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