Thursday, March 31, 2011

Newer Stadiums in Central America

OK...just a little review on CONCACAF and the newer stadiums in each country. I would have to say that the USA is having the most rapid growth in the sport. MLS will be adding Livestrong Stadium. This is multimillion dollar stadium for the local MLS team in Kansas City. The capacity is only 18,500 however this will make for a nice intimate setting for the local team. Rommell Stadium was refurbished for about $19 Million. I think this was a bad idea. I believe the $ should have been passed to the multiple soccer teams throughout Panama. I think this would have been a better use of $. Why...well because this stadium does not fill to capacity. Panama even hosted the CEntral American Cup and no game was a sellout. The capacity was not even used for this. I think the only tike it will be a sellout is WCQ. That is not enough. However it is a beautiful stadium that Panamians can be proud of. .. . . . . This next pic is the National Stadium in Managua, Nicaragua. Land was donated from the University and FIFA goals project financed it. Nicaragua is slowely growing the sport and this stadium in the Nations Capitol will be nice for them. The stands are built into the hill sice w/ no stands on the other side. This will not be an intimidating place to play, but since it is in the Capitol we may see many fans here. Time will tell. . . . . .Tico Stadium...Well this is the show piece of all soccer stadiums in Central America. China built it for them. Why...well Costa Rica has stopped supporting Taiwan for an independent country....go figure. I used to be so proud of the Tico's.....Now I am just disappointed in their political leadership. I will be anxiuos to see how well the Tico's play here in this facility. Will it be as intimidating as their last one. TICO's .. .. .. .... ... ... ... ... ... Costa Rica can now boast that they have the best stadium in the region. However the national team has fallen on hard times (comparing to past Tico teams).. . . . . .. .

This is the only picture of fans on the Belize web site. My previous post shows the stadium. This was just completed in 2010. This is great for this nation to have a home pitch they can host international games. This next picture is of seating of the Belize National stadium. The stadiums capacity is about 5,000 and they would do well to fill that. They have never had seating here, since they have really never had a national soccer field. Like I stated earlier, the financing came from FIFA goal project to provide teaching, coaching, two soccer feilds and housing for players. The stadium is located in Belmopan. The pitches have been just completed in 2010.

If you have any "good" pictures fo Central American Stadiums or know of any new construction please post them here...


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Belize and Nicaragua

I like comparing the Central American Countries. They are all roughly the same size as opposed to the Caribbean nations. The Central American countries are usually ranked higher than most Caribbean countries. This new CONCACAF qualification for the World Cup has my mind racing. I have been grouping nations in 4 teams groups and looking for the nations that could be the big surprise.
Belize and Nicaragua are 2 countries that have underperformed compared to the fellow Central American counterparts. This brings me to the next World Cup qualification process. The biggest question I have is will each of these counties host games in their home Countries.

Nicaragua played the Netherlands Antilles in a home and away series in the last World Cup Qualifying campaign. Nicaragua played their home game at Estadio Cacique Diriangen, in Diramba Nicaragua. This stadium packed 7,000 spectators in to see the national team play. Diriangen F.C is the power house in Nicaragua. Diriangen F.C has won a record 26 Championships. The next closest team is Real Esteli with only 9 Championships. Previously this was the biggest and best stadium Nicaragua had to offer. Nicaragua has recently completed a new National Stadium in the Capitol of Managua. The stadium will be installing lights at a cost of over $500,000 this year. Finally this country that has been trailing the other teams in Central America will have a real boost playing in front of their home fans in a stadium they can be proud of. Nicaragua has just hired Brazilian Charles Pair de Oliveira as the third foreign coach in addition to the Spanish team led by Enrique Fill Leon. Olivera has 2 main objectives. One is to get the national team ready for the proposed 4 team groups in round 1 of qualifying. Second goal is to help improve all levels of Nicaraguan soccer through teaching and classes. These two big aspects will make Nicaragua a nation to watch in the next qualification campaign.

Belize is a nation much harder to judge. The reason is the lack of information the Federation provides. The Belize web site is pathetic with quality information. The last information I have on their stadium is the goal projects that date back to 2009. The goal project was completed and the first international game was against vs Trinidad and Tobago 10th September, 2010. The game was a 0:0 tie in Belmopan but I have no information about the attendance. This did not tell me however the big question. Does Belize have a FIFA qualified stadium to host World Cup Qualifying games? I have to assume if FIFA goal project funded the project the pitch has to be qualified. This is great news for Belize if they can host 3 World Cup Qualifying games on home soil.

This is great news not only in each country but also Central America. These 2 nations are raising the level of play and the federations are committed not to fall too far behind the other Central American Countries. I would have to say Nicaragua is a few steps ahead of Belize. However this does not matter if they meet on the pitch. In the last Central American Cup both nations lost to Panama and El Salvador. Then the grudge match between the two nations started. Neither nation wants to be the “worst” team in the region. The game ended in a 1:1 tie. Since these national teams do not have the resources to play very much we have to go back to the 2009 Central American Cup for their previous battle. This just happened to be another 1:1 tie. We will have to watch each of these nations. Let the other Central American Nations take note. Both Nicaragua and Belize do not want to be left in the dust and they will be playing on their home pitch to give them the edge they never had.
Belize is presently in a home and away friendly games with the Cayman Islands. They played today, however checking the Belize web site, UNCAF web site and FIFA web site I still have not result. I find this lack of information maddening.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CONCACAF U-20 Championship; Guatemala

CONCACAF Under-20 Championship will start this Monday in Guatemala. This years edition has expanded from 8 nations to 12 nations. This is good news since more national teams can play and develop their young teams. There will be 12 nations broken up into 4 groups of 3 teams. So every game is important. Only the winners of each group will hake the knockout round. The final 4 nations left will represent CONCACAF in the FIFA World Cup. The FIFA World Cup will take place later this summer in Columbia. This gives the Central American teams a real desire to play so close to home. This will give each nation something to shoot for besides the Championship.

The games will take place in two stadiums located in Guatemala City. Estadio Meteo Flores (Municipal) and Estadio Cementos Progresso (Communicationes). Estadio Meteo Flores that holds 30,000 will host Group A (Guatemala, Honduras and Jamaica) and Group B (USA, Panama and Suriname). While the smaller Stadium Progresso hold 18,000 spectators. These are the 2 of the nicest stadiums in Guatemala. Guatemala has recently hosted the Womans U-20 Championship as a kind of trial run for this tournament. That tournament only had 8 teams playing in Estadio Cementos Progresso.

Estadio Flores (30,000)
Group A Guatemala did not have to qualify so it is hard to tell how good they will be. However playing at home I will say they are the slight favorites. Honduras won it’s Central American Group of El Salvador and Belize. They have a great rivaly with Guatemala. Jamaica pounded it’s Caribbean opponents have a + 20 goal differential. They are the Champs of the Caribbean and want to advance to Columbia. This s the most balanced group since any team can win without a big surprise.

Group B has the giant USA. They are the favorites since they have had their team practicing longer than any other team. Panama will want desperatly to advance to the World Cup. This World Cup is in their neighbor Country of Columbia.

Estadio Cementos Progresso
The other 2 group will play at the smaller Estadio Cementos Progreso. This stadium hold 18,000 but it is a great Central American Stadium. The stadium recently has renovations and it has a nice grass pitch.

Group C
Will have (Canada, Costa Rica and Guadeloupe) It seems the youth teams are the same senior teams that make the Gold Cup. I say the toss up between Canada and Costa Rica. Costa Rica is the reigning Championship and will not want to relinquish this status in the group stage. Canada believe their youth teams have advanced as fast and as far as thier senior team. This will be another dog fight.

Group D will feature (Mexico, Cuba and T&T). The question is how much Mexico will win bye.

I see USA and Mexico go to the FIFA World Cup. The question is who will the other 2 be. Costa Rica vs Canada winner goes and Jamaica v Honduras winner. Yes I am contradicting myself since I said Guatemala is the favorite of the group.

The good news is that a CONCACAF tournament is hosted in a country besides the USA. This will hopefully make the sport more attractive in Central America. Hosting anything is great for your country since all the nations will be focused on their team at this time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Jamaica vs Venezuela

The Jamaican national team is getting ready for the Gold Cup. They are taking this tournament seriously. The tournament will get them ready for World Cup qualification. The Gold cup will also put the team, the nation and Jamaican soccer in the spot light.

To get ready the Reggae Boyz are playing good competition. They will take on Venezuela on the island of Jamaica. There will be a number of MLS players on the roster to face the South American Rival nation. Heading this list is FW Omar Cummings who plays for the Colorado Rapids. There will be 4 other MLS players on the team to face Venezuela. Their coach Theodore Whitmore is getting his senior side together to instill some continuity before the Gold Cup starts.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dates for the New Proposed CONCACAF WCQ

Ok here are the new proposed dates for the “New” CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. There is a preliminary round with a few dates to reduce the field to 30. The top 6 nations get a bye. The top nations that get this lucky bye are (USA, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Cuba). These top 6 nations go directly to the Second round of qualifying that starts in 2012. This is the semi-final round that always seems to have the "group of death". The most interesting part of the proposal is the First round.

The first round now has 24 nations participating. All these nations will be placed in 6 groups of 4. These smaller countries will get a chance to play many more games than they ever had before. This new proposal will also bring back the HEX. This is good for the USA vs Mexico rivalry game and good for the region to have such popular World Wide appealing game.

2011 dates
The first round has 6 dates in 2011. There will be 6 groups of 4 nations that will play a home and away series. CONCACAF officials are changing the format to benefit the smaller Caribbean nations. These nations will now have an opportunity to host a World Cup qualifying game. Not just one game but host 3 home games and play a total of 6 World Cup qualifying games. These countries will ahve a chance to capture their nations attention throughout the 2011 year. These countries could be in striking distance if they can get a result on the road. They could also benefit from an upset of the favorite of the group. Some countries could benefit greatly from this experience. WCQ is the best way to bring attention to the sport.

Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Suriname and Puerto Rico are some of the nations that could benefit from this experience. All of these countries are trying to develop the sport and this would be great attention to the national team and their domestic leagues. Nicaragua has been building a national Stadium in Managua to host the national team. Playing 3 World Cup qualifying matches here would get the whole countries attention. Pueto Rico has the Islanders who won the D-2 Championship in the USa last year. Many Puertricans play for bothe the national team and the Islanders. This would be great if they beat Panama on the island. The excitement that it would bring not only to Puerto Rico but also to the other 3 nations in the group.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

CONCACAF got WCQ right this time

This is a new hybrid CONCACAF qualifying format compared to the 2010 qualifying. The 2010 second round had the top 6 teams participating. This made for unexciting games. 2010 had the top 24 nations play a home and away series to cut the field to 12. This did not develop the sport at all. The big nations walloped the other smaller Caribbean nations. Then some good teams were knocked out in one home and away series. Eg Panama losing 2-3 aggregate to El Salvador. Puerto Rico testing Honduras 6-2 aggregate. Other aggregate scores were non competitive nor exciting. USA 9-0 Barbados, Mexico 9-0 Belize, Jamaica 13-0 Bahamas, Guatemala 9-1 Saint Lucia were a waste of time for both nations.

The 2014 format has the top 6 nations getting a bye. I love this idea. Now 24 nations are broken up into 6 groups of 4 nations. These groups will be much more competitive and exciting. Now 24 nations will each play 6 home and away series. So each nation will have 3 home games and 3 away. This may be the first time some nations ever host WCQ. This is what will develop the sport throughout CONCACAF.

I routinely criticize CONCACAF officials for their laciness but they got it right this time. World Cup Qualifying will touch each country and it will not be just one home and away series. IT will be a home and away series in a group of 4. Even if some nations do not make the Semi-final grouping. They will be able to talk about the 6 games they playing in the round of qualifying for years. They can see where the finally rank in each group and look forward to the next WCQ to see if they can advance from their last qualifying.

My hope is that each nation does host even if their stadium is not FIFA qualified. Belize could not host Mexico last time and had to play thier home game in Houston Reliant. This was very much considered a home game for Mexico. IT would be great for nations like Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Guyana wo host multiple WQC games for their fans.

The Stadium to the right on a picture of the new National Stadium in Managua, Nicaragua. Guyana has a field that was dedicated to them.

CONCACAF qualifying format

Ok CONCACAF qualifying system is in place. It is easier to understand if I just group the teams based on ranking today. The top team in each group will advance. The top ranked team is the first team in each group. Therefore the top team is the favorite in this home and away qualifying.

The top team in each group will go to the very controversial Semi-final grouping. As we all know. The final 12 semi-final round last year had (Mexico, Canada, Jamaica and Honduras) while a very weak group of (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Suriname and Haiti) was another group. The 2006 qualifying was much more uneven. Mexico was group with 3 Caribbean nations (Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and Grenadines and St Kitts and Nevis). Hopefully when the nations get ranked again it will be more even of talent.

1. First round. 6 groups of 4 teams. This round would include the 5 qualifiers from the preliminary round plus teams ranked 7–25. The top team in each group would advance to the next stage.
2. Semifinal Round. 3 groups of 4. Teams ranked 1–6 would face off against the 6 group winners from the previous round. The top two in each group would advance. (As we know this will be controversial-hopefully CONCACAF wil get it right)
3. Final Round. This is the famous "HEX". Finally Mexico and the USA will play each other. The top two teams in each group from the semifinal round compete in one group of 6. The top three teams would advance to the world cup, while the 4th place team would advance to an intercontinental playoff.

First round example
6 groups of 4 teams

Group A
Puerto Rico
Turks and Caicos

Group B
St Lucia

Group C
El Salvador
St Kitts and Nevis
British Virgin Islands

Group D
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Dominican Republic

Group E
Trinidad and Tobago
Cayman Islands

Group F
Antigua & Barbuda

Just some quick thoughts to my groupings so far. Group A Panama is a very good team that I want to get make it to the Semis. Both the the Dominica and Puerto Rico will test them. I have been looking forward to see Colin Clarke lead Puerto Rico with a full strength team. To bad it will be against Panama.

Group B Canada and Guatemala should not be grouped togather. This would be a shame. Both are capable of not only making the Semi-final but also the HEX. I hope they are not grouped together.

Group C El Salvador fans will celebrate before the qualifying begins if the ranking stay the same. I can not see any of these Caribbeans beating El Salvador in Cuscatalan Stadium.

Group D Will be a fight between the battle tested Grenada and the South American upstart Suriname (last quilifying Semi-finalist). St V has been know as the giant killers in the Caribbean Cup. Finally we will see how the huge populous nation of Dominican Republic has progressed. I think they are still 3-4 year away from being a competator but WCQ is just the place to launch the advancement of the sport here. It would be fun for me to see the Dominican Republic advance here. The good news is that it will bequite possible for any one here to advance.

Group E For some reason T&T seems to always gets favorable grouping and ranking...all the time!?! Guyana will not be antimidated and has many Guyanese playing in the T&T pro league. This would be a great rivalry to watch. Why do I feel T& T will somehow benefit from a favorable call!

Group F has Haiti as the highest ranked team. This could be the upset group. Haiti is still realing for their earth quake. The federation has no $ to prepare the team. Antigua and Barbuda will look to take the spot. They have a pro team in teh USA Division 2 league. Nicaragua has been building slowely and this qualifying tournament could be the nations launching pad to develope the sport in Nicaragua. Nicaragua wants to compete with Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras in Central America. This group is easier that the Central American Cup. Nicaragua is committed to making soccer the number 1 sport in the country.

Some goups are much more exciting for me than others. But the best stories for each country will come from this round. I can hardly wait.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The image of corruption

OK...are we getting somewhere. We all hear about corruption in sports. Soccer has to be the most corrupt sport there is. even FIFA's World Cup voting is a disgrace. Well once the courts get involved the truth becomes a little clearer.

1 Million can not be accounted for. This is a disgrace. Jack were is this money. It was not yours.

Now the TTFF books have to be opened. This will be fun. It will be like opening the books of the Mafia. Funds...large ammounts like 1 Million are just unaccounted for. This is rediculous.

Why doesn't an American run for the CONCACAF head post. That way the American press can question every move, every expense and every decision. Deals will not be done behind closed doors like they are now. Maybe we could realize how much money the Gold Cup makes. For example if there are 500,000 spectators and tickets average $30-40 dollars then the event is grossing roughly $15,000,000. The American press could probe how much expense hosting teams, food, travel excetera. Lets say 5 million in expenses and that is generous. Now the fun part...Gold Cup makes a profit of say $10 Million at the gate. The real money comes in the TV contract which is Fox, Univision and maybe a 3rd Spanish speaking channel.

If you really want to promote interest, open the books. Lets discuss where the expenses go. Lets see who is makeing Millions behind the closed doors. Lets debate which country gets funding...and it will not be a 1 Million to a few countried it should be signifigantly more.

LEt see if Warner opens these books and what happens to his image...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

MLS new playoff format

When you start a business you usually copy another business so you can make a profit also. MLS however did not copy EPL and have no playoff. They followed NLF instead. The NFL is the premier league in the world that makes money. MLS is young in the business. MLS has increased the playoff teams by 2 for a total of 10 teams.

Last year 8 teams made the playoffs. However 6 of those teams were from the Western Conference. Near the end of the season many fans knew their teams were not going to make the playoffs. Increasing the field by 2 will also have more teams "still alive near the end of the year.

The Top team in each group gets the break of playing the winer of the wide card game. This at least is an advantage over the 2nd and 3rd place finishers.

Vancouver White Caps will be the new team in the league. There will be 2 divisions again each have 9 teams. Top 3 from each division qualify and then the next best 4.

Costa Rica unveils new jewel

This is Costa Rica new stadium. They now have the best national Stadium in Central America.
Costa Rica has not hosted a Central American Cup since 1999. That is 12 years ago. They are in line to host the 2013 unless Nicaragua is gearing up to host their first ever Cup. Time will tell which country will host but this is good news for Costa Rica and the Central American region.

Costa Rica has had one of the top national teams in the region for over a decade. They have also have had one of the best professional league in the region. Costa Rica sets the mark for others.

Before the Ticos host any regional event this stadium will be tested for the upcoming World Cup qualifying that will take place in June 2012. The Tico's will not want to miss out on a World Cup in their neighboring country of Brazil. Let the region be warned....the Tico's will be back and be playing in a state of the art stadium.
Just for a little fun here is how I rank the national stadiums

  1. Costa Rica national Stadium
  2. Pamama Rommell
  3. Hondura's Estatio Olimpico Metropolitan
  4. Guatemala's Estadio Mateo Flores
  5. El Salvadors' Cuscatlan
  6. Nicaragua's National Stadium in Nicaragua
  7. Belize Martha Jones Sports Comples but the field is not FIFA qualified.....

These stadium almost parallell the skill of the national teams..

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gold Cup 2011 Groups are set

Ok..The Groups are set. Here they are

Group A Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba

Group B Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, Grenada

Group C USA, Canada, Panama, Guadeloupe

Let me chat about Group C first

The big surprise is having Canada with the USA. Let me first say I am a bit surprised. Another surprise is that I like the groups. I thought USA would be grouped with Guatemala/ El Salvador since these 2 nations have great fan support. The Ford Field at 65k will be a challenge to fill when they play Canada. This idea might work since Canada soccer is intertwined with USA soccer. There are Marketing officials (SUM Marketing) must believe that when the Yanks play the Maple Leafs the MLS fans will support their national teams. There is a little rivalry brewing here after the 2007 called that robbed Canada of a goal against the USA. Canada will definitely want to prove their worth against the yanks. Canada has won their group the last 2 Gold Cups and will want to continue their success. They will not have any inferiority complex going against the yanks. Panama will also be a great opponent for the Yanks in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. This stadium has natural grass and is a good venue for soccer if packed. Panama will also challenge for the group winner. Panama has come a long way since 2005. Their youth teams are even showing success. Guadeloupe is the lone Caribbean nation and as predicted will play the yanks at the small Kansas City Venue. Do not over look Guadeloupe! They have made the Gold Cup 3 times in a row. They have talent and are very well organized. Their success lies with their discipline to stay in position. They are hard to break down and have talent to create on offense. This will be a good group to watch.

Group A Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba

Ok Mexico was placed in with the Big Venues. SUM marketing and CONCACAF officials also gave them a great opponent in Costa Rica. These 2 nations have quite a bitter rivalry after the 2007 and 2009 Gold Cups. Mexico knocked Costa Rica out of both tournaments. 2007 was EAT and 2009 had to come to penalties. Tico fans believe the refs have been calling unfair fouls against them. Cuba has been the most consistent Caribbean nation placing in the final 4 nations of the Caribbean Cup. They accomplished this feat 6 Caribbean Cups in a row. El Salvador will have many fans at each of these venues. They packed into the Home Depot Center in 2009 and officials hope they pack these new venues.

Group B Honduras, Jamaica, Grenada, Guatemala

This group is wide open. This group features the Central American Champs (Honduras) and the Caribbean Champions (Jamaica). They both will vie for the group winner. Both of these nations believe they can win the Championship and the attitude will start in the group stage. Honduras will use the World Cup experience as a motivating tool. Guatemala fans are already celebrating. This group might be easier on them than the Central American group they were in. (Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala). This is a great opportunity for Guatemala to attract fans. Grenada has not won a Gold Cup game however this will be their second Gold Cup in a row. Maybe Sharlie Joseph (Revolution) may join in the fun and help Grenada advance out of the group.

I have to say I like the groups. Competitive, great rivalries. I think Group B will be the most fun to watch, I am hoping for a lot of goals. They will be playing at the “best” soccer venues and all these nations will not feel overwhelmed without USA or Mexico in their group. Group C I thin will be a defensive struggle. The yanks play a 4-4-2 and rarly change formation in important games. Canada has adopted a ball control style that will chew up the clock which may result in less scoring opportunities. Panama displayed a very stingy defense in the Caribbean Cup and will continue that form here. Like I said Guadeloupe are rarely caught out of position. They are hard to break down.

Group A will have the titans (Mexico, Costa Rica ) each play El Salvador and Cuba before they face each other. That game in Chicago may be for the group winner.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gold Cup 2011 groups

The Gold Cup will announce the groups this Tuesday. The question will be who will be in what group which is difficult to guess. What is harder to determine is who will play who.

Group A plays at 3 of the biggest venues. They start at Dallas Texas, then move to Charlotte (73.7k) and finish in Chicago’s Soldiers Field (61.5k). This group will have Mexico. Why …well Warner will want to maximize revenue and there is only one nation that can fill the big stadiums in CONCACAF. That team is Mexico. Mexico filled Dallas Stadium with over 80k in the 2009 Gold Cup. Charlotte NC is a new venue to the Gold Cup however not to the Hispanic community. In March 2010 Mexico played Iceland in a meaningless game. There were over 55,000 pre-sold tickets for this game. Charlotte is proven with the Mexican national team. The last group game is in Chicago. Soldiers field was packed for the 2007 Gold Cup Final. This is also a proven lock to have a great turn out. This is clearly Mexico’s group. The question is who else will be group with them.

Group B is Canada group but because they are not from the Caribbean or Central America. Both of these regions have just finished the Caribbean Cup and the Central American Cup so officials want to give them new opponents to keep it interesting. Since Mexico has group A and the USA will have Group C the question is who goes into Group B with Canada. The next best teams in CONCACAF in MHO are Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Jamaica. Picking from these teams there is only one who has the fan support to pack the stadiums and that country is Honduras. Honduras is a good pick since Costa Rica has been group with Canada for the last 5 out of 6 Gold Cups. Honduras is not a lock but a good bet. This group starts in the very popular Home Depot Center, then travels to Miami than wraps up at Red Bull Arena in New York. Honduras fans are popular in LA and NY. Jamaica is a good bet since Miami fans are very visible in Miami. Jamaica also makes this group very competitive. Jamaica are the Caribbean Champs are and play a very entertaining style of play. Since this group have the largest MLS stadiums in HDC and Red Bull arena these will be great venues for this group.

Group C is the USA group. Why…because USA soccer likes to move the national team around the country. Detroit, Tampa and KC will all be new to the Gold Cup. Placing the yanks here should secure good crowds. Last Gold Cup the yanks had 2 good crowds when they played good competition. However when the yanks played the small Caribbean nation of Grenada only 15,387 turned off for this 4-0 shellacking. This game was played in the best MLS attendance venue Seattle’s Quest field. Sam’s army was not interested in this weaker opponent. This Gold Cup has a small stadium (KC @ 18.5k) to make sure there is a full house when the yanks play a Caribbean nation. So the question is who else to group with the yanks. If Honduras goes to group B that leaves Costa Rica and Panama as the next best opponents. However El Salvador and Guatemala have much better fans to help the yanks in the other venues. This will be a toss up. The yanks will be grouped with either El Salvador or Guatemala help with attendance. The question is which one of the Big 3 (Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras) from Central America will be group with them. It is my inclination to think Honduras will go to Group B and the yanks will get Panama since Panama was group with Mexico last Gold Cup. Panama will provide a challenger for the group. Then throw in El Sal or Guatemala for attendance. The last team will be a Caribbean nation. The other pick (el Sal or Guatemala) will help Mexico is the big venues for fan support. This leaves Cuba as a good Caribbean nation who also has fan support. Their biggest fans are in Miami but I think they will group with the yanks in group C to full the big stadiums.

So my guess to the groups are this

Group A Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Grenada

Group B Canada, Honduras, Jamaica, Guadeloupe.

Group C USA, Panama, Guatemala and Cuba

This group has a good mix up the 3 regions of CONCACAF. They also have s good distribution of good teams to keep each group competitive. Most importantly it breaks up the nations that have good fans support into different groups. Gold Cup officials want sold out venues and these group will come close to that..

Who do you want to see in each group?