Thursday, October 8, 2015

CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying 2015

     The USA and Mexico have won their groups. USA scored 13 and gave up 2. They will play Group B runner up Honduras who scored 4 and gave up 2. You can throw that out window. The game is Saturday at 1:00pm local time (Mountain Time Zone).

Mexico will face Canada who scored 6 but gave up 6. Canada will have their work cut out for them to beat the perennial power of Mexico (7 GF and 1 GA). Mexico has only been scored on once my Honduras.

Mexico has participated in 10 Olympics while Canada only 3. The last being 1996 since the USA were hosting the Olympics did not participate in qualifying.

All is not lost on Canada however. They have reached the semi-finals the last 3 qualifying tournamnts. They have a good organized defense.....

Monday, September 7, 2015

Oct 9th Rose Bowl Yanks v Aztecs

This is the clash of the titans in CONCACAF. Usually there is more hype that interest in this match. This game however - results will propel the winner to represent CONCACAF. The winner will represent the best of our region to the rest of the football world.

The winner will be playing the other winners of the other confederations. The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup  is a dress rehearsal for the FIFA 2018 World Cup. The USA badly wants to participate in this event to provide badly needed practice for the World Cup. The coach wants it so he can play more games and fine tune the national team. The president of USA soccer wants it since it provides more exposure to the national team and can be viewed as a measuring stick as to how far the USA has progressed in the sport.

The fans want it since it provides a tournament the USA badly needs. The European teams have Euro 2016 qualification and then the Euro 2016 tournament in between the World Cup. The USA doesnt have to qualify for the Gold Cup and even though they lost in the semi finials does provide the dept of quality teams game after game.

That being said this game will almost be as big as a GOLD CUP title match against Mexico. The game is on home soil however there will probably be more Mexican fans in LA than USA fans. Sam's Army and the other nationsl fans have really exploded in vocalization and membership. They were great in the last Gold Cup and it was great to see.

Klinsmann is still tinkering with his line up but you can bet he will put out a few veterans. Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley will be slotted in the middle. I see Dempsey and Altidore up front. 

The defense will have some youngsters but so it goes....

Sunday, September 6, 2015

CONCACAF 3rd round comments

Well the biggest story and surprise is 139th ranked Nicaragua over 52nd ranked Jamaica. As you remember Jamaica had a tremendous Gold Cup. Jamaica won their group in the Gold Cup for the first time. The group consisted of Costa Rica, El Salvador and Canada. Jamaica then went on and beat Haiti and the USA in the semi finals before losing to Mexico in the final. Jamaica has also won the last Caribbean Cup and is one of the dominant forces in the Caribbean. This was a huge stepping stone for Nicaragua and their rapid improvement over the last 6 years in the sport. It would be a shame not to see Jamaica onto the next round however this would do wonders to help Nicaragua assert itself in the sport.

Then what happened to Guatemala in Antigua and Barbuda. Guatemala lost 0-1 to this tiny Caribbean nation. This however can not be viewed as a shock. A&B have been playing extremely well and have a well discipline team. IT is very difficult to win in Guatemala just ask the Yanks. Guatemala will be going full force Sept 8th ---they key will be to hang on early and try to frustrate Guatemala. This will be the second most interesting result after Jamaica -Nicaragua.

 as a team. I am a big fan of Canada since I believe they have great potential. They easily beat Belize 3-0 however only 10,000 fans showed to support team Canada in this critical qualifier. I remember 50k showed to see  Montreal play in the Champions league in Montreal a few years back. Where is the support for team Canada. Lets see Canada win in Central America after their devastating 1-8 massacre in San Paulo in 2012. Woops---was I not suppose to bring up the daemons.

El Salvador won 1-0 ugly over Curacao. I was disappointed in El Salvador players flopping all over the field like fish out of water. But what I like about El Salvador is the skill they have with the ball. I guess its the bad with the good. Curacao looked big athletic and confident....

Haiti beat Grenada 1-0

Saint Vincents and the Grenadines beat Aruba 2-0. St Vinny use to be known as the giant killers. Well Aruba are not giants but St Vinny just might make the final 12 in CONCACAF. Their arch rivals are Antigua and Barbuda....would it be interesting if both St Vinny meat A&B in the final 6 group. This would really ratchet up the rivalry....

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Gold Cup 2015 Review- Great attendance, controversy and Caribbean success.

2015 Gold Cup Review

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2015.svg

Gold Cup 2015
Group A
USA, Honduras, Panam, Haiti
Dallas Toyota Park
Gillette Stadium
KC Sporting Stadium
Group B
Costa Rica, Canada, El Salvador, Jamaica
StubHub Carson
BBVA Compass Houston
BMO Field Toronto
Group C
Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, T&T
Chicago Soldiers Field
Phoenix Stadium Arizona
North Carolina
Total Group C
Total Group Att
Total Group average
Quarter Final-Baltimore & Met Life
 US v Cuba, Haiti v Jam
 (Mex v CR, T&T v Pan)
 US v Jam & Pan v Mexico
Philadelphia -Mex vs Jam *
PPL Park , US v Pan*
Total Attendance
Average Att
* All games were double headers except thes

                There was a good deal of media attention from the US market leading up to the 2015 Gold Cup.  The winner was to play the winner of the 2013 Gold Cup (USA) for the right to represent CONCACAF in the 2017 Confederations Cup Russia. There would again be 13 cities however 14 venues, there would be a 3rd place match at PPL Park the day before the final.                                                           There was also the decision to guarantee only 4 slots each to Central America and the Caribbean. The final slot was decided by a playoff between the 5th CA nation (Honduras) vs the 5th place Caribbean nation (French Guiana).  

The final would be played in Philly for first time. Canada would also be hosting a game that the Canadian National team would be playing in. Canada's Group B again would play in all Soccer Specific Stadiums (SSS). The USA group A would again have 2 SSS and one big venue. Mexico as always had the task to fill the largest stadiums, which they did. Mexico’s again had the best attendance, just about doubling that of the USA group attendance. Group B was only slightly behind the USA but respectable. Total attendance I recorded at 573,364 (I only count double headers once-CONCACAF counts the same person twice, which is a joke). This is the second best attendance in the history of the Gold Cup. So CONCACAF officials can say, the Gold Cup is improving every tournament.

There were some problems with this Gold Cup. Michael Bradley spoke out about playing so many games with only 2 rest in between. One day was use to fly from one state to another. This really taxed the players. Cuba again had players defecting during the tournament, which really diminished their team. Jamaica players were not getting paid and almost boycotted games. There was grass laid over artificial turf which both the media and team officials complained about behind closed doors.

      This tournament had many surprises and controversies. First Mexico won their 7th Gold Cup after stumbling and bumbling in the group stage. They also beat Costa Rica and Panama in AET. Both games Mexico received favorable and very questionable calls that led to penalty kick that resulted in goals. These goals assured Mexico the victories. Never the less Mexico wins another gold Cup.

      Jamaica is the only Caribbean nation to reach the final for the first time. Jamaica had played in the Copa America the month before, which really sharpened their play. Jamaica also won their group of Costa Rica, Canada and El Salvador with 7 points. Jamaica then went on to beat Haiti and stun the USA in the Semi-finals 2-1. No other Caribbean nation has beaten the USA in the Gold Cup.  Jamaica had a great tournament and we will look forward to them in the Copa America 2016.

      Panama also had a tournament of first. This year they were undefeated in group play tying all 3 games. Panama then went on to beat group C winner Trinidad & Tobago. This set up a very controversial game against Mexico. The feeling was Mexico was going to get the call and just like previous tournaments, a controversial called was made. The Panama player dove backwards on top of the ball, which he should have never done. Greir, the ref whistled for a hand ball, which was I though was too harsh, since I did not see the hand ball. The Panama players accosted the refs, debris of liquids bottles came toppling down from the Mexican fans on top of the Panama players. This was the UGLY of CONCACAF soccer. Panama did play in the 3rd place game and finally beat the USA, in a penalty shoot out.

      The USA wound up in 4th place-their worst showing ever. The USA team never really jelled. Klinsmann wanted to keep possession and move the ball to open lanes. The problem was USA MF did not have a dribbler to penetrate the final 3rd. USA FW were fine, Dempsey won the most goals with 7. The problem was Klinsmann is building for World Cup 2018. The is only 1 year after the World Cup and Klinnsy played a very young team. He also played Michael Bradley too much. What is to much….well every game is to much. The USA can still redeem themselves against Mexico October 9, 2015 in the Rose Bowl. The winner gets to go to the 2017 Confederations Cup.

      Trinidad and Tobago had their second best Gold Cup (2000 they placed 3rd) winning a group C for the first time. Not only did they win their group, they finally gain a point against Mexico. This group game was the most entertaining which saw 8 goals scored 4-4. T&T will now play Haiti the 3rd seed for one of the 2 final spots for Copa America Centenario 2016. Date will probably be in the Fall.

Haiti placed 7th and will play T&T in a playoff for a Copa America Centrino spot. This will guarantee that at least 2 Caribbean nations will participate in this tournament.

      This was an outstanding tournament for the Caribbean nations. First there were 2 nations (Jamaica and T&T) who won their groups. It was also the first time a Caribbean nation reached the final (Jamaica). All 4 Caribbean nations advanced to the knockout round for the first time ever while 3 of the 5 Central American nations did not advance.  Cuba placed 8th but it was good enough to get them to a playoff against Panama for the other Copa American Centrino.