Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Puerto Rico the up and coming regional power

Puerto Rico is one of the up and coming CONCACAF teams. I predict it will be a consistent top 16 CONCACAF team in the near future. I can see them competing for the Caribbean Championship and soon they will enter the Gold Cup (reserved for the top 12 CONCACAF teams presently) frequently. The decision was made not to enter in the 2008 Caribbean Cup because they did not want to extent themselves. Colin Clark the skipper of the national team is also the coach of the Puerto Rico Islanders. The Islanders as you know are presently one of the 8 remaining teams in CONCACAF Champions League. The powers that be decided to increase interest in the sport through the Islanders by concentrating on the Champions league and marketing that.
I see two main factors will contribute to this increase to a regional power. Puerto Rico is a large island in the Caribbean Ocean with a population of about 4 Million. The island is roughly the same population as Costa Rica and Panama. These 4 Million (rounding up) need a national sport they all can take to. Soccer has dominated most of the Caribbean nations as the only sport. Puerto Rico has sports but no one sport dominates. Basketball, baseball, volleyball and Pro boxing have been more popular sport in the past. However times have changed. MLS started in 1996 and has slowly gained in popularity in the US. Since Puerto Ricans are US citizens (however they govern themselves) they have experienced a similar increase in interest in the sport. The Puerto Rico Islanders placed a team in the USA second division and they are very popular. They Islanders are also in the CONCACAF Champions league. This will create more interest for the sport throughout the island this year.
These 3.96 Million have on average $19.600 GDP per year. This is the key to their success. Many other Caribbean countries do not have any where near this spending money. Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income. Compared to other CONCAF nations in Central America and the Caribbean you can see their buying power many Puerto Ricans have. They will have more money to spend on tickets to Soccer games. Other CONCACAF nations field very good teams and with time Puerto Rico should field a quality team that can compete in the Gold Cup.
A new Puerto Rico soccer league is opened in 2008. There will be 8 teams in the Premier Division and they will have relegation. There are a few international clubs that are investing in the league to get in going. This will create even more interest on the Island and through out the Caribbean. Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago should enjoy the success they have on top of the Caribbean because there soon will be a new player to challenge for bragging rights.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fox Soccer to Telviset gold cup 2009-2011


Article states tha CONCACAF soccer is at an all time high. Fox had the rights to GC 2007 and now have the exclusive rights to 2009 and 2011 Gold Cups. It clearly states the english speaking rihgts. Like previuosly the game will probably be televised on Univision or Galavision.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Hex Venues

The Hexagon 2009 Venues
CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying

The six teams that reach the Final round will play a one double-round-robin, home-and-away group. The top three teams will qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The fourth place team will compete in a home-and-away play-off against the 5th place team from CONMEBOL.

What to look for:
These are the most intense matches that are played in CONCACAF. Each team gets to highlight it’s country, it’s National stadium, it’s fans support and it “play”. It is so important to get a result at home to earn the valuable 3 points. Every home team will go on the attack. The play will be as intense as the fans.

The Venues:
The USA (Yanks) has the Home Depot Center as their national stadium and national training center. However the Yanks move their team around the country to draw interest to the game. The Yanks now have about a half dozen soccer specific stadiums (SSS) (Utah, Colorado, Columbus ect.) to choose from. The SSS places the fan right on top of the action and gives the home team a great advantage. The yanks will look to play in cold weather sites since most CONCACAF opponents play in tropical climates. ..
The Yanks play a very defensive midfield game and can counterattack with speed to burn. Landon Donovan is the player to watch on offense. He can distribute and score. Bob Bradley’s squad has a good blend of experience (Mastronie) and youth (Altidore).The counter attacking tactic will help them on the road. They are the best team on set pieces. These 2 tactical aspects give them a huge advantage which will make them a clear favorite to advance.

Mexico (El Tri) is the Titans of CONCACAF. They have the most World Cup appearances (13). They have the most CONCACAF Championships with 7 Titles. They garnish the most media attention. They have the best domestic league. Their national team lives under a microscope. Every Central American team hates Mexico with passion. No team takes El Tri lightly. Their fans expect them to win every game. They live with pressure.
The good news is they play in Azteca stadium. This fabled stadium holds 130,000 screaming Mexicans lobbing insults and sometimes more. The high altitude and bad air quality from polluted Mexico City makes it one of the most uncomfortable places to play. El Tri have only lost to The Ticos (June 6, 2001) while playing in the Axteca. El Tri plays very well offensively here and go on the attack they will. They are anchored in Defense by Rafa Marquez. Their midfield has the very quick and they have youth in Andres Guardado 22 years old and 19 year old Arsenal attacker Carlos Vega.

Costa Rica (Ticos) The Ticos have qualified for the last 3 World Cups. This is not by accident. They have the most advanced domestic league in Central America. They have won 6 of the last 9 UNCAF Cups. They are the most physical Central American team. The Tico’s play their soccer games in Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá. This is the home of the purple power machine Saprissa. The Chinese government is building a new National Stadium for Costa Rica. Costa Rica severed political ties with Taiwan…go figure. Their skipper is Rodrigo Kenton who righted their shiup and won all 6 semi-final games leading up to the Hex. Walter Centeno has the experience in the middle to control the game for them. They will count on Bryan Ruiz of the Belgium league to put the ball in the net along with veteran Soborio. I see Costa Rica battling Mex and Honduras for the 2 remaining spots.

Honduras (Catrachos) always seems like the bridesmaid. Honduras is starting to change that thinking. Gold Cup 2005 they won the group with Columbia, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.. Gold Cup 2007 they were grouped with Mexico, Panama and Cuba and won that group. Finally in 2008 CONCACAF 2008 they won the Olympic qualification tournament in the States. Then again in 2008 they were placed in CONCACAF semi-final group with Mexico, Jamaica and Canada. They won this group. The mind set has changed and the Catrachos still feel they have something to prove. They play soccer in Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano which hold 45,000 fans. The stadium is located in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. They will be hosting the UNCAF 2009 Nations Cup there after Panama backed out of it’s obligation. ...
The Catrachos have the most dynamic offensive player (David Suazo) in CONCACAF. He is referred to as the Black Panther. He is fed by Amando Guevara who take his lump in the hard tackling MLS, for Toronto FC. It will be Wilson Palacios who plays in England to watch on the runs. Soccer is high profile in Honduras and all eyes will be on qualifying. I believe this is the year for the Catrachos. They will in a dog fight with Mexico and Costa Rica for the 3.5 spots.

El Salvador play in the very formidable Cuscatlan Stadium located the Capitol of San Salvador. The stadium is one of the biggest in Central America which holds over 50,000 screaming Salvadorians. The country is small but has 6.9 Million people. They have a huge rivalry with Honduras after “soccer war” in 1969. No one expected them to get by Panama but they did. They were placed in a easy group of Costa Rica, Suriname and Haiti. Most All their national players play in El Salvador. The national team has revived soccer and all eyes will be on their performance in the HEX. They are a young team and we could see surprises. Most journalist see them as the last place finisher but I do not.

Trinidad and Tobago (Soca Warriors) have their work cut out for them. I did not think they would advance out of the Semi-finals but they did. When ever I think of the Soca Warriors I think of Warner. When I think of Warner I think of corruption. This is a shame. I love the Soca warriors play. When they play the yanks the game was great. They yanks deployed an aggressive 5 man midfield and the Warriors immediately went over the top with long balls. These long balls were received with accuracy and the tactical game was great to see. They did not use thuggery, grabbing and late tackles like other home teams do. However this team is just too old with 40 year old Russell Latapy, Dwight York at 37 trying to control the middle. However never count a team out with Stern John attacking. They will play in Port of Spain and hopefully can stay in the hunt. Jamaica should be the Caribbean team here but semi-final grouping knocked them out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rommel Fernandez Remodeling 19.71 Million

Rommel Fernandez Remodeling to 19.71 Million

The remodeling of the national stage of soccer of Panama, Rommel Fernandez, will cost 19.71 million dollars, informed east Sunday the General Contraloría into the Republic.The source, in an official notice, indicated that the general controller of Panama, Carlos Vallarino, authenticated the contract between the National Institute of Sports (INDE/PANDEPORTES) and the company Administradora de Proyectos de Construcción, S.A. (APROCOSA) to realise works.The agreement, subscribed recently by the director of PANDEPORTES, Ramon Cardoze, and the representative of APROCOSA, Xiomara Pinto of Herrera, establishes that the contractor must conclude the work “within the 400 days calendars, counted from the delivery of the order of coming”, indicates the source.He emphasizes that, in case of delay, after the term indicated for the culmination of the work, the contractor will pay to state sport the equivalent to the 1 percent of the total value of the contract, divided between 30 days, for liquidation of damages by the caused damages and the same will be discounted of the payments that will have to take place him.The remodeling of the Rommel Stage Fernandez will duplicate its capacity with 126 new theater boxes, area for the commercial premises, 15,000 new armchairs, 4 dressing rooms with room of massage, hidromasaje, area of training, system of illumination and electrical board.The project comprises of the Sport City, that includes the remodeling of the Gymnasium Durán Robert; and that will count on a center of sport training, sport medicine and physical training.Also, of an area for lodging with 40 rooms, cafeteria, laundry and hall qualification; a synthetic field with prescribed measures and capacity for 1,000 fans, with dressing rooms, social area and illumination, concludes the Contraloría.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Nations Cup Expansion

Nations Cup is a biennial football tournament, held for the CONCACAF national teams of Central America (Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama).The tournament started in 1991 and it doubles as a qualifying event for the Gold Cup. These bigger tournaments have had guest teams’ play in them. The guest teams make tournaments more exciting in group play and have a much wider appeal. Guest teams let you gauge how your nation stacks up against other top nations in other Confederations. . The Gold Cup favored guest teams because they were trying to build the Gold Cup in its infancy. Brazil and Columbia each were invited 3 times to the Gold Cup which added legitimacy to the tournament as a top competition.
CONMEBOL only has 10 nations and they invite 2 nations to participate in their Championship. The 2 nations bring the participants to 12 teams so 3 groups of 4 teams are set up. Every tournament needs 4 team groups. Group of 4 teams has proven to be the best format. CONCACAF’s Gold Cup finally changed to this format in 2005 which proved successful. Cope America last play the round robin style in 1991 and changed to the 4 teams groups after.
The majority of the Nations Cups have been round robin play and a winner was crowned just like the earlier Copa America Cups. However Nations can fall behind early and interest wanes in a round robin tourney. Group play has you team playing at least 3 games before the thrilling knockout stage. There is a build up of excitement before group play begins. This has proven to be the best format.
The UNCAF Nations Cup is rotated amongst the 7 nations so no one nation has an advantage. The tournaments (Copa America and Nations Cup) are rotated around their respective regions. This creates interest in the respective regions and has proven to be successful.
The UNCAF tournament now creates an odd group of 3 teams in the preliminary group stage. I think it is time to add a team that would complete the odd group. The Cope America Cup and the Gold Cup each have added nations to spice up their field to create interest. It is time the Nations Cup follows suit.
The problem is who you invite. You do not want a team like Brazil that would dominate the tournament at one end and you do not want a team that would be cannon fodder either. You want a team that is equally as good as the top Central American powers. The desire would be to have a team that would create interest and enhance the tournament. You want a nation that could become a rival to some of the Central America nations. You would want a nation that is similar to the Central American nations.
UNCAF does not have to look any further than the Caribbean nations. The Caribbean region competes within CONCACAF with UNCAF nations. The Caribbean teams play Central American teams in World Cup Qualifiers (WCQ). They also play them in the Gold Cup. There is already a history and this rivalry can be enhanced.
The Nations Cup should invite the 5th place finisher from the Caribbean Cup. The 5th place finisher would complete the odd group of 3. The regions could gauge how their teams stack up against each other. Then you could have 5 teams from this tournament advance to the Gold Cup. This would still guarantee 4 Central American teams advance. The 4 teams that made the knockout stage and the 2 3rd place teams could compete for the last Gold Cup spot. This would give both regions a shot at placing 5 teams in the Gold Cup. This would also increase interest to the Nations Cup with another vitally important game.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


  • Group 1
  • USA
  • Guatamala
  • Cuba
  • Trinidad & T
This group is led by the defending Gold cup champions USA. They are the team to beat here. They are well organized and very fast on the counter attack. They are the best team in CONCACAF on set pieces. Their strength is GK and holding midfield. Player to watch is Captain L Donovan. Guatemala finally got a coach who will stress offense. It has shown in their 9-1 aggregate. T&T is a circus now with the constant controversy surrounding federation. Cuba is the unknown here and defections are always a problem.(US and Guatemala)

Group 2
  • Mexico
  • Honduras
  • Canada
  • Jamaica
This was considered the Group of Death before it was formed. All favorite easily beat their opponents so now we have the Hex's Group of death. This really will be the HEX for the teams that get knocked out. Mexico highlights this group and they are excellent at home. Honduras has come on strong and beat the Tri in the Gold Cup. Canada plays a very physical game which is how you beat Mexico and the other skill teams. Jamaica has rehired the Brazilian coach again and the thrashing they gave the Bahamas bodes well for the Jamaican faithful.
(Mex and either Hon/ Can)

Group 3
  • Costa Rica
  • Suriname
  • Haiti
  • El Salvador
Lets start with the surprises. El Salvador has momentum now after beating 5th ranked Panama. They will be tough in the very hostile Cuscatlan Stadium. Suriname beat fancied Guyana in the South American showdown with a very young team. Costa Rica returned to form and is a favorite to advance. Haiti the reigning Caribbean Champ over came a very organized Netherlands Antilles team to make this group.
(My guess Costa Rica and Haiti)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Evolution of the Gold Cup

The Evolution of the Gold Cup

Looking back
CONCACAF was founded in its current form in 1961 after the merging of NAFC and CCCF. This resulted in a single competition being held for the continent every two years from 1963 to 1971. The first official national team competition was in El Salvador in 1963. However here was not enough interest to keep the tournament going.
The World Cup qualifing was considered a tournament every 4 years that doubled for the CONCACAF Championship. The host nations Haiti 1973, Mexico in 1977 and Honduras in 1981 all won the Championship and represented CONCACAF in the perspective World Cups. It was very obvious that there was a huge advantage the home team has when they host such tournaments. Other nations pointed our the descrepancy of having such an advantage.
The next 2 World Cup qualifing tournaments were played in 1985 and 1989. This qualifing tournament was much fairer. There was no fixed venue since these games were home and away series. Canada won the World Cup qualifing tournament (home and away) in 1985 and Costa Rica won in 1989. Soccer however was gaining huge popularity throughout the world and the CONCACAF teams were not keeping pace. Something had to be done.

The vision
CONCACAF teams had talent but they just did not play together enough to keep pace with other national teams. This was not enough to develop quality teams or draw interest from your home supporters. “To put it in perspective, in 1991 (CONCACAF president Jack Warner) said we needed to grow and develop, and our national teams need to get better.” Said executive secretary Chuck Blazer. “At that time, our national teams were only playing World Cup qualifers. Jack thought that we should create an event which would take place every two years, with the effect of keeping our national teams alive. Now you can see how our national teams have progressed against the rest of the world. And in this tournament, there use to be big blowouts but now there were more games decided by a one-goal difference that any before.”[1]

The First Gold Cup (Gold Cup 1991)
The USA won the bid to host the 1994 World Cup and need the experience of hosting and playing in the biggest sporting event in the world. The US was chosen to host the first installment of the Gold Cup in 1991. There were 2 groups of 4 teams. Each group played in either Pasadena or Los Angelos California. No one really knew what to expect. The semi final teams were US 2:0 Mexico and Honduras 2:0 Costa Rica. USA beat Honduras in penalty kicks in the inaugural event in front of 40,000 screaming fans at LA Memorial Coliseum. Tony Meola the US goal keeper received MVP honors. Total attendance was 197,284 for a total of 16 matches (12,300). CONCACAF had a success first tournament that had not been held for more that 20 years earlier (1971).

Mexico’s Revenge (Gold Cup 1993)
Since USA won in 1991 Mexico clamored to host a group and final. They wanted to reclaim top dog status in CONCACAF. CONCACAF granted the influential federation hosting rights and the Tricolors responded with a domination performance. They scored 28 goals for and only 2 against. Mexican Zaguinho scored tournament high 12 goals in the 1993 Gold Cup which stands as a record today. Mexico also took out some revenge with an emphatic 4-0 romp over their arch rival in 1993 in the fabled Estadio Azteca. Over 120,000 spectators crammed in to see the game and interest was sure building. It was obvious that Mexico had the best team with the most fans in CONCACAF. The confederation was very pleased with the interest and attendance but the profit was just not there in Mexico. Soccer was a business and Warner was looking for a better return for efforts. Gold Cup would return to the US. Total attendance jumped to (32,296 per match) for 16 games.

The Brazilian Draw (Gold Cup 1996) The World Cup USA 94 was held in America and it was very successful. The next installment of the Gold Cup 1996 was very contentious. The confederation was very concerned that any tournament would be lacking in stature compared to the World Cup status. They wanted fans to attend and they did not want a drop off after the first 2 Gold Cups. The decision was made to invite the World Cup Champions Brazil to participate. Brazil could legitimize any tournament and they had fans everywhere during the World Cup. The confederation wanted Brazil fans to pack their stadium for the Gold Cup.
This 1996 format had 3 groups with 9 teams. This format had the winners of each group plus the second best second place finisher. The games were held in the winter season so the 3 California venues were chosen in San Diego, Anaheim and LA. Your chances of advancing really depended on which group you were placed in. The Yanks and Mexico were not placed with Brazil in group play for good reason. The confederation needed their 2 big teams to advance. Mexico, Brazil and the Yanks won their groups while Guatemala squeezed in to make their first semi-finals. Mexico squared off and beat Guatemala in one semi-final 1:0. Brazil knocked the Yanks out of World Cup USA 1994 and again knocked the Yanks out again in Gold Cup 1996 with a score of 1:0. Mexico saves face for CONCACAF by defeating Brazil in the final 2:0. Mexico did not concede a goal the entire tournament. The attendance jumped up to 88,155 in the Los Angeles’ Memorial Coliseum for the final. Total attendance went down to (28,732 per match) but the American dollar ruled.

“Landmark Edition” (Gold Cup 1998)
The 1998 edition had the same format but one extra CONCACAF team was added to make 9 CONCACAF teams and Brazil. Brazil however was bringing it’s senior team this year. There were 3 warm weather cities again that hosted that were LA, Oakland and now Miami Fla. This was an awakening for CONCACAF teams. Jamaica and Guatemala tied the Samba Kings in group play. The USA finally beats Brazil (1-0) in the knockout round. It was first win against Brazil in an international competition and their first goal against them in 68 years. Kasey Keller won MVP honors for his remarkable performance in goal. Brazilian superstar Romario was quoted as saying “That’s the best goalkeeping performance I’ve ever seen…it was an honor to be on the field with him tonight”. This was a huge step that CONCACAF teams could compete and beat the World Cup Champions Brazil. Mexico reasserted it’s dominance over the region by claiming its 3rd Gold Cup in a row. The confederation was also very pleased that the attendance of 91,255 spectators in the LA Coliseum for the Final topping the 1996 edition. Total attendance was for 16 matches (26,707 per match avg). CONCACAF officials were thrilled. After 4 editions the CONCACAF Championship Gold Cup was off and running.

Exotic guest teams! (Gold Cup 2000) The confederation wanted to expand the tournament and believed the fans base was there after the first 4 Gold Cups. They believed they had the teams in CONCACAF to draw attention as one of the top global tournaments. They "The 1998 Gold Cup was a landmark edition firmly establishing the tournament as one of the major competitions in the world," said Confederation President Jack Warner. There was an entirely new format in 2000 which increasing participation to 12 nations. CONCACAF still only fielded 9 CONCACAF nations and 3 exotic guest teams. The guest teams consisted of Columbia, Peru from CONMEBOL and Korean Republic. This gave the Gold Cup a real international flavor to it. The Korean Republic thought the Gold Cup would be an invaluable experience since they were to co-hosting the next World Cup 2002. All guest teams would be bring good quality teams. This format still 3 team groups but a 4th group was added with the extra teams. Two groups played at same location for a good reason. Each game would be a double header to ensure big crowds. The fans could see 2 games from 2 different groups. This also ensured that only 4 teams would be dropped before the knockout round. To me this guaranteed that the US or Mexico was sure to get through to the knock out stage even with guest teams. This format was good for the teams that made the knock out stage but was awful for teams that got knocked out. This format could only have your team playing 2 games in your group and you would be done for another 2 years. To me the most exciting time is in the group play. There is much discussion before play begins. These are always the talk of the “Group of Death” in the World Cup and CONCACAF could have its own “Group of Death” that could be talked about.
Marketing Disaster
Group play in 2000 went along ok until disaster struck in the knockout round. The US and Mexico both lost in the quarter finals by Columbia and Canada respectively. Once Mexico was knocked out so was the crowds and interest. The attendance for the quarter finals set a record for lowest attended knock out stage games at about 3,000 a piece. The final was the lowest attended final in Gold Cup history at a measly 7,000 and that is being generous. Canada saves face for CONCACAF by beating guest team Columbia and wins their first international Championship in over 100 years. This however was a financial and marketing calamity for CONCACAF. Attendance does not increase as the tournament went on but rather declined. Total attendance plummeted to (12,289 per match). CONCACAF did not foresee both the USA and Mexico losing so early and interest disappear.

Downward trend (Gold Cup 2002) CONCACAF wanted to avoid a guest team from knocking either Mexico or the Yanks out in 2002. A simple solution for the 2002 edition was to reduce the guest teams and increase the Caribbean nations. They increased the CONCACAF field to 10 teams (4 Caribbean) with 2 guest teams, Ecuador and Korean Republic. The format stayed the same, 3 locations for group play to ensure large crowds. Attendance was ok until Trinidad & Tobago vs. Martinique with Canada vs. Ecuador was the double header. Only 3,827 turned out for this double header. There was no following for Caribbean teams or the guest team and Canada once again was involved in setting low attendance record.
The quarter finals were a fiasco also. Mexico got knocked out by another guest team (Korean Republic) and the fans left to. Meanwhile trouble was unfolding in the other bracket where Canada beat Martinique. Canada had played the US to a scoreless draw in the semi final game. The confederation has to hold their collective breath because the game had to be decided on penalty kicks. The US keeper Kasey Keller stopped the disaster in the making and the US went on to the Final. The Yanks beat Costa Rica 2-0 with a very poor showing of 14,432 in attendance for the final. The fact is reiterated that it is the Mexican national team that brings the fans. The Central American teams and the Yanks are a distant second with fan support. Most Caribbean teams bring as many as a guest team, which is insignificant. Total attendance sank to 184,979 for 20 matches (9,249per match) and the Gold Cup was on a treacherous downward trend.

Relying on Mexico (Gold 2003) CONCACAF had developed an image and attendance problem with the last 2 installments of the Gold Cup. The image they were suffering from was so called “lesser” marketable teams were going deep in the tournament. These teams did not have the fan base as other top teams and thus the attendance and interest was suffering. The Gold Cup wanted to regain it’s stature that was built up before 2000 and 2002 Gold Cups.
CONCACAF officials went to work to develop a plan to reverse the direction the Gold Cup was headed. Officials knew the US market was important but not as vital as Mexico’s presence through out the tournament. The first step was to have Mexico play on their home pitch throughout the tournament. Mexico could pack the house in their national stadium when they play there and they rarely lose at home. They wanted another marque team that could attract attention, fill the stands and also not get knocked out early. The confederation called upon Brazil again to accomplish this feat. The Confederation made a great adjustment to play the tournament in the summer season to try to get the Northern Markets of the States.
Warner knew the next World Cup CONCACAF nations could place 4 teams in it. Warner worked behind the scene at FIFA and finagled that CONCAFCAF 4th place team would play Oceanic Football Conference for a spot in the World Cup. He wanted all his CONCACAF teams to be playing top competition. He did not shy away in this area. The invitation was also extended to the reigning Copa America Champion Columbia. This Gold Cup 2003 was the breakthrough tournament for quality teams. Four huge issues were addressed and Warner still retained corporate sponsorship by playing the majority of games in the states.
Mexico wanted to have Brazil in their Group A with Honduras in Mexico City. Group B would be played in Miami’s Orange Bowl because of the strong fan support. Gillette Stadium would host Group C and Group D. Double headers at Gillette would ensure a large crowd. The winners of Group play were Mexico in Group A in Mexico City. Columbia won Group B in Miami, the Yanks in Group C and regional power Costa Rica in Group D. CONCACAF powers destroy the Caribbean teams while the guest teams battles each other. Costa Rica asserts is dominance over El Salvador(Q Final scores Mex 5:0 Jamaica, Bra 2:0 Col, USA 5:0 Cuba, CRC 5:2 SLV.) The format was stacked against the guest teams here. After Brazil was placed in the most difficult group with Mexico and Honduras they advanced, only to travel up to Miami from Mexico and play Columbia. Brazil knocked out Columbia but now had to face the USA. The Yanks just dispatched Cuba 5-0 and they were confident and ready. They luckily got by the Yanks here in sudden death. A penalty kick by Diego sank the Yanks but now Brazil had to travel back to Mexico to play the Tri again in Estadio Azteca. (The Semi Finals Bra 2:1 USA, Mex 2:0 CRC.) Mexico had the advantage of not traveling and playing on their home pitch and they were well rested. Mexico again beats a travel weary Brazil and Warner and the federation breathed a sigh of relief. CONCACAF made an excellent pick in Brazil. They elevated the tournament with visibility and their World Wide appeal. They were very entertaining and more importantly to Warner Brazil brought 35,211 fans to the semi finals. This was 5 times as many as the previous year and 80,000 witnessed another Mexico victory over Brazil and calm was restored in the Gold Cup. Total attendance regains it’s footing and goes back up to over 392,000 spectators. Future hosting
An alarming issue developed in Mexico however that troubled the host. When Brazil played Honduras in Mexico only a scant 3,000 spectators showed in the cavernous Estadio Azteca. This attendance was distressing at best to the confederation and Warner. Mexico had over 150 Million soccer crazed people in its population but no one was interested in other national teams. Mexico could not get a good crowd even when popular teams like Brazil and Honduras played in Mexico City. How could a Central American country possibly host or hold such an event when their population is less than 1/10 of Mexico’s? This attendance figure coupled with the 2000 and 2002 attendance disasters checkmated other countries from hosting. CONCACAF could not take that chance. They wanted to build the Gold Cup not kill it like previous regional CONCACAF Championship. The regional Championship will stay in the states where Warner could get the most cash and largest crowds.

Northern Markets and 4 team groups (Gold Cup 2005)
The Gold Cup 2005 edition was a very ambitious undertaking for the confederation. This would be the first time the locations would increase from 3 to a whopping 7 venues. The venues consisted of Carson California Home Depot Center, LA Memorial Coliseum, Houston’s Reliant Stadium and the ever popular Miami Florida’s Orange Bowl. The northern markets of Seattle, New England and New York fans were eager to show that they like soccer too. These northern areas were huge markets to be tapped and officials were right. This also made the tournament a national event connecting both the East and West coast with games.
The format was changed slightly again for the better. The groups finally had 4 team groups of 3 groups for the first time. This meant your team at lease could play at least 3 games in the regional Championship. This almost guarantees that the US, playing on its home pitch will not be one of the 4 going home after group play. This has been a good “catch net” for CONCACAF to almost guarantee both the US team and the Mexican team could stumble in group play but recover enough the make the knock out phase. CONCACAF needs either the US (TV market and corporate interest) or Mexico (fans-attendance) to continue in the tourney to make it a success (I am talking money here). Again there would be double headers to ensure attendance at every game. 2 guest teams in South Africa and Columbia were added to spice up the 2005 field.
The play: Honduras came out on top in Group A in Miami with Panama, Columbia and T&T. Group B started in Seattle than moved to the East Coast Foxborough, Ma. Group B was a tie between Costa Rica and the Yanks with 7 points apiece. Mexico won Group C with South Africa, Jamaica and Guatemala. They started in Carson then moves to LA California.
The knockout round had (QF=Col 2:1 Mex, Pan 5:3 S Africa(penalty kicks), USA 3:1 Jam, Hon 3:2 CRC). Mexico again loses in the quarter finals however this time the attendance did not suffer as much. Fans from other national teams were building and they turned out to support their team. Panama went from minnow to instant titans when they knocked off South Africa in the quarter finals and then beat Columbia in the Semi-finals to rid the Final of any guest team.(Semi-F Pan 3:2 Col, USA 2:1 Hon ). The team that was waiting for them was the King Pin… USA. Panama shut the Yanks out in regulation before succumbing to penalty kicks in the Final. Louis Tejada (Pan) received MVP honors for his outstanding play for Panama. Panama showed the depth of CONCACAF that they too could play with the big boys and knock them out in a major international tourney. The story for Warner however was the total attendance which skyrockets to over 800,000. The confederation had a good financial decision to increase the venues to 7. Many CONCACAF teams have numerous fans living throughout America. These 7 venues totaled over (32,000 per match). They witnessed many exciting and entertaining matches by doubling the previous edition.

Increase Media Coverage (Gold Cup 2007)
The 2007 edition kept the field of 3 groups with 4 teams. It worked great in 2005 so why change it. The only tweak was the dropping guest teams. The national teams consisted entirely of CONCACAF teams in the 2007 Gold Cup. This was a great decision by the federation to give 12 national teams a chance to participate in their own regional Championship. The winner would represent CONCACAF for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. All CONCACAF teams would be bringing their best senior team to play. The quality of play was not compromised.
Group play was the tightest it has even been. Canada’s Julian De Guzman received MVP honors for his outstanding play that helped Canada out of the tightest Group A. They were followed closely by Costa Rica, Guadeloupe and Haiti. Group B started in Carson, California then moved to Gillette Stadium in New England. This group had The Yanks (host) continued their dominance in group play by beating Guatemala, El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago. It was the Yanks and the Guatemala who made the knockout round. Group C started at Giants Stadium, NY then moved to Reliant Stadium in Houston. Honduras won the hardest group consisting of Mexico, Panama and Cuba. (The Cuban team folded after players defected.) Attendance increases by breaking up group play into 2 venues and a quarter final. The fan only has 2 chances to see his/her national team play before they move on. There were many stories to follow in Gold Cup 2007. Guadeloupe had a fairy tale ride to the semi-finals. This was a great story of the little island battling and beating the powerhouses of CONCACAF. Guadeloupe’s great run will be talked about in future years by football enthusiasts. This is what the Gold Cup needs. A rich history of CONCACAF teams (not guest teams) upsetting the powers of CONCACAF. Then there were the continuous stories about the turmoil in the Mexican locker room. The Media attention Mexico’s national team garners is astonishing. Then there also were many questionable calls by the referees where Panama, Costa Rica and Canada were on the unfavorable end and Mexico and the USA benefited. Quarter Finals The US held on the beat a swift Panama team. Canada pounded Guatemala, Mexico scored in extra time in a very physical game against Costa Rica, and Guadeloupe score 2 early goals to overcome the powerful Honduras side.(USA 2:1 Pan, Can 3:0 Guatemala, Mex 1:0 CRC added time, Guadeloupe 2:1 Honduras.) The Semi Final were 2 excellent games. The USA held on to beat a well organized Canada team, while Pavel Pardo’s 30 yard strike eliminated upstart Guadeloupe. (USA 2:1 Mex.) The final was a wide open, entertaining game and drew in a 2.5 national rating on Univision. That translates to 2.83 Million households, nearly double the 1.48 million homes that watched the 2005 Gold Cup final. The attendance also increased 15% to (36,859 per match). The 2007 Gold Cup was considered one of the best Gold Cup ever with attendance, marketability, media coverage and the play on the field.

[1] Frank Dell’Apa; Boston Globe June 26, 2007