalkeeping situation is up in the air with an injury to Greg Sutton and some nagging worries about Pat Onstad.

Honduras and Guadelope meet in the Quarterfinals, Sunday and both teams have played excellent football thus far. Guadeloupe was unfortunate not to beat Haiti and win Group A, while Honduras shook off a disappointing loss to Panama when reduced to ten men to beat Mexico and crush Cuba. Amado Guevarra is Honduras' #10 and despite being currently unsettled in MLS (and requesting a transfer back home), the former league MVP has been nothing short of spectacular in the tournament. Guadeloupe for their part have become the smallest administrative body to advance to a knock out stage of a major Continental Championship. While Guadeloupe is likely to get beat by Honduras, they are certainly a footballing nation worth keeping an eye on the next few years.


Zizou06 said...

Even though Mexico made it, I wouldn't be surprised if they lose right off the bat. I see Costa Rica winning that one.

Anonymous said...

You have no education in football if you are comparing Honduras and Panama to Los Tri. Mexico' owns this confederation lock and stock. I personally cannot wait for all the whiny gringos to sing their stupid songs on June 24th joined by the Central Americans wearing Guatemala T-shirts waving American flags pulling for a Mexican defeat. They will all be sorely dissapointed.

GG 223 said...

Anonymous, us Latinos who are not Mejicanos cannot stand your arrogrance and entitlement. The USA will crush Mexico in the final. I say 4 to nill.

Anonymous said...

This is a terrible thing to say but I personally have a lot more sympathy with this immigration controversy ongoing in our country for people coming illegally from Central America via Mexico, than those coming illegally directly from Mexico. The fact that the Central Americans root for the US team against everyone but their own nation is inidicitve of a larger trend of their appreaction of being here rather than the Mexicans who feel we owe them something for taking Texas and California. I am of the opinion that we need the latino element to keep our economy going as laborites and I would much rather they come from Guatemala or Honduras than Mexico.

Sams Army said...

Can we all just get along? It's the eurosnobs that populate the US Soccer and media hierarchy that want to keep all of us in CONCACAF down. We should be pulling for wach other when we step out of the region and using this Gold Cup as a showcase to the eurosnobs on the radio and in print that we do know Football in this part of the world.

Sams Army said...

Even though I am a white anglo mail, as a soccer fan I'd like to stop immigration from the British Isles and Germany while we take as many Latinos and Italians as possible. That'll be one way to change the soccer landscape in this nation.

Kartik said...

Oh Sams, you never change!