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CONCACAF Gold Cup: The View So Far


The Quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup are set and here are the story lines.

  • Panama has lost in close matches each of the last two Gold Cups to the United States. In 2005 it was in the PK shootout in the final, and in 2007 it was 2-1 on a controversial PK call against the Panamanians. Englishman Gary Stempel was on the chopping block as the national team manager until tonight’s huge 4-0 win over Nicaragua. Could Stempel go from sack race leader in CONCACAF to national hero with a win over the USA? It’s unlikely, but Panama has the right combination of athleticism and technical skill to give the US some trouble in this round. However, if the US fields a team similar to the side we saw against Haiti, Panama will have to be considered the favorite. I do not believe however we will see Jay Heaps or Michael Parkhurst again in a non friendly for the US.
  • The United States dropped points in a Gold Cup group match for only the second time in history against Haiti on Saturday. But as I have argued here on MLS Talk, given the lineup both teams fielded the result was actually a good one for the US. In fact, it is the Haitians who should feel as if they dropped points and lost an opportunity for a famous victory that could have brought immense joy to an impoverished and football made nation. But Haiti’s play should have brought joy to the faces of neutrals everywhere. I was the color commentator for tonight’s USL Live broadcast of Miami FC-Vancouver, and it was with great pride we discussed the success of the Haitian National Team in this tournament during the webcast, as well as the local (South Florida) connections of the Haitian team.
  • I am not sure the injury situation regarding Clarence Goodson, but the US needs him back badly in this tournament. A Goodson/Conrad pairing inside should be good enough for the US to win this tournament, but if Bob Bradley is forced to rely on any other combination of central defenders in this tournament, Canada and Mexico both have a chance to upset the USA.
  • I am hopeful that Haiti can give the unsporting and classless Mexican players and fans (Guille Ochoa is an exception: he has shown a class and dignity which will serve Mexico well if he continues to be a poster boy for the FMF) a real run for their money Sunday, in Dallas. Haiti, as I have said before has the talent to play with CONCACAF’s best. But the officials in the Gold Cup have for years given Mexico the benefit of the doubt on close calls and have permitted if not encouraged El Tri’s chippy and unsporting play on the pitch by not properly managing matches. So Haiti may in fact face longer odds than simply competing tactically.
  • Honduras “B” team has been wholly unimpressive in this tournament, and I fully expect Canada, who has played the best football this past week to defeat them. Julian DeGuzman is for the second straight Gold Cup the class of the tournament.
  • I’ll have Canada National Team manager Stephan Hart’s very poignant commentary about artificial turf on the next MLS Talk Podcast.
  • Guadeloupe versus Costa Rica could go either way. The Caribbean islanders have a core of players that compete in Europe which normally would be a great advantage except in July, in the heart of the closed season. Thus fitness levels have to be considered and maybe that gives a slight edge to Costa Rica.
  • Jamaica’s failure to advance to the next round of the Gold Cup is good news for several MLS teams and the USL’s Puerto Rico Islanders (the Islanders still have two missing Haitian players, however due to Haiti’s advancement in the tournament). But the failure of the Reggae Boyz is not going over well back at home. Jamaica had been undefeated in their last nine competitive matches before this tournament and appeared to be the class of the Caribbean. But with Guadeloupe and Haiti both advancing questions are being asked at home of Theodore Whitmore, a playing hero but young manager about what happened. Stay tuned.
  • Alfredo Pacheco of the El Salvador National Team and Red Bulls told me outside the team bus on Friday night (where CONCACAF had setup the mix zone) that his focus is on qualifying for the World Cup and that not advancing in the Gold Cup did not bother him. “South Africa has been our entire focus as team and for me as a player,” Pacheco said. Unfortunetly, for CONCACAF this is what happens if you force a tournament to be played right in the middle of qualifying. I personally cannot argue with Pacheco’s sentiments.
  • Grenada and Nicaragua both competed gamely in their first ever Gold Cups but both failed to score a goal. Would Trinidad or Guatemala have done as poorly? Unlikely, but if you lose in qualifying you don’t have much to gripe about.
  • Another note: The much ballyhooed World Football Challenge is scheduled to begin this week. I for one will not be covering it in any fashion (other than perhaps critical). We have a Continental Championship, the Gold Cup ongoing and the decision of this phony event to use match promoters who are not linked with MLS should leave us all concerned. The three participating European clubs will cannibalize the audience for the Gold Cup and MLS matches, and because SUM is not involved MLS will not get a piece of the action. Moreover, ESPN showing the matches ensures it’ll be well covered. All of this adds up to an event whose failure would be a good thing for all of us.  MLS and the USMNT do not need to be competing with Chelsea on its own shores during our season and our continental championship. Other than the Gooch angle with Milan and seeing if Club America is as bad this year as last this “tournament” should hold no interest for the true American soccer fan. I’m not bashing European football in saying this but we have real competitive league and international matches going on at the same time as what is a glorified set of friendlies designed to extort money out of fans who should be spending that cash supporting MLS, USL or the USSF instead. (change of plans- we will now be covering this event from the fan perspective and asking the critical question: what would posses Americans who should be supporting their national team and club game to spend exorbedent amounts of money watching teams with no Americans (except AC Milan) play in meaningless games on American Soil.)
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  1. Footyfan

    July 17, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Kartik: All of em. Once all the other leagues were eliminated in the CCL, I was neutral towards the Mexican teams who were left.

    Who is your club in India? I don’t know much about its football, except that I believe the name of the league used to be the National Football League. I think that’s awesome, they should go back to that name. That’s the REAL NFL, not American handegg.

  2. soccer goals

    July 17, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Great Article. Thanks

  3. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Fair enough footy fan. BTW, who is your club in Mexico?

  4. Footyfan

    July 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Hey Apu (Kartik), if you’re going to group me in with the arrogant Mexican fans, then I will group you with your fellow Northern Indians. You are Indian, just like them.

    I and the people I know are not arrogant or ignorant towards the rest of the Concacaf. Those fans and players you speak of are not indicative of all Mexicans, just like your Northern Indian brethren don’t represent all Indians. But if you’re gonna generalize, then so will I. Do you see how that works?

    So grow up a little and call things the right way. I know it bothers you when you hear dot-head or Quick-E-Mart jokes. You can’t expect people to not stereotype you when you, in turn, stereotype other people.

  5. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 16, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Wales also and Scotland are not independent in any way- in fact until recently they did not even have their own parliaments! FIFA should address this.

    As far as adding fans in CONCACAF, Honduras would be logical team to back with El Salvador out of the tournament. Haiti would be a good story also, but their fans tend to be in and around Miami.

  6. Oscar

    July 16, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I understand all of that and I don’t plan to get into the politics aspect of it despite how unconstitutional it is to be a US citizen without the given US citizen right to vote…just saying.
    Aside from that, if it is a department (state) of France then I’d see why they would be ineligible. But I would take a step further and suggest that this could be a hot topic at one of the next FIFA board meetings. The expansion would generate more revenue especially when a team has merits. In this case Guadalupe could break that groud.
    FIFA does not require the territory to be free or independent as a country, again PR is the perfect example. Guadalupe is a state, yes, but its not the same as to say New York is a State and therefor the Red Bulls should compete

  7. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 16, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Adam Edg explains the difference well. If Guadeloupe wins the Gold Cup in 2011, I’m told the runner up qualifies for the Confed Cup.

  8. Adam Edg

    July 16, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Oscar, I agree with you in theory. Your enthusiasm for a dark horse in CONCACAF is in the right place. As much as I support the USMNT, we do need to see some one step up and give the Big 2 (maybe even Big 4 if you count Panama & Honduras) a challenge.
    However, Guadeloupe is not a member if FIFA and are ineligible to qualify for the World Cup. They are a member of CONCACAF and the CFU, which is why they are eligible to compete in the Gold Cup and Carribean Championships. Since the Confederations Cup is a FIFA event, I am not sure what would happen if Guadeloupe were to win the Gold Cup in a qualifying year (2011); I would imagine that the runner-up (provided they are a FIFA member) would go instead.
    The difference between Puerto Rico and Guadelope is that PR is a US Commonwealth Nation whereas Guad is an overseas department of France. This means that they are basically part of France. They are French Citizens with French passports, subject to French taxes and are compeltely governed by the French government. Their players are also eligible for the French National Team after representing Guad.
    PR is a self-governing territory. Yes they are US citizens and yes they do send Reps to Congress, but they have no voting power. Also, PR residents cannot vote in federal elections from the Island. But they can come and go freely in the US, as can all US citizens in PR. PR players are USMNT eligible only if they do not participate in an official match for PR.
    Other than that, I am not sure of the criteria to be a FIFA member…

  9. Oscar

    July 16, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Honduras vs. El Salvador was the final I was hoping for. Needless to say, it changed as soon as they failed to win their next 2 games!

  10. adam

    July 16, 2009 at 11:57 am

    El Salvador would have brought more fans than Honduras or Costa Rica. If finding new fans was the criteria they would have been my choice.

  11. Oscar

    July 16, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Also, it may be in Concacaf’s best interest to have another country win the tournament as there are many fans, not just for the big 2, that can sell out future competitions knowing that their team might win the cup again (next time when it means something).
    Say Mexico or US win this year; this tournament becomes predictably stale and gives other fans NO REASON to believe their team can win in 2011.
    Also what about this: if Concacaf invests in Guadalupe reaching the finals or even win the tournament. It would benefit Concacaf to have another COMPETITIVE team for the next World Cup Qualifier. Guadalupe could easily enter the next Hexagonal. Sure they are not independent, but last time I checked, neither is Puerto Rico and they get a change to Qualify for the WC.

  12. Oscar

    July 16, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Good article, but I have to disagree with you on Honduras. Canada is impressive and it will be a good competitive game this Saturday, but Honduras will win this Saturday. I also add my 2 cents in saying that the fact that this tournament is meaningless opens the door to other teams. Concacaf is the 2nd least competitive Confederation in the world, ousting only Oceania, with the same faces on top (mainly US and Mexico). This is the perfect opportunity for another country to win the tournament. Canada won in 2000. That was 9 years ago. All tournaments have seen either Mexico or US win. I say this year the finals should be Costa Rica-Honduras @ Giant Stadium, an easy sell out.

  13. Jimbo

    July 15, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    The Sanchez´s behavior was because Eddie Johnson made fun of him…so stop citing that as an example of classless…you wanna see classless? what about L. Donovan taking a piss in the very same field in Estadio Jalisco a few years back? or one of your bench players making fun of Guille Franco in a recent qualifier when the game was over? that is really classless…

  14. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 14, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Footy Fan, I was born and raised in the US so don’t associate the classless Indians and Cricket with me. I do think it humorous that a lot of Indians own Motels and convenience stores too- they are North Indians…….my family is from the south which produces doctors and engineers. But you obviously wouldn’t know that.

    As far as the Mexican team and players talk to any Central American footy fan- ANY. Any Guatemalan, any Panamanian, any Costa Rican any Honduran and find out what they think of your fans and the antics, unsporting and downright classless you show. Any time Mexico falls behind in a game (or an FMF club in the Copa Lib.) you see guys go quickly to ground and whine to the refs.

    How about the South Americans? What do the Brazilians and Argentines, I speak to think of your football? Their commentary is harsher than mine.

    I’ve found when visiting your country, your football fans live in a bubble about world football. That’s why you are so shocked when Honduras, sporting legitimate stars from European clubs smashes you in two qualifiers in a row. If the guy doesn’t play in the FMF you’ve never heard of him. I had Mexican fans ask me who this Suazo and Palacios guys were. Can you imagine, not knowing perhaps the two best players in CONCACAF?

    Look at the English Premier League. Borgetti failed there. Dos Santos is failing there. Vela, he’ll fail there eventually. Then look your opposition. Wanchope is a legend there. Palacios and Figueroa are playing well there and now Hendry Thomas has signed there.

    CONCACAF has caught up with your team and your players. The only way you know how to react to this is to take shots at people, cultures and impugn anyone who is beating you. I really feel sorry for you and your fans. The FMF is a cirrupr organization that has sold out Mexican Football to make money and your players know it which may be why they behave the way they do on the pitch. O. Sanchez’s attempt to break Eddie Johnson’s leg was a clear example of how Mexican players behave when things do not go their way.

    Classless, unsporting and seemingly desperate.

    • MexiGOL

      December 16, 2009 at 5:02 pm

      I’m sure there are plenty of unsportsman like examples going both ways. Donavan did take a piss on the pitch at the stadium in Guadalajara.

      As far as Mexican players in Europe goes, well I maybe you haven’t heard of Hugo Sanchez, Luis Hernandez, or Rafael Marquez. All of whom have done well in La Liga. No, Borgetti did not do well in the EPL but neither did Donovan in the Bundesliga. Among many Mexican players in Europe there are 3 rising stars in Andres Guardado (Deportivo La Coruna), Carlos Vela (Arsenal), and Giovani Dos Santos (Tottenham Hot Spurs). Oh ya and Vela just signed a new contract that would keep him in Arsenal till 2015 and Wenger see him as a great finisher and he has a lot of potential in the club.

      I know Donovan is looking to get loaned out in Europe and he probably will but most Americans playing in Europe don’t see much playing time. Most Mexican may not know all the CONCACAF players in Europe but I can definately tell you that Mexicans generally speaking would never call the sport of soccer “gay” as many do here in the US. Therefore, Mexicans are more knowledgeable about the sport overall, even internationally, versus Americans.

      And as far as being a Mexican fan, yes I’m very proud to be a Mexican fan. We are like the Raiders of CONCACAF. We’re everywhere, we’re loyal to the death, and we’re MEAN motherf*ckers. Hell, we even get into fights with each other at the games because there’s not enough opposing fans. I’ve been to many Mexico games in the US and Raiders games. There’s a lot of similarities in the fans and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sit in the stands wearing the opposing teams jersey at a Mexico game in the Oakland Coliseum and we’ll make sure you get a proper welcome to my home town.

  15. Footyfan

    July 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Classless fans and players? The Mexican team features true football professionals and fair sportsmen. Mexican fans are knowledgeable and have a rich tradition of supporting the sport of football. usa fans don’t even come close to possessing the football knowledge and tradition that Mexicans do.

    You wanna see classless? Check out all those unemployed in India who defecate out in the open streets since they can’t afford adequate bathrooms for their homes. Or people who force their kids to enter arranged marriages. What a backwards culture. Quit writing about football and go back to Cricket, in between your shifts at the Quik-E-Mart.

  16. erp

    July 14, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    As a soccer fan, I find it appalling that you wish failure upon any soccer sporting event that we’re lucky enough to see on ESPN. So long

  17. Seybold

    July 14, 2009 at 12:19 am

    I agree with kilmier re: Honduras; reminds me of Argentina in 2002.

    One other thing: it’s ridiculous that there’s a week between the first round and the quarterfinals. It kills the momentum of the tournament, and makes the decision to have finals three days after the semis borderline inexcusable.

  18. Stephen

    July 13, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Not sure if this is a typo or just a stylistic annoyance… but it’s the *Canadian* National Team, or “Canada’s National Team Manager”. Canada National Team just doesn’t work right (Canada can’t be used on its own as a possessive like most countries.)

  19. Jason

    July 13, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Am I missing something in your comments about a Goodson/Conrad central pairing is the only way forward in this tournament? Is Chad Marshall injured or not with the team anymore? Or are you just not rating him? I personally think he had two very dominate games.

  20. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    July 13, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Steph, you are right. Correcting it now. Thanks! 🙂

  21. Steph

    July 13, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Typo on your web site .. .. Haiti give Mexico real run for their money Friday, in Dallas. …. We have the game playing on Sunday July 19th at Dallas, Not Friday … Could you please clarified? .. Thanks

  22. Adam Edg

    July 13, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Perhaps after this year’s weak Gold Cup CONCACAF will get a clue and make it a four year event, the way it should be. Does any other fedration currently have a two year cup? With WC qualifiers going, national teams still in the miux would be stupid to throw their top guys – or even second and third stringers – onto the pitch for this relatively meaningless comeptition.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a great chance to check out the depth of the US, Mexico, and the other major teams in our region. Still, I think friendlies can accomplish the same thing without messing up the MLS schedules so much. I think qualifiers are much more important right now and our energy should be focused on winning those games.
    Having the Gold Cup every other year cheapens it. This year the winner gets the trophy. That’s it. No Confederations Cup berth, no World Cup berth, just a stinking trophy. Who cares? At least the 2007 Cup provided a chance to play in a major tourney and scout the WC venues. Maybe I will have come up with some ways to improve the event…

  23. kilmier

    July 13, 2009 at 8:20 am

    I’d forgive Honduras on this occasion for not producing at their best. I can’t imagine that they can focus very much on soccer when their situation back home is so unstable and uncertain.

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