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Darrell Lovell

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Currently cover the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow me on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.

Looking back at the 2011 Gold Cup

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Mexico is king of CONCACAF for another two years and there’s no second guessing this time. After beating a US “B” team in the 2009 final, El Tri demolished the best the US had to offer in an entertaining 4-2 final Saturday. With the tournament over let’s take a look at where some teams go from here and some thoughts on who impressed and who has work to do heading into World Cup qualifying.

GOLD CUP: Mexico outclass US

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Saturday night LA was draped in green as Mexico dominated the US 4-2 to claim the Gold Cup finale. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead early the US looked to have a magic touch. But Mexico, sensing weakness on the Yanks left side, unleashed their dangerous set of attackers and made the US pay scoring four unanswered on their way to the Cup and a spot in the 2013 Confederations Cup tournament.

GOLD CUP: Primer for US-Mexico finale

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In 24 hours we’ll know how the latest edition of CONCACAF’s best rivalry went down as another US-Mexico Gold Cup finale is upon us. With previews and analysis filling the internet there’s a number of issues and storylines being written about. Here I will provide some of the more interesting ones along with some keys to Saturday’s finale and my prediction.

GOLD CUP: Anticipated finale materializes as US and Mexico hold serve

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OK CONCACAF and Gold Cup coordinators you can exhale. It looked rocky at times but all your worry was for nothing. The dream final is set for Saturday and after Wednesday’s matches the US and Mexico look to be a more of an even talent level than anyone would have predicted a week ago.

GOLD CUP: Notes on the Semifinal

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With the Gold Cup semifinals taking place in Houston I got the chance to get some notes from the teams during their press and training day Tuesday. The general consensus was that the teams all respect each other and feel the competition level is the highest it’s been in the tournament for quite some time. Here are some notes on each team from the day ahead of the final four.

GOLD CUP: Panama king in penalties in win over El Salvador

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For the second time this weekend a Gold Cup quarterfinal was decided in penalty kicks. This time it was Panama who came out on top 5-3 after they played El Salvador to a 120 minute 1-1 draw. The match had everything you could ask for in a match; theatrics, late goals, physicality, red cards and then the suspense at the end. It even had a stadium full of angry El Salvadorian fans who couldn’t believe their team blew a late 1-0 lead.

GOLD CUP: U.S. rise to challenge in 2-0 win over Jamaica

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There were a number of questions facing the U.S. heading into their Gold Cup quarterfinal against Jamaica. A regional power that was considered by some to be an underdog, the U.S. entered the match as a team struggling to finish and without their best player Landon Donovan in the starting lineup. Yet the Yanks took advantage of their strength in midfield, dominating possession and controlling the flow of the match. Adding a few finishes in the second half, and benefiting from a questionable red card, the U.S. put on their best performance of the Gold Cup and advanced to the semifinals to be played in Houston Wednesday night.

GOLD CUP: Reason to worry for one-time favorite U.S. squad

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On the day of the U.S.’ Gold Cup quarterfinal against Jamaica it’s seems like ages since the 2010 World Cup. Despite a tough extra time elimination at the hands of Ghana, the U.S. soccer program was riding high coming home from South Africa. Then the plane touched down and reality set in. A lackluster year and three underwhelming Gold Cup group stage games later and the U.S. are facing a tough opponent in a match that they’re not a favorite in. With Jamaica standing in the way of a semi-final berth, Bob Bradley’s U.S. squad will have to fight a team that’s more athletic and in better form.

GOLD CUP: Mexico & Honduras advance in tight contests

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We now know one of Wednesday’s semi-final matchups. After two hotly contested matches Mexico and Honduras survived the first round of the Gold Cup knockout stages and will meet Wednesday in Houston for a spot in the finale.

GOLD CUP: FIFA rules Mexico can replace suspended players

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It looks like the El Tri's Gold Cup doping issue has reached a conclusion. Days after the five players were given clean test results from a June 10 sample FIFA has ruled that Mexico can replace the five players they removed from the squad. After the reported failed tests on June 9 the Mexican squad has played with just 18 players – now 17 with Ricardo Osorio leaving due to illness – for much of the tournament. It’s not clear who they will bring in or when they will join the Mexican squad - which is preparing in New Jersey for their quarterfinal match with Guatemala.

GOLD CUP: Role reversal on one side of Gold Cup bracket

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Sunday’s quarterfinal matches show just how imprecise predictions can be. Teams that were considered to be favorites in the Gold Cup coming in are now underdogs and an unlikely group winner looks to continue a good run. So while Saturday features tournament favorite Mexico and a clash between Costa Rica and Honduras, Sunday offers a bit of role reversal for those involved.

GOLD CUP: U.S. pair to attend weddings while Mexico receive retests results

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United States stars Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan have been excused from Friday and Saturday training to attend separate weddings. The pair will be back to play in Sunday's quarterfinal match against Jamaica. While the U.S. will briefly miss two of their most valuable players, Mexico is still sorting out the fate of five players who failed May drug test. The five were in Los Angeles to receive the results of a second drug test - given June 10 - which came back negative. The question is where does the investigation go from here and could they be back for Saturday's match with Guatemala.

GOLD CUP: Previewing Mexico v. Guatemala & Costa Rica v. Honduras

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Eight teams are left standing in the Gold Cup. With two good matches and teams such as Mexico and Jamaica playing good football, the...

GOLD CUP: Canada fall at the death and USA overcomes finishing woes to advance

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There are tough losses and then there’s what happened to Canada Tuesday night. Literally a fraction away from securing a spot in the knockout...

GOLD CUP: Jamaica makes it a perfect group stage as Gold Cup quarterfinals comes...

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The consensus before the Gold Cup was this Jamaican team was the best assembled in quite some time. Still they were a popular pick to finish behind Honduras in the group. Monday night the Reggae Boyz dispatched Honduras with a 1-0 victory on the back of a Ryan Johnson goal to seal the group win and set up a match against the second place team in group C – currently slated as the USA. While Jamaica won group B Guatemala booked passage to the quarterfinals with a 4-0 win pushing them past El Salvador as a third place team. The results puts the rest of the quarterfinals lineup on the line Tuesday night when group C finishes with Canada and the USA needing results to advance.

GOLD CUP: Mexico continue dominance winning group A

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It was suppose to be the toughest test of the Gold Cup for the Mexican national team. It was suppose to be the true barometer for figuring out if El Tri is “for real.” A 4-1 win over Costa Rica should put any concerns to rest.

GOLD CUP: Surveying the Standings

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Heading into the final round of group stage games I thought it would be a good idea to survey where the teams stand. While group A seems to be a foregone conclusion, groups B and C are much less settled. Teams can still jump from third to first and change the landscape of the knockout rounds. So let’s take a look at where things stand heading into tonight’s action.

GOLD CUP: Defensive gaffs cost USA & Canada bounces back with win

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Its games like this that make you wonder about the U.S. soccer team. With a group C win in their grasp the Yanks dropped a shameful 2-1 result to Panama, putting the team in jeopardy of having a much tougher road to the finals. While the U.S. failed to take advantage Saturday night, their neighbors to the north took care of business against Guadeloupe early with a 1-0 victory to take a big step towards assuring passage to the next round.

GOLD CUP: Jamaica book passage to Quarterfinals while Honduras routs Grenada

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A night after Mexico clinched their spot in the knockout stage Jamaica parlayed a Friday night victory into a spot joining El Tri in the quarterfinals. Jamaica overcame Guatemala’s physical and disruptive style and took advantage of being up a man to dispatch the Central American nation 2-0 in the night’s opening match. Honduras finished the night notching the most lopsided victory of the Gold Cup – and that’s saying something – scoring seven unanswered goals against Grenada to put them in control for second place in group B.

Gold Cup: Mexico routs Cuba & Costa Rica survive scare

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Note to every team in the Gold Cup: if you play Mexico build a big first half lead if you want to win the match. For the second straight match El Tri played a close first half – this time taking a 1-0 lead over Cuba into the locker room – only to explode in the second half for their second straight 5-0 victory. Before El Tri took care of business against another overmatched opponent, fellow group A favorite Costa Rica needed a stoppage time bailout goal from Randall Brenes to rescue a point from El Salvador and keep their hopes of winning the group alive.

Report: Five Mexican National Team Players Removed from Gold Cup for Failed Drug Test

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Just hours ahead of their second group stage match against Cuba reports are circulating that five Mexican national team players have failed a drug test and have been removed from the squad pending further investigation. The five include Guillermo Ochoa, Maza Rodriquez, Antonio Sinha, Edgar Duenas and Christian Bermudez. Rumors are circulating that Ricardo Osorio also failed the test but that has not been confirmed.

Altidore Leads USA over Canada; Panama take down 10-man Guadeloupe

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The USA took the first step towards returning to the Confederations Cup getting their Gold Cup campaign off to a positive start Tuesday night. Putting in a workmanlike effort the USA took care of opening round business with a 2-0 victory over a very game Canadian squad Tuesday night. While the USA got a well-earned victory they’re joined at the top of group C by Panama who took care of a 10-man Guadeloupe squad 3-2 in the early game.

Jamaica Stakes Early Claim to Gold Cup Group B

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Jamaica sent a statement Monday night that they’re a force to be reckoned with in group B while popular favorite Honduras played to a less than stellar 0-0 draw against rival Guatemala Monday night at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles.

Costa Rica & Mexico Roll in Gold Cup Openers

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On the first day of Gold Cup action Mexico and Costa Rica confirmed what many already knew: they’re the class of group A. With a pair of 5-0 wins, Costa Rica and Mexico put on dominant showings – in Mexico’s case for 45 minutes – getting both teams off to a great start in their quest for CONCACAF dominance.

USMNT Outclassed by Relentless Spain

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When the U.S. scheduled today’s fixture with Spain they likely felt it would be a good tune up for a team destined to fight it out with Mexico for CONCACAF supremacy in the coming weeks. Spain got a brace from Santi Cazorla and goals from Negredo and Fernando Torres to down the host 4-0 ahead of their Gold Cup opener against Canada on Tuesday. What happened in Boston today was nothing less than a confidence shaker. Playing most of the match with their reserves, the U.S. were undone by a four goal performance from the reigning world champions on the backs of a number of outstanding performances from a mix of Spain’s “A” and “B” level players.

Examining the Gold Cup Group Stage: Who’ll be alive June 18th?

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With the Gold Cup starting Sunday with Costa Rica v. Cuba and Mexico v. El Salvador it’s time to take a look at the groups and peek at who are in line to earn the right to get to the knockout stages. While the favorites in each group may be easy to point out – although group B is wide open – I’ll take a stab at picking who will be alive in the tournament June 18th for the Quarterfinals.

CONCACAF stars in the shop window at the Gold Cup

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With the CONCACAF Gold Cup just days away from starting there’s an opportunity for players from around the region to use the regional tournament as an individual showcase. What players can make the most of the opportunity? Here’s a look at some players who can profit from a big month of June representing their country and parlay that success to the club level.

Chicharito Looking To Become 3rd CONCACAF Player to Play In and Win Final

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Saturday’s final between Manchester United and FC Barcelona has a number of storylines. For those in the CONCACAF region one storyline that sticks out is the inclusion and impact that Mexican sensation Chicharito can make on Saturday’s championship. While the Mexican’s ascent into stardom will receive a boost from winning the finale Saturday he’s not the first player from the CONCACAF region to play in the final. So who are the other two players who’ve taken part in the UEFA Champions League Final?

Five Thoughts on U.S. Gold Cup Roster

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After a little bit of a wait Bob Bradley released the U.S.’ Gold Cup roster and there were a few surprises included. With that in mind here are five or thoughts about the U.S. roster and how it affects their chances in the championship.