Thursday, December 10, 2009
Commissioner Garber, who was joined by MLS President Mark Abbott for the meetings, met with Joey Saputo last night and then traveled this morning with the Impact president to meet with Quebec Minister of Finance Raymond Bachand and Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay.
"We continued our discussions with the Saputo family about a future MLS expansion team in Montreal and had very productive meetings with Minister Bachand about securing funding for the expansion of Saputo Stadium," Garber said following his morning meetings. "We've stated many times that Montreal would be a great market for MLS and we look forward to continuing our discussions."
"We are very happy with the visit of the MLS executives in Montreal," declared Impact President Joey Saputo. "The meetings this morning with Minister Bachand and Mayor Tremblay were very positive. It's clear for us, and now more than ever, that the arrival of MLS in Montreal is only a question of time. We are hoping to have news in the first quarter of 2010."
The second-division Montreal Impact currently play their home matches in Saputo Stadium, a 13,034-seat venue that opened in May 2008. Saputo Stadium was designed to be able to increase capacity to meet MLS standards.
The 2010 MLS season will feature the debut of the League's newest expansion club, Philadelphia Union. In 2011, the League will grow to 18 teams when Portland and Vancouver enter the League.
ABOUT MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCERHeadquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in the United States and Canada. MLS features many stars from the U.S., Canada, and around the world. MLS kicks off its 15th season on March 25, 2010. MLS will feature 16 clubs each playing 30 regular season matches in 2010. Those teams include Chicago Fire; Colorado Rapids; Chivas USA; Columbus Crew; D.C. United; FC Dallas; Houston Dynamo; Kansas City Wizards; Los Angeles Galaxy; New York Red Bulls; New England Revolution; Real Salt Lake; San Jose Earthquakes; Seattle Sounders FC; Toronto FC; and, in their inaugural season, Philadelphia Union. Expansion teams in Vancouver and Portland will debut in 2011. For more information about MLS, log on to the League's official website at MLSnet.com.
ABOUT THE MONTREAL IMPACTThe Montreal Impact was founded in 1993. With the participation of founding partners such as the Government of Quebec, Hydro-Quebec and Saputo, the Montreal Impact became a not-for-profit organization in 2002 and ever since, the club's attendance has systematically increased, from 5,000 fans per game in 2002 to over 12,000 in 2009. Throughout the years, the Montreal Impact has become one of the most decorated teams in the United Soccer Leagues, with three championships, in 1994, 2004 and 2009, and the Canadian championship title in 2008. The club's mission is to contribute to soccer development in Quebec, which regroups no less than 200,000 affiliated players. For further information on the Montreal Impact, visit the official website at impactmontreal.com
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Maryland beat Loyola 2-1 then beat Penn St 2-1 to reach the Sweet 16. They will play the smart guys from Harvard. ACC Champion Virginia is on a roll. They slaughtered Bucknell 5-0 and face the only team that has defeated an ACC team so far, Portland.
Moving over to the other bracket we see BC beat Dartmouth 2-1 then shout St Johns in New York 1-0. They will face Drake. North Carolina shut out Brown 2-0. The ACC record is 9-1 so for in the tourney. 6 out of the 7 teams have made it to the Sweet 16.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Asia(4)— Australia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea.
The top team from Asia is the team that came from the Oceania Confederation, Australia. Australia changed confederation since the Oceanic was such a pitiful confederation. In the 2006 Oceania final round of 6 Australia was 4-1-0 (W-D-L) and the had 21 GF and 3 GA. This only qualified them to a 2 game playoff with Uruguay. They lost 1-0 in Montevideo and won 1-0 in Australia. This playoff had to go to a shootout which the socceroos won. They moved to Asia and again came in first in qualifying with 20 points. It is a lot easier to get one of 4 slots in Asia than to compete for the .5 Oceanic slot. If one Asian team can go deep it will be Australia.
Africa (6) — Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa (host) The African nations will be playing on their continent for the first time. This should give all the African teams a boost. The Ivory Cost I consider the top team followed by Nigeria. S Africa I have last however every nation will want to be in the group once groups are picked.
Europe (13)— Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland. It is usually a European team or a South American team that win the World Cup and it should be no different here. The favorites have to be Spain, England, Netherlands and Germany. However any team can win it. Greece won a European Championship. Denmark just toyed with USA in a friendly. France and Italy have won World Cups….could it be Portugal’s year?......
South America (5)— Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay. Brazil and Argentina always make the World Cup and this tournament is no different. I find it odd that ½ the teams from CONMEBOL make the tournament. I think UEFA is stronger but they only get 13 slots with 53 teams competing. Regardless about my pet peeves Brazil and the rest bring flair to the game that otherwise would be dominated by European teams….so good for them. It is always interesting how these perform on the big stage. These are 5 quality teams that could get through the group phase. Brazil is the Favorite in this group.
CONCACAF (3) — Honduras, Mexico, United States
This is the confederation that I follow. My confederation that the Yanks are in. I only rank CONCACAF above the Oceanic confederation. CONCACAF is top heavy and the competition drops off. Mexico has advanced out of the group stage in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006. That is 4 in a row. Mexico has small players however the pressure cooker that the soccer players face prepares them for the World Cup. They live with this pressure everyday. We are all waiting for the Yanks to advance deep however with injuries to Davies and Gooch make them vulnerable. You have to score to advance so look for goals from Landon Donovan. Honduras is happy to be in the big dance. Competing and scoring will be big. Advancing will be tremendous.
Oceania(1)— New Zealand do not want to be imbarrassed.....
Thursday, November 19, 2009
That statement followed a desperately unlucky campaign by the Boys in Green (losing out on goal difference) against Holland, Belgium and the French in an effort to reach the World Cup finals in Spain the following year.
Twenty-eight years later, Platini’s words came back to haunt him as the UEFA President remained deafeningly quiet following one of the biggest injustices the game has ever seen, a wrong which, as luck would have it, was perpetrated against the Irish on Wednesday night at Paris’s Stade de France.
Chasing a 1-0 deficit from Saturday’s first leg in Dublin, the Irish got just what the doctor ordered when Robbie Keane netted on 33 minutes. The visitors, playing some superb football, might have finished off the tie with a second, but their efforts came agonizingly close on four occasions.
Fast forward 70 enthralling minutes to extra time, where Thierry Henry chased a long pass into the Irish penalty area. With the ball headed out of play, and another French opportunity gone begging, the Barcelona based ‘ambassador of football’ stuck out his left hand to control the ball illegally, not once but twice, and then squared to William Gallas who scored in an unguarded net.
Henry even admitted it afterward:
“I will be honest, it was a handball. But I’m not the ref,” he said. “I played it. The ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him."
“I’m in the box, there are two defenders in front of me. The ball bounced off my hand, the referee did not see it and I played on."
The French striker was more than a little evasive in saying the ball bounced off his hand - rather he reached out and caught the thing in a move Randy Moss would have been proud of.
Though it was admirable of the French World Cup winner to admit his sins, the hurt wasn’t any less for Ireland and their fans who were devastated after missing out on the World Cup through what coach Giovanni Trapattoni called a “great mistake” by Swedish referee Martin Hansson.
“I told the referee that it is possible to make great mistakes,” Trapattoni said. “It is a bitter evening.”
Trapattoni made the valid point that the official should have talked to his assistants before awarding the goal, the Italian’s wish that he might also have interacted with Henry being slightly ambitious.
“All the European people saw the game and what happened. France played a good game in Dublin, but this time we played better and over the two games we deserved to go to South Africa,” Trapattoni said.
“The hand was so obvious, we're disgusted,” Robbie Keane said after the game before aiming a broadside at football’s governing body. “FIFA absolutely did not want Ireland at World Cup.”
And inevitably Platini’s name came into the mix once more (after the French victory) as the Frenchman was blamed, along with FIFA’s number one, Sepp Blatter, for arranging an easier passage for his compatriots in the playoffs.
With eight countries vying for the final four spots in Europe, FIFA curiously decided to seed the draw - a move which drew the ire of the smaller countries like Ireland, Bosnia, Slovenia and Ukraine (this ‘seeding’ process wasn’t part of the initial rules of the competition).
But while the seeding argument will likely soon drift over the horizon, the handball incident in Paris, which is already being likened to Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal in Mexico in 1986, will not. The clamor for TV replays in soccer is likely to reach a crescendo now.
Everything You Needed To Know About FIFA:
Those in charge of the world’s most popular game, had on their own web site within hours of the Paris World Cup tie, the following entitled article: ‘Gallas Breaks Irish Hearts’
The article rambled on for 637 words, yet made no mention at all (that’s nada, rien, nothing) of a handball during the game. Go figure?
By Mark Stokes
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
"I will be honest, it was a hand ball. But I'm not the ref," Henry said. "I played it. The ref allowed it. That's a question you should ask him."
First non call)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
2 New York
3 San Jose
4 Kansas City
5 Toronto FC
6 FC Dallas
7 D.C. United
9 New England
10 Chivas USA
14 waiting for playoff results
The ACC I believe has the best soccer conference. They have 9 teams and 6 of them are ranked in the top 25. here is a link to the the All Conference First team, second and All Freshman team.
Offensive Player of the Year Corben Bone, Wake Forest
Defensive Player of the Year Ike Opara, Wake Forest
Freshman of the Year Andrew Wenger, Duke
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
1. Trinidad and Tobago 2. Panama 3. Canada
The Tier 2 nations are always my favorite to do. This year I am adding 2 team to this group to make 6 nations. Honduras has graduated to Tier 1 but El Salvador and Cuba has joined this prestigious group. Here is how I rank each nation. Remember I am looking at World Cup Qualifying, the Gold Cup and then either the Nations Cup or the Caribbean Cup to rank the national teams. Then I will take a quick look at the domestic and see how it stacks up against other domestic leagues. I am making my judgment on the representative performance in the Champions league.
The top team in Tier 2 goes to the Soca Warriors of Trinidad and Tobago. I have not been a huge fan of Warner and that has affected my judgment of this great little soccer playing nation. Soca Warriors have participated in the last 3 hexagonal campaigns which is more than any other team in Teir 2. They also qualified for 1 World Cup Germany 2006. This aspect alone places Trinidad and Tobago on top of Tier 2. Trinidad and Tobago has also qualified for 7 of the last 10 Gold Cups. They have also dominated the Caribbean winning 8 of the last 14 Cups.
They also have a competitive domestic league. Joe Public is Warner’s team that plays in the domestic league. The Trinidad and Tobago team Defense Force has 2 CONCACAF Champions Leagues titles to boast about. These titles came back in 1978 and 1985. Most recently 2 Trinidad and Tobago club teams made the group stage in 2009-10 Champions League. San Juan Jabloteh and W Connection.Trinidad and Tobago gets the top spot in Tier 2 because of their consistent strong national team and Club teams.
Panama remains my second slot because the region of Central America is much better than the Caribbean region. Panama has to battle Costa Rica, Honduras and now El Salvador and Guatemala in the Nations Cup. Panama however has only qualified for 1 Hexagonal campaign out of the last 4. They came in dead last in Hex-06 with no wins 2 draws and 8 losses. They also had a -17 goal differential. This is what is keeping them out of Tier 1. They have had a bad overall record in the Nations Cup however thing are changing in Panama. They have qualified for the last 3 Gold Cups in a row. They even made it to the final in 2005 losing to the host. They won the last UNCAF Nations Cup in 2009 beating their rival Costa Rica in the Final. They also made it to the UNCAF final in 2007 losing to regional power Costa Rica. This strong showing of the national team places them second in Tier 2. They have recently investing $19 Million to refurbish their national stadium. Their domestic has been very poor for decades but there has been a huge upturn in both the national team and the Domestic league over the last 10 years. Tauto has the most Titles with 7. Arabe Unido is this years Champions League 2009/10 participant. They beat Honduran titan Olimpia in the Preliminary round. They surprised everyone by getting by MLS power Houston Dynamo and El Salvador rep Isidro Metapan.
Canada is my third team in Tier 2. I can only judge the national team by their performance in the Hex and the Gold Cup since they do not participate in UNCAF or Caribbean Cups. Canada has only made one hexagonal campaign out of the last 4. That campaign was in the 1998 qualifying and they came in dead last winning only 1 game. They have faired much better in the Gold Cup. They have qualified in 9 out of the last 10. They made the finals and won once in 2000. They made the semifinals twice in 2002 and 2007. They play very well in the States against the other CONCACAF teams.
They have built a national soccer specific stadium in Toronto called BMO Field ($65 Million) which opened in April of 2007. Canada does not have a domestic league but has Toronto FC and now Vancouver Whitecaps (2010) play in MLS. The Montreal Impact is also a very successful team in Canada. They had the most fans of any team during the 2009 Champions League topping over 50,000 in a league game. Toronto FC continues to be a leader in attendance for MLS. Even though they do not have the top team in MLS fans support their club in Toronto.
El Salvador make the jump from tier 3 last year into the 4th spot in Tier 2. Los Cuscatlecos have made the Hex 2 of the last 4 cycles. The beat Panama in the preliminary round then got by both Haiti and Suriname in the semi-finals. They were in the last Hex and had a very good showing for themselves. They beat both their top regional rival Costa Rica and Mexico in Cuscatlon Stadium. El Salvador was 8 losses and 1 tie since 2003 against Costa Rica. The last 2 games whey won in the important World Cup Qualifying and Gold Cup matches. These were 2 significant victories for El Salvador against their regional power, a team they could never seem to beat. These victories are what propelled El Salvador into this group.
The have also participated in the Gold Cup 6 of it 10 times. They have not faired that well playing in the States. Their domestic is evolving and we are getting more exposure to the teams in El Salvador. What we do know is that there is more of an equal distribution of talented teams like Mexico and MLS. They do not have a few dominant teams like Honduras and Costa Rica. This should keep the competition going in El Salvador.
Jamaica remains in Tier 2. They remain here after a strong showing in World Cup Qualifying. They beat Mexico, Honduras and Canada in World Cup Qualifying. They also had an outstanding Caribbean Cup winning the 2008 Caribbean Cup Championship. Jamaica is one of the top Tier 2 teams because of the hardware. They have won the Caribbean Cup 4 times of the last 13 Cups. Since 1990 they are the only other Caribbean nation (besides Trinidad) to quality for a World Cup spots this coming in France 1998.They have qualified for the Gold Cup 7 of the 10 times. Jamaica however underachieved in the last Gold Cup 2009. They team had plenty of talent but floundered and did not mount a cohesive attack. This is the reason I place them behind El Salvador.
They have a competitive domestic league however there is no dynasty like other nations. This makes for great seasons have new faces in the Championship. A very popular team is Harbor View.
Cuba moves up out of Tier 3 to join this very competitive group in Tier2. I consider Cuba one of the 3 powers in the Caribbean. There is over 11 Million people who live on this island nation. It is to bad there players will defect when they play abroad. I believe this is the reason why they back out of the last Gold Cup. Players would have left the team and the nation politically looks bad. They have qualified for the Gold Cup 6 of the last 10 Cups.
3. Costa Rica
I am going to rank the nations in CONCACAF as to the “program” that each country has. The ranking is based on the national team and the domestic league the nation has. The criteria I will use World Cup Qualifying, the Gold Cup and Caribbean Cup or UNCAF Cup to gauge the national team. I will also look at how the top Club teams from each country faired in the Champions league.
Their domestic league has very good talent at the top. Olimpia, Marathon, Real Espana and Montaua are the high profile teams that jump out at me in Honduras. Olimpia won the Champions League twice to represent Honduras on the Club stage. Marathon made the knock out round last year CONCACAF Champions League. The 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League place 3 clubs from Honduras (Marathon, Olimpia and Real Espana.) Marathon again made the knockout round. The strong showing of the national team and the consistent play of Honduras club teams solidifies their spot to join the Elite of ConCACAF.
Next will be tier 2
Posted by James Lagrange at 12
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Well the 2010 CONCACAF HEX is in the books. The usual suspects in the Yanks and Mexico again qualified. That makes 6 in a row for the Yanks. Now if Mexico did not cheat that would be 7 World Cups in a row for the mighty Tri Color.(Mexico was disqualified from the 1990 World Cup because it had fielded ineligible, overage players in the 1988 Olympic qualifying tournament.)
Honduras has to be the biggest surprise in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. The received the automatic berth by gaining 16 points thus tying Costa Rica but beating them on goal differential. This will be the first World Cup for Los Catrachos since the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Hondurans need something to cheer about since their country is in disarray right now. There was a military-backed coup June 28 led by Roberto Micheletti, the former Congress speaker. Zelaya, the ousted President is believed to be in the Brazilian embassy and all surrounding countries are working for a peaceful solution. I, myself am ecstatic that another CONCACAF team besides the big 3 has made it to the big dance. This is Honduras best national team ever with the likes of MF captain Amado Guevara(Toronto FC) and Wilson Palacios(Totterham Hotspur) feeding the lightning quick Davis Suazo (Internazionale) and the giant Carlos Pavon up front. Hopefully they represent CONCACAF and more importantly Honduras well in South Africa.
Costa Rica is one of the 3 giants in CONCACAF. They have made the HEX in the last 4 cycles. Even more impressive is that they have made the World Cup the last 2 times and now find themselves is a playoff against a South American power Uruguay. Costa Rica has a huge challenge but Saprissa stadium will be an advantage and the pressure will mount on Uruguay. This will be a great 2 games.
Looking at the last 4 Hex’s it is hard to prove statistically that CONCACAF has improved. The US and Mexico have been 1-2 or 2-1. 3 of the 4 cycles. Costa Rica came up with a great performance in the 2002 cycle coming in first place with 23 points clearly beating the yanks and Mexico who ties with 17 points.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Let’s start with the leaders. The Tico's have to start taking the games serious again. They were slaughtered in San Pedro Sula 4:0 against Los Catrachos. Getting beat is one thing in qualifying but the 4:0 ..it seems that the Tico’s defense collapsed. The Tico’s have to correct this issue to stay in the top stop. The good thing for the Tico’s is they return to Saprissa stadium and that God awful field turf. The bad news is they face a very confident Mexican team that is technically savvy to hold the ball and pull off the win. This will be one of the better games watch.
The Tico’s then travel to Central American neighbor El Salvador. This is a great local trip for the Tico’s to assure themselves a spot in South Africa but they can not look past El Tri in San Jose. The next game in Cuscatlan will be very intense with regional bragging rights at stake. We will see just how good the Tico fan’s claim they are. The Tico’s games are the most difficult to predict but I see them getting 4 points here after these 2 games.
The Yanks are also in good shape with 10 points. They play El Salvador in Rio Tinto Stadium then travel to Port of Spain. There is always a question as to the partisan crowd when games are played in big cities like NY, Chicago and LA but Utah will be a very pro USA crowd. Rio Tinto is a brand new stadium that has an intimate feeling with 20,008 capacities. The field is a grass surface so all the European based players will not be bitching about the surface. I see the Yanks playing a very offensive attacking game right from the start. El Salvador has to go into a shell and stay on defense. The longer the Yanks do not score the better for the El Sal. I see the yanks rolling in this game and winning soundly.
The next games yanks go on the road to Port of Spain. This is where they scored the famous goal to propel them to the 1990 World Cup in Italy. They know if they get a win on the road they will virtually assure themselves a World Cup spot. T&T is the most likely place where the Yanks can get their road points. Since the Yanks would have played the week before their game will be much more fluid and decisive in Port of Spain. I see the yanks finally getting a raod win in Port of Spain. Yanks get 6 points with these next 2 games.
Honduras is tied for second place and can smell blood. They next play T&T in San Pedro Sula then travel to Axteca. They just pounded Costa Rica 4:0 and the Soca Warriors are not as good. They will not take their foot off the gas and go all out to get the home win against the Soca Warriors. Honduras has 2 very imposing figures up front in Costly and Pavon and talented midfielders who can slow the game down.
I see them going into Azteca very confident. Honduras knows they can beat Mexico but to do it in the Azteca is a bit more difficult. Honduras will play for the tie in Azteca and hope to get a point on the road. I see Honduras getting 3 points with the next 2 games to keep pace.
Mighty Mexico is back. Mexico has gained tremendous confidence in the last few games. They won the Gold Cup against the Yanks 5:0 then they again beat them 2:1 in Azteca Stadium last week. They will need it since they will be playing the group leaders in Saprissa then travel home to face the second place Honduras team. Saprissa will be a challenge for any team to win. Saprissa Stadium will be loud however Mexico is a team that always faces pressure. They will try to keep the ball just as they played keep away in the Gold Cup. This will keep the Tico’s from advancing on offense and keeping the crowd at bay. This should be a very tight game with a very memorable goal scored.
El Tri then travels back to the confines of Azteca. Here they go on offense and rarely does another team beat them. I see them beating Honduras here to really keep the top 4 teams close on points. I see El Tri getting a home win and possibly a point on the road. 4 point is reasonable.
Like I said El Salvador chance was lost in Round 6 in Trinidad. They only lost 1:0 but they need a point to keep within striking distance. They did not get it and now only have 5 points and have to travel to the States (Utah)then play group leader Costa Rica. I see them losing in the States and losing confidence as the World Cup opportunity slips by.
If they play well in the States they just might beat Costa Rica again. They beat the Tico's in group play in the most recent Gold Cup. They went all out to establish a tone for this huge game in San Salvador. El Salvador will give everything they have for their home fans in Custcatlan Stadium. 50,000 will be screaming at the top of their lungs. If they want to remain the player they have become recently and to do this they have to win at home. I only see them getting 1 point over the next 2 games.
T&T travels to Honduras and will have to get very opportunistic goals. I do not see them winning here however they have added 2 new players. These players could be just what T&T needs for confidence to win. San Pedro Sula is a very difficult place to play so T&T will rely on the long ball here.
After this game the get the Yanks in Port of Spain where they have already beat them 2:1 in World Cup qualifying in October 2008. I do not see T&T winning in San Pedro Sula so they will hold back on their offense until they return to Port of Spain. I do not see T&T getting any points here so any points will surprise me. By the way I love how the Soca Warriors play the game. They are tactically sound with talented players on offense. They attack the weakest part of the opponents defense and they do not play the thuggery game most home teams deploy. That said....I always have to question Jack Warner and the angles he has to make money. He has been out of the spot light which is good for CONCACAF and great for T&T.
All this being said I see the top four creating distance between the bottom 2. The Yanks will get an automatic spot. Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras will try to avoid the dreaded 4th place finish. Since I see the Yanks and Honduras winning their home games easily. The big games to determine the 4th place finisher will be played in San Jose (CR vs Mex) and Mexico City (Mex-Hon). These will be historic games so stay tuned.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
What happened in Sealttle in the Gold Cup with Attendance. Slightly over 15,000 showed up for the Gold Cup double header. Seattle even had the USA in their group. The Sounders are the lead attendance team in MLs at slightly over 30,000 per game. CONCACAF officials thought they were going to hit a homerun with attendance in Seattle. They even schelued the game on the birthday of America July 4th for added effect. Well Seattle was the flob of Group B.
This leads me to the MLS expansion topic. Many people claim that if you build a SSS stadium then people will pack the stadium. The stadium is what makes for a great atmosphere thus makes it a great destination. They compare it to MLB Fenway Park and Camden yards. They also can now add in Crew Stadium and HDC that both have good attendance because of the stadium. I think this thinking is rubbish.
I saw look at Pizza Hut Park. This is a sss and Dallas has had the lowest attendance almost every year in MLS. You are going to tell an investor to invest Millions and claim "build it and they will come" ...I guess that is why you are not a millionier and they are. Seattle doen not have a SSS and they are the lead attendance team in MLS.
So why gives.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Well things certanly tightened up in the standings. The big rivalry between Mexico and the Yanks played out in Mexico City. Over 100,000 Mexicans poured into Astec stadium to see their hero's play. They did not disappoint their faithful winning 2-1 against their bitter rival to the north. El Tri needed the victory much more that the States and they got the points they desperatly needed. The game was now without it's rivalry dislike for eachother. Charlie Davies went down with cramps and 2 Mexicans attenpted to "help" him off hte ground....that when tempers heated and pushing got involved. In my hockey days I would just drop the gloves and knock someone out....I would probably not be long for soccer. I am amazed at the restraint soccer players have.
Honduras clearly is a player now in qualifying. They are tied for the second spot with the yanks with 10 points. aAfter a resounding 4-0 trouncing of Costa Rica. Yes mightly Costa Rica got pasted in Estadio Olimpico in San Pedro Sula. Costa Rica can stop beating there chest now however the Tico's are still in first place. They also have a road vistory over the newly improved T&T. After seeing the armed guards in the Stadium maybe the Tico's were afraid to go on offense.
Trinidad & Tobago finally got a win beating El Salvador in Hasely Crawford Stadium 1:0. T&T is a very long shot to advance so the loss really hurts El Salvador chances. San Jose Earth Quake C Glen scored for T&T.
Counl not find highlights
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Gold Cup 2009 Review
After a long vacation that ran right in the middle of the Gold Cup I am back. Sorry for not posting but I felt a little let down after the Yanks lost. Sitting back a while I had time to reflect if this was a successful Gold Cup. I have to say yes it was. Total attendance was 468,688 (average 36,053). This was slightly down from Gold Cup 2007 488,722 (37,597). This was a success since it was less than a 10% drop from 2007 but still outpaced Gold Cup 2005 340,131 (26,164avg). When reviewing averages we all must understand that it is
Group A was considered the group of death going into the tournament. I still believe it was the most competitive group. Canada was the surprise here beating Jamaica 1:0 and El Salvador 1:0 with a possession game and timely scoring. They tied
Attendance Group A The fans packed into the Home Depot center making officials very confident in the opening game. “A sold-out stadium of 27,000 clearly favored
This was the best Group A could do though. The next double headed was in
Group B had the favorite
Group C the favorites
This group led attendance because of
The group total attendance of 2009 was inline with the 2007 total. I do not know if playing only 1 game at each venue prevented a bigger discrepancy but facts are facts and there was not a huge dip.
The quarter finals in Philly pitted the highly confident Canucks against the Catrachoes. The feature game had the Yanks against
The semi final in
Total Attendance 2005 Gold Cup 340,131 (Average Att 26164)
Total Attendance 2007 Gold Cup 488,772 (Average Att 37597)
Total Attendance 2009 Gold Cup 468,688 (Average Att 36053)
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Mex should have gotten another penalty shot later but the ref let it go.
Mexico brings the fans and they will be celebrating tonight. giants stadium was packed to capacity. Mostly Mexico fans in attendance.
This victory was great for Mexico and good for Concacaf.
I will be working on a revew shortly
Monday, July 13, 2009
Is it because there are less international stars at this tournament?
Do you think changing the venues for every game help prevent a bigger slip in attendance?
Gold Cup 2007 Attendance
Canada, Costa Rica, Guadeloupe, Haiti
Game 1 Orange Bowl, Miami 17,420
Game 2 Orange Bowl, Miami 22,529
Game 3 Orange Bowl, Miami 15,892
Total Group A Att 55,841
USA, Guatemala, El Salvador, T &T
Game 1 Home Depot Center 21,344
Game 2 Home Depot Center 25,000
Game3 Gillette/Boston 26,523
Total Group B Att 72,867
Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Cuba
Game 1 NY/NJ Giants 20,230
Game 2 NY/NJ Giants 68,123
Game 3 Houston 68,417
Total G C Att 156,770
Total Group Att 285,478
Quarter Final Gillette G-1 22,412
Semi-Final Chicago 50790
Chicago Game 2
Total Attendance 488,772
Average Att 37597.85
2009 Total attendance so far in group matches 221,020 which is a drop of 64,458 from 2007 figures
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Columbus Crew stadium has a capacity of 22,500 however only 7,059 showed up for the double header of this group. In contrast in 2005 22,529 showed up for game 2 in Miami, Fla. and all 3 games were played there. This figure in Columbus is about 1/3 of the last Gold Cup .El Salvador fans again outnumbered all the fans of the 4 teams. The last game will be played in Miami so we will see if it location or just the fact that this Gold Cup is not as important or interesting as the 2007 version.
Again Canada surprised me. They are now 2-0. Ali Gerba the future Toronto FC player now has winning goals in both games he has played. Much credit should go to the coach from Trinidad and Tobago - Stephen Hart. Hart was the coach who coached them to the very successful 2007 Gold Cup semi-final. His style is to keep the ball away from the opponent as much as possible to limit their chances. His team is physically bigger and stronger than most Central and Caribbean teams. His team is not as tactically gifted with creativity however they are tactically organized and hard to break down. The again won 1:0 against El Salvador and now sit atop group A.
Central American power Costa Rica only scraped by with a 1:0 victory against Caribbean Champion Jamaica to stay alive. I say scrapped by since Jamaica went down a man in the first half with a red card. Remember A3 (possibly Costa Rica) could play B1 winner (USA) in the opening quarterfinal. That would be a great quarterfinal to see. Costa Rica will have to score against the stingy Canuck defense to overtake El Salvador for the coveted 2nd place.
Jamaica, loaded with quality players, looks like they will bow out of this tournament with a whimper. I had high hopes for this star studded team that looked to be the first team not from North America region to win the Gold Cup. The Reggae Boyz will hear it from their fans who have called them Raggae Toyz in the past for sub par performances. Jamaica will be playing for respect and respect is what this team needs now.
El Salvador will want to avoid 3rd place or even elimination if they lost their last game. They will want a good performance heading into the final Hex qualifying later this year. If the Cuscatlecos lose to Jamaica they could be endanger of not even advancing after their historic win over Costa Rica. So it seems all the games in group once again have been the most interesting to me
The 2nd round games were played at RFK Stadium in the nations Capitol. The capitol was picked as one of the venues because 2 main factors. There is a good MLS fans base for D.C United and many are of Latin American decent. The playing surface is a nice grass field which makes for a good game. Players prefer the grass field much more than artificial turf. Attendance was 26,079 and that is very comparable to 2007 Gold Cup Group B 2nd game (25,000) in Carson Cal. Most fans again were wearing Honduras White and Blue stripes. However the ratio was better for the Yanks at about 60-40 in Honduras favor. This is a good sign for the USA support.
The game to determine the group winner was very even game until the Yanks scored late in the second 1/2. The Yanks will take to top spot and play the least ranked opponent from Group A3 or Group C3. The Yanks did well once they inserted 2 Confederations Cup participants in Davies and Feilharber. These 2 change the dynamic of the game into the Yanks favor. The Yanks won 2:0 and have not yet been scored on. The yanks are the clear favorite now. Yes the yanks are playing their B team but other teams like Honduras, Costa Rica and Mexico are resting many of their top players too.
Honduras should take 2nd place after they play lowly Grenada in the last game at Gillette Stadium. Presently Honduras would face Guadeloupe in the quarterfinal. That would be a great game after Honduras lost to Guadeloupe in the 2007 Cup 2:1.
Haitian fans now have hope. They were the Reigning Caribbean Champions from 2007 Cup. They were place in the Final round in the 2009 Caribbean Cup with Cuba, Guadeloupe and Antigua and Barbuda. They only got to play 3 games and were bounced out in Kingston. Other Caribbean teams had been playing for some time in the opening rounds and were much more fluid. With the Yanks already assured a quarterfinal birth they may send in everyone who has not played. This is good news for les Grenadiers who hope to get stronger and more cohesive as the tournament progresses. I win here could boost their confidence and we could have the Cinderella story.
Group C review will be added after tonights games...
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Do you notice all the dark blue shirts supporting El Salvador. Gerba impresses again...he is a keeper!
Jamaica 0:1 Costa Rica
I am very surprised and disappointed in Jamaica performance.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
CONCACAF officials must have been very happy to see a sellout at the Home Depot Center. 27,000 fans showed up to support their nation. The first game between Canada and Jamaica the stadium was not full. The fans came to see the second game between El Salvador and Costa Rica. I would guess to say that El Salvador fans outnumber Costa Rica fans 5 to 1 in the final game. El Salvador fans were not disappointed either. El Salvador played with confidence and finally beat their nemesis to the south. This was significant since El Salvador had not beaten Costa Rica since 1997. This 12 year span included loses to the Tico’s in the UNCAF Cup and other Gold Cups. This will be a huge confidence boost for El Salvador as they play the other 2 teams in the Group of Death. Canada did crash out of World Cup Qualifying and they did not even win a game in the semi-final round. Most Canuck fans were distressed at the national situation. Before the tournament even started Dwayne De Rosario and Adrian Serious decided not to participate. Both of these players would have been starters. A sinking feeling was taking over camp but the CSA pressed on. Canada had to open against Jamaica. They could not beat Jamaica at home in World Cup Qualifying and they lost 3:0 in Kingston. Jamaica had a plethora of international stars in GK Donovan Ricketts, Ricardo Gardner (Bolton Wanders), Luton Shelton (Valerenga) and Omar Cummings (Colorado Rapids). They are my dark horse to win the entire tourney. Well we all know about the late heroics that Canada had beating the Reggae Boyz.
Both of the favorites will clash in Columbus. This will be the battle for survival. The winner between Canada/ El Salvador may very well be the winner of the group. To me these will be the most interesting games.
The group so far is falling into typical shape. Both The Yanks and Honduras won. Seattle Qwest Field had the lowest fans attendance so far. This is disappointing to the USA federation. Seattle wants to be known as the soccer city in America but attendance of 15,387 is almost ½ of what shows for a Seattle FC game.
The Yanks Camp: The story so far for the Yanks is that the plan is working. They want to develop the young guns to develop depth for the national team. Bradley played 2 experienced midfielders and the creative/youth was up front and on the wings. At forward Bradley had Davies and Adu and on the wings in Robbie Rogers and Stuart Holden. All 4 of these players had youth on their side. Freddy Adu 20, Robbie Roggers 22, Charlie Davies 23 and Stuart Holden 23 all scored in the 4:0 blanking of Grenada. The yanks dominated possession with short passes to involve everyone. They changes direction of field to look for weaknesses. They dominated shots, shots on goal and goals. To me I was happy with Rogers. The left side is the Yanks national team is their weakest spot. Rogers (a pure left footer) was always dangerous with the ball. He had 7 serves from the left side in the first half...when I started counting. I stopped counting after Holdens goal. The young “Creative positions” at forward and the wings had to please Bradley. However they will get a better assessment against Honduras.
The group winner will be decided next game in D.C. Honduras beat Haiti with a Costly header late in the game. Haiti looked better than Grenada if there is a winner between the 2 …that team could advance. Other group teams (especially Jamaica and Costa Rica) will be hoping for a tie.
I was glad to see Nicaragua stayed competitive the whole game. Nicaragua stayed in form and they were hard to break down. "They made it difficult for us," Aguirre said about Nicaragua, a team making its Gold Cup debut. "They stood back and never came out of their area, complicating things. But we take perseverance out of this. This was a team that looked and looked for a solution and that first goal took off some of that pressure. I think the score is just." Just as CONCACAF is developing so are the teams. It was good to see a competative Nicaragua team perform. Again I saw the referee not call clear yellow and ever red cards against El Tri.
Guadeloupe again impressed beating the UNCAF Champion 2:1. Most on Guadeloupe team play in French National leagues that have regulation. The second and third tier leagues are better top to bottom that the top tier teams in most of the Central American nations. Guadeloupe was a revelation in 2007 however they have a quality team that could take top honors not only in the Group but the entire tournament. We were confident enough that we knew we could do something interesting in this tournament," Guadeloupe captain Stephane Auvray said. "The most important thing was to get the three points, but I think we can do better in the next game. We can keep the ball much more, but for the first game it's a good start." Would this be a black eye for CONCACAF if Guadeloupe won the Gold Cup?
Saturday, July 4, 2009
- Seattle Times U.S. national soccer team looking to build on its successhttp://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/sounders/2009417427_usasoccer04.html?syndication=rss nothing new and hardly an oppinion.
- Associated Press. http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/sports/299683.php Again nothing new a few quotes about interest coming from Latin American section of America....slow growth from youth soccer but no revelations.
Jamaica seems to have the talent but just did not put it togather. They have to come out with an attitude in Columbus or it will be a long and quiet trip back to Kingston.
Here is Canada vs Jamaica highlights. Rickett made an outstanding save....maybe be save of tournament already what do you think? The stadium was not full at this time....fans were waiting for El Salvador game.
I wathced the first half of the Costa Rica El Salvador game. What I was impressed with were the fans that were packed into the Home Depot Center(27,000). Here is a quote from the LA Times "Fans piled into the stadium hours before the match, clogging the streets surrounding the Home Depot Center at least a mile behind."1
It has been over 10 years since El Salvador has beaten their regional nemesis. Finally Costa Rica has some challengers in Central America.
The stadium was over 80% wearing El Salvador Blue. The LA Times indicated that the first match was a sellout at 27,000. Phooie to those of you who that this would be the "worst Gold Cup ever"
Here is El Salvador vs Costa Rica highlights
Was that a fans at the end with a blue shirt getting handle by 8 guards?
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
- Grenada -Sharlie Joseph will not be playing for Grenada due to injury
- The USA team will be able to have 30 players since they participated in the Gold Cup. This means to me they organizers do not want to USA to lose early. The reason was players would be taxed, tired ect. However there are only a few players who are coming from South Africa to participate in both tourneys
- El Salvador will be without forward Eliseo Quintanilla. Quintanilla, who has two of El Salvador's six goals in World Cup qualifying, has opted to join his new club, Greek Cypriot side Ermis Aradippou
- Costa Rica will be with out Furtado, who has scored two goals in three World Cup qualifiers, was dropped from the squad after the initial sample of his doping test during the Costa Rican league finals returned positive, the Costa Rican federation said.
- Mexico will not have Cuauhtemoc Blanco, no Rafael Marquez, no Pavel Pardo. Ricardo Osorio, Oswaldo Sanchez but they have young talent that will be on display
- Canada will not have De Rosorio nor
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, USA
Group B will feature the defending Champions USA, Central American representative Honduras and two Caribbean teams in Grenada and Haiti. The group will first appear in the newest MLS venue, Qwest Field in Seattle. Two games will be played on July 4th, American’s Birthday. The Yanks will play against Grenada and should have great fans support on this day. I do not see Grenada mounting a consistent attack this day and the Spice Boys will be in for a long day. Honduras should take care of Haiti in the other match. Then the group travels across the country to the nations Capitol and plays at RFK stadium. Honduras has 4 times as many fans (as the Yanks) in Chicago for a World Cup Qualifier earlier in the year. D.C also has a very large Latin American populous. It will be interesting if Honduras fans out number the Yanks fans in our nations Capitol. This game should determine the winner of the group. To me this game could go either way with an edge to Honduras. The other groups will take an interest in Grenada vs. Haiti. Other group’s teams will hope for a tie so neither team will advance to the knockout round. If there is a winner here the winner may go through as a 3rd place team…so the game will have meaning no only to Haiti and Grenada but also the other two groups.
The group then travels up the Atlantic coast to New England’s Gillette Stadium. If Haiti had any chance against the USA it would have been in an early game. The USA’s dept, playing on their home pitch and all the traveling, will propel the Yanks past Haiti. Honduras should take care of Grenada however Sharlie Joseph will have plenty of fans in the stands. Gillette is the home of his Revolution team so he will be very comfortable playing there. Will Grenada be this years Cinderella story!
I see USA with the edge since they will have home field advantage. Honduras will take the runner up spot relying on their experience. Either Haiti or Grenada may go through if the can get a point against the big boys and beat the other in the crucial 2nd game in Washington D.C. Grenada did not score much in the Caribbean Cup but relied on a stout defense. Haiti problem was that they did not play tagether throughout the Caribbean Cup until the final round. Haiti just do not have enough of their federation backing them. Their fans are great though and hopefully they can put on a nice showing.
USA They will be playing in their 10th Gold Cup in a row.. The Yanks have never lost a group stage match in the Gold Cup. Their last Gold Cup loss was a 2:1 defeat to Brazil in 2003 semi-finals in Miami Orange Bowl. They have the best Gold Cup record with 33 wins and 5 loses and 1 tie. They have won 3 of the last 4 Gold Cups. They are the host and the defending Champions. They are under the direction of Bob Bradley.
They have a very successful Confederations Cup in South Africa and now have to get ready to play the bi-annual Gold Cup. There will only be a few holdovers from that team. This will be mostly a team Bradley wants to evaluate for the World cup 2010. They Yanks need help on the left flank and left Defense. They also want more Forward depth. Bradley wants to evaluate who he can help him starting or the valuable backup spots.
The roster is a split between MLS players and European 2nd tier teams. Their main weakness the team has is this group has never played together. They will have to find cohesion with in the first 3 games or they will be bounced quickly in the knockout round.
Look for Freddy Adu and his great dribbling and attacking skills in the middle. Stuart Holden (Houston) has been given the 10 spot in Houston when they Dynamo let De Rosario go to Toronto FC. This is impressive since Holden is only 23 and possesses veteran skills and a good work rate. They will try to feed the giant at 6-3 Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas) as a target forward. He will be along side the bulldog Charlie Davies the Confederations Cup hero. The left midfield spot will have 2 youngsters battling for Bradley attention in Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew) and Colin Clark (Colorado).
The back line will have a number of ex MLS’er who have moved on to European tier 2 leagues and are trying to make a name for themselves. They are the reigning champs and will play on their home pitch. The defense has to stiffen and the youngsters and veterans have to blend to win this tournament. They are the favorite in this group even with the B team starting. They are playing on their home pitch.
The Dark Horse
Honduras They will be making their 9th Gold Cup. This is their 4th Gold Cup in a row. They are one of 4 qualifiers from the Central America by coming in 3rd in UNCAF Cup in Honduras. They only missed one Gold Cup in 2002. They reached the quarter finals in 2007 and the Semi-finals in 2005. Their best performance was Gold Cup in 1991. They reached the finals in the inaugural event losing in a shootout to the host (USA) at LA Memorial Coliseum
Honduras national team coach is Columbian Reinaldo Rueda. Their Captain is Carlo Costly (GKS Belchatow-Poland) who is big and powerful. Costly will pair with Walter Pery Martínez and he plays for Deportivo Alves-Spain. Kansas City Wizards midfielder Roger Espinoza (KC Wizards-USA) and Luis Ramos Spartus are the only other foreign players on this roster. The rest come from 4 main teams in Honduras (Marathon-6, Real Espana-5, Motagua-4 and Olimpia-4.
Honduras only warm up game is a match against Panama Sunday June 28th which they won 2:0. The game will be in Raleigh, North Carolina. This venue will help both teams get ready for the venues in the Gold Cup. Honduras almost beat the USA team earlier this year and that was against the Yanks top team. This USA team is the 2nd stringers who have not played together. They get the dark horse spot since the Honduras national program has come a long way in recent times.
The Hopefuls (Haiti – Grenada)
Haiti Are back for their second straight and 4th overall Gold Cup. Les Grenadiers is their nickname. They are one of 4 qualifiers from the Caribbean region. They won the Caribbean Cup in 2007 in Trinidad and Tobago against the host in Port of Spain. Their best Gold Cup performance was making the quarter finals in 2002. They are led by Jairo Rios a Columbian. Haiti best performance was in 2002 when they made it to the knockout round. Haitians want to regain the stature they had when they participated in the 1974 World Cup. They luckily got to this Gold Cup when Cuba withdrew and they won the coin flip against Trinidad and Tobago. They are tall, fast and hard charging. They are individually talented but lack the team tactical ability other teams have. They only go through if they beat Grenada and get a point from the Yanks or Honduras....this is a tall task....but so was qualifying for the 1974 World Cup.
The Spice Boy will be playing in their first ever Gold Cup. They qualified as one of 4 Caribbean regions slots. They came in second in the 2009 Caribbean Cup. They lost to the host Jamaica 2:0. Both goals were scored on penalty kicks. They will be the smallest country ever to participate in the Gold Cup. They will be wearing bright green or yellow shirts with red socks. Noris Wilson is the coach and he is from Grenada. They are looking to upset the hierarchy of CONCACAF powers. Grenada did not score that many goals in the Caribbean cup and they play a very stout defensive style. They will have Sharlie Joseph (Revolutions-USA). Joseph has been called the best holding midfielder in MLS for a number of years. His versatility allowed the coach to move his to at position. He is the leading scorer for the rev this year. He will be a clog in the middle for Grenada and will feed to potent Jason Roberts (Blackburn Rovers-Eng). These players will help the Grenada attack greatly.
Prediction 1 USA, 2 Honduras, 3 Haiti, 4 Grenada
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica
They are presently playing their best soccer right now in CONCACAF. They sit atop the Hexagon standing with a 4-0-1 record with 12 points. They have beaten the USA, Honduras, El Salvador at home. They also beat Trinidad and Tobago in the only away victory at this stage. They also have allowed the fewest goals (5) of the 6 remaining Hexagon teams. The Tico’s are clicking on all cylinders and Kenton is not taking his foot off the gas. He has brought his senior team and look to take their first Gold Cup.
Players to watch for are Saprissa’s Walter Centeno. He is a cagy veteran who can control the pace of the game in the middle. Celso Borges (Club Fredrikstad-NOR) will help Centreno with his quick attacks up the middle. He is deadly around the goal area scoring 5 goals in the last 2 qualifing wounds. They will feed strikers Andy Furtado (Marathon-Hon) and Alvaro Saborio of Sion - Switzerland. They will be the favorite to win this group since this team has the experience, depth and cohesion from playing together so long.
Jamaica The Reggae Boyz will be playing in their 7th Gold Cup. They qualified by winning the 2009 Caribbean Cup 2:0 against Grenada in Kingston Jamaica. This brings their Caribbean Championships to 4. They have made the knockout round 4 out of 6 times they participated in the Gold Cup. The Reggae Boyz best performance was reaching the semi-finals on 2 occasions (1993, 1998). They had a very memorable 0:0 tie with Brazil in 1998 Gold Cup group play game.
The Reggae Boyz and fans are dreadfully disappointed they are not participating in the Final Hexagon stage. They registered 3 victories in their last 3 semi-final games beating Honduras, Mexico and Canada. They tied Mexico for second place and were edged out on goal differential. They have to wait another 4 years for the next World Cup cycle. Luckily they have the Gold Cup to look forward to. They have proven they are the best of the Caribbean in 2009 by winning the Caribbean Cup and want to prove they belong with the elite of CONCACAF. They are the only Caribbean representative in this group and will be looking to prove themselves.
Look for Omar Cummings FW who is on a tear for the Colorado Rapids. He is fast and powerful and the rugged MLS defenses can not stop him. FW -Luton Shelton (Valerenga-Nor)already has 27 goals for the senior team with only 43 appearances. Jamaica also has Ricardo Fuller (Stoke City-Eng) and Marlon King (Wigan Athletic-Eng) up front to complete the most accomplished and deepest FW positions in the Tournament. These potent forwards will be feed from Jeraine Johnson (Shefeild Wednesday-ENG), Jamal Campbell-Ryce (Barnsley-ENG), Demar Phillips (Aalesunds-NOR). The Defense will be anchored by Ricardo Gardner (Bolton Wanders-Eng) who should have over 100 caps after the tournament is complete. Guarding the net will be Donovan Ricketts (LA-Galaxy-USA0 who presently is the best goalie in MSL this year. This team is loaded with international players who play at the top levels in Europe. They are bringing a very experienced players and if they can find some cohesion and play a little defense they will go deep in this tournament.
The Wild Card
Canada The Canucks are making their 9th appearance in the Gold Cup. This will be their 6th Gold Cup in a row. They claimed their first ever international tournament in 2000 winning the Gold Cup. They beat a very talented Colombia 2:0 in LA California. They are the only other CONCACAF team to win the Gold Cup besides (USA and Mexico). They reached the semi-finals in 2007 event losing to eventual Champion USA 2:1. They are lead by Coach Stephen Hart.
The big new out of Canada is Dwane DeRosario decision not to play in the Gold Cup. The decision is understandable since Canada will not be playing in the 2010 World Cup. The national team has to get ready for 2014. DeRosario will not be involved in that campaign. Also Toronto TC is struggling in the crucial part of MLS right now. Toronto TC also has to get ready for the Champions league.
Canada will have Gold Cup 2007 MVP Juan De Guzman of Deportivo La Coruna (ESP) will patrolling the Middle. He may be paired up with Will Johnson of Real Salt Lake – USA. Johnson is a versatile and can play the AT position. They will feed Ali Gerba MK Dons (Eng) up front. Gerba was their best offense in World Cup Qualifying and they will rely on him. Also look for 22 year old Simeon Jackson (Gillingham-ENG). “Jackson has shined all season for the club, and ended the season as the team's leading scorer with twenty goals”  Their back line will be anchored by their captain Paul Stalteri. Stalteri plays along side Michael Bradley in Germany for Borussia Monchengladbach (GER). The rest of the team is made up of players playing in MLS and scattered through out Europe.
They will be a formidable club if De Guzman can find some space in the middle and the young players come of age. They play a well organized defense scheme. They are all very big and play a very physical game. Spirits are very low right now in Canada after crashing out of World Cup Qualifying semi-final round. This Gold Cup can in a good time for many Canuck fans. They believe they are capable of regaining the magic of 2000 and feel they have something to prove to themselves and to the rest of CONCACAF. They played a great tournament in 2007 beating Costa Rica 2:1 and Haiti 2:0 in group play. They then dominated Guatemala 3:0 in the knockout round. Then in the semi-final they played a very even match against the Yanks. They were robbed on a bad call to tie the game at the end of regulation. This call will compare to the “Hand of God” with in CONCACAF as one of the most horrendous non-calls ever. The Canucks play well in the States and if Staleri can organize the defense it will be hard to score on them.
Mexican Carlos de los Cobos took over as head coach in 2006. The El Salvador national team has drastically improved. The surprised Central American Champion Panama by knocking them out in World Cup Qualifying. Then they surprised pundits again by getting by Haiti and Suriname in the semi-finals and making the Final stage. Many others, like me, thought that El Salvador would just be cannon fodder in the final round. They played the Yanks in March and the Yanks were lucky to get a 2:2 tie at the end of the game. The played the tightest game of any team at Saprissa stadium only losing 1:0 to the Tico’s. This team is brimming with confidence after the recent 2-1 victory over Mexico in San Salvador. Their team is playing extremely well and wants the team firing on all cylinders going into the 2nd half of World Cup Qualifying.
They will be bringing their senior team to the Gold Cup and do not want to lose their edge. Look for Christian Castillo and Cyprus based Eliseo Quintanilla with their clean sharp passes in the middle. They will try to spring senior Rudis Corales and the ultra quick Rodolfo Zelaya (Mexico Club Leon) up front. The team and fans now believe they can beat anyone in CONCACAF with their recent World Cup Qualifying games. They will be bringing one of their strongest teams to the Gold Cup. They just have to learn how to win outside of Cuscatalon Stadium.
The Group Group A will feature a team from each of the 3 regions in CONCACAF. There will be 2 Central American (Costa Rica & El Salvador) teams battling a North American representative (Canada) and the Caribbean Champion (Jamaica). This will be the most competitive group of the 3 groups. Costa Rica may be the favorite the other nations will be looking to prove themselves. Every team and their fans believe that their national team can win this group.
This is the 6th time the Canada and Costa Rica have been placed in the same Gold Cup group. This game has turned into a great rivalry between these 2 nations. Canada beat them 2:1 in the last Gold Cup so the Tico’s will be ready for them this year.
Jamaica opens against Canada and after a 3:0 drubbing of the Canucks in Kingston. The Canucks will not overlook the Reggae Boyz in the first game. Whoever wins this game will gain much needed confidence going forward. I give the edge to the Reggae Boyz here. El Salvador opens against Costa Rica and they will want to establish a tone before the Final Hex game in San Salvador. This will be a very physical game. El Salvador is tired of playing second fiddle to the Ticos and this will be their best chance to rectify this.
I believe Costa Rica is playing their best ball and should emerge the top seed here. Jamaica wants to exert its influence beyond the Caribbean and will be going all out for this Championship. They have the talent to go deep in this Gold Cup. Canada will be playing many youngsters however they play well in the States. El Salvador has gained tremendous confidence and could be the surprise. Los Cuscatlecos will be hoping to get points to make quarterfinals.