Why the Gold Cup Should Be Held Every Four Years

Video: Fox Soccer Gold Cup Preview

As the dark cloud hovers over the FIFA-CONCACAF bribery scandal that now looms over this month’s Gold Cup tournament that started yesterday, a dark cloud hovers over Red Bull Arena and the New York Red Bulls. Five starters will be missing for their respective teams battling for the bi-annual trophy as the region’s champion.

Those five are Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream for the USA, Rafa Marquez (Mexico), Dwayne De Rosario for Canada and Dane Richards for Jamaica. They will be away for national team duty and hopefully will have a chance to play in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil if their team wins the Gold Cup trophy.

But with six matches within the month of June, this will be a trying time for the Red Bulls as they test the depth of their roster to pull out as many points as possible. They will start at home against Columbus and New England. Then away at Portland and Seattle, returning to the midwest against Chicago, then a late US Open Cup match in round three, before going back to the west coast on 4th of July weekend at San Jose.

“It’s a challenge for us, but it’s an opportunity for the guys,” said Head Coach Hans Backe. “If you want to put new guys in, it’s not fair to put five guys in at once. To put in two guys, it’s okay just to see how they can handle the level of play.”

But for a veteran like Thierry Henry, he knows that this is a new thing for him and it sounded like he was ready for this problem to arrive. “It is important to have young guys around with the team” said Henry. “A lot of teams are missing players, [it] doesn’t mean you have to draw, lose or concede some goals. It is about a team that makes everything go round.”

To be honest it’s the brave thing to say when you have a match calendar like MLS has and it is a pain in the butt when you are missing your top two center backs and two top midfielders along with the future of the US National Team. When this problem will stop with MLS playing matches during the Confederational tournament of CONCACAF, I have no idea. But I think it’s time to make this Gold Cup a once in every four year cycle.

Let’s not forget that this tournament was originally played during the off-season of MLS in January when the USA won in 2002 against Costa Rica at the Rose Bowl and then made that great run in South Korea/Japan in the summer. It would be the 2003 edition that would move the tournament from the winter into the summer, so more players from CONCACAF wouldn’t miss time with their club teams from Europe.

So as we watch some of our MLS sides playing without their top players for the month of June, it will be exciting to see a new or repeat champion crowned as the kings of CONCACAF and make a bigger splash in the Confederations Cup in two years. Football never gets dull.

15 thoughts on “Why the Gold Cup Should Be Held Every Four Years”

  1. I have to disagree with your premise. Yes, on the one hand, the Gold Cup staged in Confed Cup off-years is more important than it’s 2-year counterpart (and treated so by the country who represents CONCACAF in Confeds). So the winner of the 2011 Gold Cup will likely field a 2nd cut side in 2013. Isn’t that OK?

    I would imagine that the Gold Cup is a great source of revenue for CONCACAF. MLS cannot go barging in and dictating anything, they are subject to USSF and CONCACAF. The US has been the host in most years for the tournament, allowing us home turf chance to gain the Confeds Cup berth.

    If anything, you should be complaining to the powers that be in MLS that they need to look at alternative ways to accommodate international fixture dates that they know in advance of their own scheduling (note that this two week period is also the middle of the finals in the NBA/NHL, might not be a bad time to schedule a short break).

  2. The only way the Gold Cup moves to a 4 year schedule is if the caribbean teams and the north/central american teams break into two separate confederations. The Gold Cup makes a lot of money for, relatively speaking, the caribbean teams and gives them the most challenging matches, so they have no interest in seeing it go away.

    But the odds of CONCACAF breaking up are about the same as FIFA not being corrupt, so this is not a solution. Till then MLS should show the Gold Cup the same respect it showed the World Cup and give at least a 2 week pause while it is going on.

  3. This is what I would like to see happen:

    1) Move the Gold Up to July.

    2) MLS takes off the month of July for friendlys and the Gold Cup.

    3) Get rid of the Gold Cup and create a true Copa America. Have the best Caribbean team and the best Central Amercian teams represent each of those, have a playoff between the runners up of the Caribbean Conf and Central America Conf for the 16th spot, have Canada, US, and Mexico be auto bids as well as the ten COMEBOL countries. That’s 16 teams so 4 groups of 4 every 4 years.

    1. I agree with this. Combine the regions for this tournament and have qualifying by region beforehand. You could use the qualifying as preliminary World Cup qualifying as well, Africa has done this in the past.

      Either way, one card the US can play in order to get this tournament to a 4 year cycle is to not offer to host it. If we threatened not to host it, CONCACAF would cave to our conditions.

  4. Looking at it from a USMNT view, the Gold Cup should be held once every four years for sure… Losing huge to our arch rivals two years ago while fielding a “C” team was hurtful… There is no way that Spain would play two major tourney’s in one summer (Euro Championship & Confed Cup)… Why should we? MLS reasons are secondary to this argument, I reckon…

  5. When half the teams in MLS make the playoffs, the Gold Cup does not hurt anyone. The regular season is fairly meaningless. Yes, the Red Bulls will drop some points this month, but they are not on pace to win the Supporter’s Shield (which in the U.S. is also meaningless), and they are in no danger of missing the playoffs. If you are going to move things around for the Gold Cup, then you should be tougher to get into the MLS post season.

    The Gold Cup is a great opportunity for soccer in the U.S. to get exposure. And even the odd year ones, where we play C-teams, help develop players. Remember that it was the ’09 Gold Cup that gave Stuart Holden his big chance on an international stage. The way things are is fine. MLS makes no money and is not in a position to tell anyone in the region what to do. If not for the US National team playing important matches and other foreign teams coming into the US for friendlies, MLS would not have had the money to survive this long.

    1. yeah the MLS regular season is meaningless. Like when the RedBulls you are talking about didn’t make the playoffs 2 years ago.

      1. Charles, the regular season is meaningless. That’s why Garber and Co. reschedule Regular Season games around Friendlies and why its not a big deal for franchises to miss players due to international duty.

  6. i just think MLS should just take a break, although having the league take a month long break every 2 years will do some damage. its just a shame weather isnt our friend during the winter months, that way MLS should surely have been in line with the rest of the world. i think the best solution would be to move the gold cup every 4 years but then that will also do damage to the presentation of concacaf teams. concacaf is a very weak region the more teams play against each other the better and besides the qualification rounds, the gold cup is the grandest stage of all. idk i guess until something of a solution comes up i think mls should just put up with it.

  7. Thank you Daniel F. for making the day more interesting with your post! There are many ways to go about making things better among the Gold, Confed and World Cups. Whatever makes the most common sense is the best option. But, then there will be a lot of differing opinions on which is the most common sense of all the options. Its hard to please everybody.

    Whatever changes end up happening, the most important thing is keeping a balance and integrity among these sought after Cups. The countries playing for them and their respective Soccer Associations must want to send their ‘A’ teams. The best players should always be playing, right? and fans should always be tuned in accordingly. If ‘A’ teams are not playing, its hard for fans to be engaged as well.

  8. Here’s my 2 cents
    1. Make the Gold Cup occur on the year following the World Cup
    2. Create a short qualifying set up so that teams actually have to work to get in and there is no lock on the regional qualifying and have a 16 team tourney.
    3. Create The Americas Cup that follows (or runs parallel at night) the European Championship or the Confed cup where all 10 South American and 14 North American teams play in a massive cup that has heavy handed sponsors to make it worth it.

  9. Why not keep it every 2 years but play in MLS off-season in February. Play across Concacaf region to avoid snow. Could still play in indoor stadia like Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minnesota, St Louis etc…- but have some games in Mexico. Surely help atmosphere at some of the lesser games like Jamaica vs Guadeloupe would be much better in Kingston and US v Canada much better in Montreal???

    But I think best to have full mid-season break for MLS allowing break for Gold Cup/ World Cup etc… could easily compensate by starting MLS season in mid Feb, play games in westcoast and south till warms up in spring in north and eastcoast

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