Eight teams are left standing in the Gold Cup. With two good matches and teams such as Mexico and Jamaica playing good football, the bracket is set up to be a good battle on one side and a battle to try and stop the freight train that is Mexico on the other. I’ll preview the latter in this post.
Mexico versus Guatemala
Keeping Mexico in check was too tall a task for any team in group A. Mexico ravaged the group scoring an impressive 14 goals and allowing just one. Being a prolific scoring team and a stingy defense is a fantastic formula and Mexico has managed to pull it off.
They’ll face a Guatemala team that’s known for breaking up play and coming up with timely goals. Against a Mexican squad that will certainly be looking to dominant the ball and continue to play with their foot on the gas, look for the Guatemalans to employ some stalling tactics while trying to break the pace of the game.
While Chicharito and Giovanni Dos Santos have gotten the headlines Guardado has played a big role in organizing and initiating the team’s attack. Guradado drives the Mexican attack and if he’s given space to operate and distribute Guatemala won’t have much of a chance.
Prediction: Mexico advances easily 3-0.
Costa Rica versus Honduras
Costa Rica went through what could be a confidence killing loss against Mexico in the final group match. The match was billed as the marquee match of the group stage but ended before the half after Mexico poured on four goals. Now the Costa Ricans face a Honduras team that has the talent to be explosive and has the experience to go with it. If Costa Rica is going to be successful their stars – namely Bryan Ruiz – are going to have to step up.
Honduras entered the tournament as the favorite in group B but fell to Jamaica in the final group match 1-0 to finish second. For all their experience and talent the Catratchos have not gotten on track offensively and are not running at top gear. Like Costa Rica, Honduras needs their star players to step up in the knockout stages. A healthy Carlo Costly will help as well.
Impact Player: Jerry Bengston, Honduras
Bengston is a young energetic forward who has shown very well in the Gold Cup. The Motuaga man could be playing his way into a contract in a bigger league and a big game against the well respected Ticos will go a long way to raising his profile. The dangerous striker will be a thorn in the side of Costa Rica if they focus too much on Costly.
Prediction: This is one of the two best matches of the quarterfinals – along with USA v. Jamaica. It’s also the toughest to predict because I don’t believe we’ve seen the best from either team. If they play at top level it could be a great game. I’ll go 2-1 Honduras because I think their stars will come through.