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Gold Cup

A Handy Guide to the 2011 Gold Cup

Panama & Cuba enter!

Photo by mrmoneda

The 2011 Gold Cup is an interesting tournament, one almost designed specifically for the most hard core soccer fan.  The winner advances to the Confederations Cup, which is a very scaled down version of the World Cup, and you have to really be into soccer to buy tickets for Panama versus Guadeloupe (Tuesday in Detroit).  But there are some incredible plot lines for this tournament, and if you don’t think the pressure is on Bob Bradley’s team to hoist the trophy in LA at the end of the month, you aren’t paying attention to soccer at all.

However, the U.S.’s success is not the only thing riding on this tournament.  Mexico is the other CONCACAF side that believes it can rise to the elite of international soccer, while Canada, Honduras, and Costa Rica are engaging building projects aimed at breaking up the CONCACAF duopoly that currently exists.  Below is your guide to the teams in the Gold Cup as well as the games not to miss.  Teams are listed in four categories: favorites, dark horse contenders (those teams that could surprise and win the Gold Cup), dangerous teams (those that can grab an unexpected game or two), and happy to be here.  Agree or disagree?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Check out the entire schedule here and TV schedule here.

Guide to the Gold Cup Teams


The United States [C]:  The team we all know so well has a few injury concerns.  Landon Donovan should be over his illness by Tuesday, but anytime #10 is out the U.S. should be worried.  Keep in mind, two years ago the U.S. brought a third string team to this tournament and made the finals, so anything less than the finals will be a disappointing tournament.

Mexico (A): El Tri has not lost this year internationally, and the emergence this year of “Chicharito” for Manchester United should have U.S. fans concerned about facing this team.  Two possible weaknesses for Mexico to note: this is head coach José Manuel de la Torre’s first Gold Cup as manager, and Monterrey keeper/Mexico starter Jonathan Orozco has been a starter only twice, both times in friendlies.

Dark horse contenders

Canada [C]:  American fans may be quick to dismiss our northern neighbors, but that would be a dangerous decision.  The names known to MLS fans are Julian de Guzman, Will Johnson and Dwayne de Rosario, but the team has veteran European club players like MF Atiba Hutchinson (Eindhoven), D Kevin McKenna (Germany’s Koln), and F Simeon Jackson (England’s Norwich City).

Costa Rica (A):  Remember, Costa Rica was a winner-take-all game away from qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.  Alvaro Saborio is the “name” player for U.S. fans but their most important player is Bryan Ruiz, who was a major contributor for FC Twente this season (and scored both goals in the 2-2 draw with the U.S. in the most recent World Cup qualifying).

Jamaica (B):  Don’t laugh, but the Reggae Boyz are a legitimately good team.  Eight players come from MLS, the most important being Dane Richards, but this team will badly miss an injured Omar Cummings.  Besides Tim Howard, they may have the best keeper in CONCACAF in Donovan Ricketts.

Dangerous Teams

Guadeloupe [C]:  The only CONCACAF country to win a World Cup, Guadeloupe is a territory of France, so CONCACAF tournaments are the only prize the island itself can play for (FIFA considers them part of France).  Stephane Auvray will lead this team of Ligue 1 and smaller European club veterans.  Guadeloupe made a run to the 2007 Gold Cup semifinals, so they know how to win important matches in this tournament.

Guatemala (B): This team’s chances begin and end with the Fire’s Marco Poppa and the Union’s Carlos Ruiz.  They barely qualified for this tournament, but with Poppa and Ruiz have the ability to grab an upset or two in the tournament.

Honduras (B): No Andy Najar leaves this team with a hole in midfield.  The star of the team is Celtic left back Emilio Izaguirre, who was named Scottish Premier League player of the year this season.  Eleven players on this roster started at least once in the 2010 World Cup, but with the team on its third manager in the past year and undergoing a youth movement, this will be a wildly unpredictable team.

Happy To Be Here

Cuba (A):  Their only recent win in a friendly was against Nicaragua, who is currently ranked below Curacao.  Their players all play in Cuba, which is a poor league.  The only intrigue in their matches is if anyone will defect afterwards.

El Salvador (A):  This is the team to cheer for if you are an ex-pat – their two most famous players are MLS players who came up in the US system in Alturo Alvarez and Steve Purdy.  The Portland defender only got his passport about a month ago, so los Cuscatlecos are vulnerable in the back.

Grenada (B):  No Shalrie Joseph, no chance.  They were outscored 10-0 in the group stage of the 2009 tournament, so they will be looking for a goal this time as a team goal.

Panama [C]:  Panama is ahead of Scotland in the FIFA rankings, so they have that going for them.  Their squad has players from clubs all over the world, including León (Blas Perez), Lech Poznan (Luis Henríquez), and River Plate (Harold Cummings).

Matches to Watch

US v. Canada (June 7, Detroit):  This is a good early test for the Yanks.  If they can shake off the Spain loss and bring their A game, they should beat the Canucks.  However, anything less and Canada can steal a point or three from this match.

Mexico v. Costa Rica (June 12, Chicago): Mexico should win group A, but this will be their stiffest test before the one-and-done rounds.

Honduras v. Jamaica (June 13, Red Bull Arena): While I think Jamaica is the favorite in this group, this match may be for the first spot in the group.  Honduras can grab a statement win and a face off in the quarterfinals against Group B #2 [Canada/the U.S./Guadeloupe] at RFK Stadium.

Gold Cup Championship (Los Angeles, June 25): If this is the United States and Mexico, expect an epic contest.  This would be their first meeting since 2009 and is certainly anticipated.

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  1. patrick

    June 7, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Well I v seen it all I think all the other teams are catching up on us and Mexico might be a shacker Jamaica has beaten Mexico and all the rest of these teams before except the us very good team missing key player in fuller Gardner and few others casts Rico can be a handful too so we will see what happens

  2. TurkzZ

    June 6, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    great article man 🙂 thanks , ganna be decided between USA and Mexico i think.

    if you get time head over to my new site 🙂

    cheers bro

  3. Lars

    June 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

    One fact left out was the fact that Canada is the only team other than Mexico and the United States to win the tournament.

    • Lars

      June 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

      Also, don’t expect Julian De Guzman to start against the US. He’s been poor for the CMNT and Toronto FC. I’d arguably say he’s the worst defensive midfielder who gets the start in MLS.

      Terry Dunfield has had strong performances everytime he’s been called and is having a better year in MLS.

  4. Charles

    June 6, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Mexico-US has become one of the best duals in the world.

    Evenly matched teams, both teams making the WCup final 16 regularly ( Mexico always does ), right next door, etc.

    Fun stuff.

  5. Bolacuadrada

    June 5, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I am expecting the US to win it all. They have in recent years been the best of the region. The favorites are the USA and Mexico. They just have to watch out for Canada, Costa Rica and Panama. The rest of the teams have no chance of winning it.

  6. Jon

    June 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Really enjoyed this write up, hope you don’t mind me putting your link on my blog! Everyone check it out, will be giving tons of USA soccer news and updates!

    • anime_anarchist

      June 5, 2011 at 11:03 pm

      I’m really excited about this Tourney! Though I’m bummed they didn’t pick Qwest Field for any of the games. I totally would’ve gone regerdless of who was playing!

      • Andy

        June 6, 2011 at 1:45 am

        They should have picked Qwest field for at least one U.S match

  7. dan

    June 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    All games should seriously be televised and its a shame this cup isn’t hyped up more! This is THE tournament outside the world cup for our confederation, I wonder how other countries are treating it…

    • abdi

      June 5, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      Well, if this tournament is not important enough for the countries in the region not televised. I can say that I live in Europe and I watch this tournament with enthusiasm, as I am writing these word I am watching Costa Rica thrashing Cuba 5-0 on Aljazeera Sport. Yes you heard right Al-jazeera Sport televises all matches live. I suggest you contact your satellite operator and have them include aljazeera sport in their sport packages, by the way aljazeera sport starts from aljazeera sport +1 to +10 and 2 HD channels.. you will watch soccer tournaments from all over the world year round, promise.

    • anime_anarchist

      June 5, 2011 at 10:58 pm

      I’m in western washington and I’m getting almost all of the matches. granted, they are on spanish stations (univision), but I guess that’s better than nothing (I only say that because I don’t speak spanish). Check your local listings. You may find something!

    • Andy

      June 6, 2011 at 1:43 am

      all the USA matches are televised in english on FSC. All the other matches are televised in Spanish. I agree that it would be better if they were all televised in English but lets face it, when it’s Mexico vs El Salvador the people that support those teams are tuning into Univision for the Spanish broadcast. The ratings for an English broadcast would be so tiny they’d probably lose money.

      • anime_anarchist

        June 6, 2011 at 3:12 am

        Too true! Though it is hard to swallow when fsc plays reruns of epl matches instead. Though again, I guess those are already payed for.

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