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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have very good insight into the game. One of the few that didn't think El Salvador would finish last in the Hex. I wonder you feel it will all end up now that we are half way through.