Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Disappointment in the big Caribbean Nations
The big disappointment for me so far in the Caribbean Cup is the elimination of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. These big populous nations of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have 3.97 Million people and 10.090 Million respectively. I am very displeased since neither one of these countries will participant in the Gold Cup. If there is any chance that the Gold Cup will expand to 16 nations the big populous nations like these 2 have to produce quality teams.
The only way CONCACAF officials will expand is if countries have fan support. Warner will not expand just for the sake of expansion. It would lessen the tournament if Barbados - Antigua & Barbuda with Canada played Grenada as a double header and only 3,000 fans showed at a 60,000 stadium. Presently Mexico carries the Gold Cup with attendance. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the USA are a distant second in fan support. Then there is a huge drop off. Costa Rica, Panama, Haiti, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica are good teams but only a fraction of the fan support of the other nations.
Since these big Caribbean Populous nations have been knocked out Warner is glad he did not expand the Gold Cup to 16 teams this year. Warner and Gold Cup officials want a packed house to support them team. Officials want to Gold Cup to match the South American Cup. In order to do that these big populous nations of Dominican Republic 10 million, Haiti – 10 Million, Puerto Rico 3.9 million have to produce quality teams. Not only do they have to have quality team they also have to be one of the best 8 in the Caribbean. I believe if expansion comes the Caribbean has to get these big nations to make it to the final 8 year in and year out.
Of the final 8 Caribbean nations in the Caribbean Cup, only 2 nations (Jamaica, Cuba) have more than 1 Million of population. All the other participants have less than a million population. Some of these smaller island nations may have good teams but no one will watch them. They do not have a support club that travels with the team, they do not have fans dressing up in the nations colors and waving the nations flag. All of this pomp and pageantry adds to the Gold Cup just as it adds to the World Cup. There are just not enough fans in the states to support their nation during the Gold Cup.
I had high hopes for The Dominican Republic. Haiti usually puts out a quality team every tournament. The Dominican Republic is on the same small island in the Caribbean. Their populations are roughly the same. Why can’t the Dominican Republic field a quality team like Haiti? The Dominican Republic did not even advance to Stage 2. They were beat at home by tiny Dominica. It is hard for me to imagine how a nation (Dominican Republic) that has a population of slightly over 10 Million can lose to a nation (Dominica) that only has 72,600 people. That is more than 100 times the amount of players to draw from. The Dominican Republic should be a main player in the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic should be competing in the Final 8 every tournament based on population. The Dominican Republic has as many immigrants in the USA as many of the Central American countries. I believe they would be a tremendous asset to the Gold Cup if they could field a competitive team.
I thought that this would be the year the Dominican Republic steps into the fray of the Caribbean. The problem with this country is that not many people care for soccer. They do not care because their national team stinks. Everyone wants a winner and to have a team to be proud of. You can not be proud of your team when they lose at home to Dominica. They want a star on their team they can cheer for that is as good as or better than their opponents. The Dominican Republic has neither. After waiting 4 years for this country to succeed I was very disappointed.
I do not want to leave on a sour note about this country. Soccer is evolving very slowly. The top league is called premier division. This top tier league only has 8 teams for the 2010 season. Barcelona has bought a team Club Barcelona Atlético that plays in this Premier league. Hopefully this team can set the bar and elevate the entire league. The Dominican also has a good federation with a good web site so us fans can monitor the progress this nation makes. The best part of the league is over 90% of the players are Dominican. I guess I will have to wait another 2 years before I can judge the nation again..ugggg.
Puerto Rico (3.97 Million)
Puerto Rico has the 4th largest population of all the Caribbean. It also has one of the best economies. Puerto Rico is also one of the biggest islands in the Caribbean. Since 20087 when Colin Clake (N Ireland) took over the national team, they shot up the rankings. This fooled me since they had not had a coach since 2004. I thought Puerto Rico would be a force in the Caribbean and the Gold Cup on the level of Guadeloupe. I was wrong. Puerto Rico failed for a completely different reason. Clake also coaches the Puerto Rico Islanders. The Islanders have many of the top players on the national team. The Islanders just started the playoff just when the second round (Stage 2) of the Caribbean Cup started. The top players traveled with Clarke and the national team did not win in Stage 2. After dominating it’s opponents at home the Puerto Rico national team could not advance with a substitute coach and their B team against Grenada at home, a well organized Guadeloupe team and St Kitts in the last game. The Islanders went on to win the Champion of the USSF D-2 in the 2010. They beat the Rochester Rhino’s (#1 seed), the Vancouver Whitecaps (who will be a MLS team in 2011) and the Carolina Railhowks for the Championship.
I love national teams however you can make a case for promoting the sport by winning a Championship. Did Clarke do the right thing…time will tell. However us who like the national teams, we will have to wait another 2 teams for this nation and see how they improve. Uggggg I am not getting younger and I hate waiting.
Monday, December 27, 2010
2011 CONCACAF Gold cup 2011
Group A (Mexico’s Group)
Dallas. TX (80k)
Charlotte NC (73.7k)
Chicago, Ill (61.5k)
Group B (Canada’s group)
Carson HDC (27k)
FUI, Miami (23.5k)
Red Bull Arena, NY (25.2k)
Group C (USA’s group)
Detroit, Mi (65.5k)
RJS Tampa, Fla. (68.8k)
KC Soccer (18.5k)
New Meadowlands Stadium (82.5k)
RFK, Washington D.C (45.5k)
Reliant Stadium, Houston (71.5k)
Rose Bowl, Pasadena (91.1k)
Ok the venues are set. Pasadena is going to host the final and I would say this is an excellent pick. The last time the Gold Cup final was hosted in the Rose Bowl was 2002. My yanks beat Costa Rica in front of only 14,432. However the L.A. Coliseum has hosted 4 previous Gold Cup Title games. When Mexico was in the final (1996, 1998) there were 88k and 91k spectators making them the top 2 attendance games in the Gold Cup history. It is as much as whom you play as compared to where you play. The Gold Cup final has not been to the West Coast since 2002 and this will be a good chance.
The semi-finals will be played in Houston. The reason is because Houston did well in 2009, spectacular in the 2007 and 2005 knockout games. What do you do to a cash cow….milk it and Warner is. Houston's reliant stadium has been just that...reliable to bring in the big soccer crowds.
The quarter finals games I have to say are also good picks. Washington D.C and NY. NY put on a fine performance hosting the Final last year. So much so that Warner wants to get Mexico back to the Big Apple where there are numerous Mexican fans will pack New Meadowland Stadium again. Watch Group A #1 will play Group B#2. Mexico should win group A to male sure they get back to NY.
Washington D.C is also a good pick since it will be played in the nation’s capitol and more than likely will have the yanks play there. RFK capacity is 45, 500 which is very obtainable if the yanks make the knock out phase. Since these games will be a double headers I envision a close to capacity crowd in D.C. The playing field is natural grass in D.C.
Now getting to the group venues.
Group A will be Mexico’s group. This group has the 3 huge capacity stadiums. There were 82k spectators to watch Mexico in Dallas in 2009. Cash cows are meant to be milked…Mexico goes back to Dallas. Dallas was about 4 times the capacity of all the other group games in the last event. Charlotte, NC is a big surprise to me. SUM marketing usually promotes MLS teams and their cities. Charlotte does not have a MLS team or past experience hosting Gold Cup games. I believe Mexican supporters will travel here, the question is how many will show in charlotte….hopefully they will be playing a quality opponent. Chicago also has many Mexican and Central American immigrants that support soccer in that city. i will always remember Honduras fans far out numbering USA fans in the all important World Cup Qualifying game. Blue Shirts were everywhere. Chicago hosted the final there with great success in 2007. Chicago the #3 market again gets a Gold Cup game. So group A gets 2 proven cities and one new one to bring new excitement.
Group B is Canada’s group. I am assigning a “north” (USA, Mexico, and Canada) North American to each group. I believe CONCACAF officials will do this to give each group a good mix. The Caribbean Cup and Central Cup would have just been played so no one wants to see the same opponents again. This group has the smallest venues and officials want to have capacity crowds. Since the Home Depot Center and Red Bull arena are the biggest soccer specific stadiums is a good reason. These newer sss are also in the #1 and #2 markets in the states. They should get close to a capacity crowd while hosting at 2 MLS clubs. This will not only benefit the clubs but MLS in general to show off 2 of their nicer stadiums. Lastly, LA and NY City have great soccer fans who will no doubt come out to these venues even without USA or Mexico.
Miami has been the only city to host games, 8 consecutive tournaments. Thats right 8 in a row. No other city has the combination of Central American and Caribbean immigrants that Miami does. It is unique. FUI stadium also is a new venue with capacity of 23.5k which is perfect for this group. It is cozy.
Group C is the yanks group. In 2009 the yanks has 2 good attended games and one bad group game attendance wise. Well there are 2 big capacity stadiums and one small one (KC). Also US soccer likes to move the national team around the country and these venues indicate that. Detroit, Tampa and Kansas City will all be new to the national team and new to theGold Cup. All of these venues are surprises to me. Detroit is the big union car making city which should back the yanks in Detroit. The question is how many will show in Detroit with it's terrible economy. Tampa has FC Tampa Bay plays in the second tier of US soccer. Could MLS and SUM be testing the waters for a return of a MLS team in Florida? Is SUM marketing just looking for another City like Miami for consistent fans. Kansas City just finished the newest soccer specific stadium KC Soccer Stadium at a cost of $160 Million. This is a beauty of a stadium and MLS wants to show off their new stadiums. This game will probable be against a Caribbean nation who does not have a big following. (Remember USA v Grendada w/ only 15k @ Seattle). Also Sam’s Army has been lacking in their desire to attend non competitive games. This stadium should bring in the fans just as Dallas did in it inaugural event. Even though it will be under 20k I envision a capacity, racous crowd here.
The question I have is what about marketing the new MLS franchises. Portland, Vancouver and Montreal all were passed over. Well Portland plays in a baseball field and that would be an eye sore. Vancouver will play in BC Palace but the $450 Million renovations w/ retractable roof will not be ready until after Gold Cup. Montreal has the new but very small Saputo Stadium at 13,000. This is just too small to host a Gold Cup game and does not have natural grass. New England has proven adequate attendance, has a MLS team (Revs), the 6th largest TV market,hosted 4 years in a row and was also passed over. Philly another big city, with a new MLS club in Philly Union was passed over but they had the USA national team play there in 2010 and it was not sold out.
In all I have to say this looks like a pretty good tournament with the cities and venues. The nations will travel all over the country in the group games. Then the knockout rounds will start at the East coast, move to Houston that has been a great City that supports soccer. The Gold Cup will end in the Rose Bowl on the West Coast. This will make it a national event. LA use to be the Gold Cups bread and butter in the first 5 title games held in the USA. I am sure the Rose Bowl will put on a good show and make this the highest attended Gold Cup to date held in the USA.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador as repeat participants. It will be a big surprise if Nicaragua can qualify again. I believe Guatemala will be the new Central American participant.
In total there will only be 2 new nations (Cuba, Guatemala) if the Central American Cup play out with the favorites winning.