Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CONCACAF Pre Olympic Tournament

Livestrong Sporting Field in KC is the newest SSS venue in the States.

March 22- April 2nd 2012

The Olympics are held every 4 years, so the CONCACAF Pre-Olympic tournament is held every 4 years. The USA has hosted 3 of the last 5 tournaments. Mexico has hosted twice. Before this the tournament was a home/away format. I am assuming the home/away got very expensive for each federation to fly their team to play. Also CONCACAF officials wanted to have a tournament to crown a champion to promote the sport. I think this was an excellent idea.

It is my belief that the tournament was granted to the USA for 2 reasons. Money and attendance. First and foremost is about money. Just like the Gold Cup has proven there is no other country in CONCACAF or the World for that matter that could get the crowds that the states does. Why you ask, because there are many CONCACAF immigrants who are scattered throughout the states. These immigrants would like non other to go out and support their home country. Last tournament was in 2008 played in the states. There was about 5,000 in the Florida Venue but there was about 15,000 at the Home Depot Center. The semi-final and final was a paltry 13,201 and final 12,663. The group venues were the Home Depot Center, in California and Raymond James Stadium in Fla. The finals were in LP Field in Nashville Tennessee.

The venues for the 2012 tournament are again the Home Depot Center and LP Field in Nashville Tennessee. The Home Depot Center has the location and is the biggest SSS in the states. The Home Depot center also is located close enough to LA to always turn out good crowds. LP Field in Tennessee was again pick and I do not know why. It is a giant American football stadium with capacity of 69,000. The crowd will only be about 13 to 17k. This is not a good venue to play.

The final will be at MLS newest Venue in Kansas City, Livestrong Sporting Park. Livestron Spoting Park is an excellent venue for this tournament semi and finals. It is a state of the art facility and all the teams will be happy with the amenities here. Kansas City also wants to promote the sport for their MLS team. The capacity of 19,000 is perfect for this final.

Livestrong Sporting Park capaciy is 18,467 which will be perfect for the
U-23 Championship. The bvenue is intimate and should be lively
The USA, Canada and Mexico got automatic bids to the final which is a bit unfair to the rest of CONCACAF. 3 nations from Central America will participate. The surprise here is Panama knocked out Costa Rica for the final Central American spot. The Caribbean will place Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago to round out the 8 finalists. Jamaica had a surprise exit when they tied Suriname on points with 7 in the group stage. Suriname tied Jamaica in the 90 minute on a penalty. This allowed Suriname to advance over Jamaica. Haiti and Antigua and Barbuda were both knocked out by host Saint Kitts and Nevis. Those were the Caribbean surprises.

Group A -Nashville, Tennesse, at LP Field

                USA, Canada, Cuba and El Salvador

Group B- Home Depot Center, Carson Ca.
         Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago

Sunday, November 27, 2011

MLS soccer is growing

Portland Timbers fans had an average of 18,827 in their first year of MLS play. This stadium is not new but refurbished in the middle of downtown Portland. It is a great location with great fans.
This is a well written article about the growth of MLS attendance. The article states that MLS has over taken the hockey NHL and basketball NBA in the states. Well stats do not lie but these stats are a little skewed. Looking at wikipedia attendance we can see that Seattle and LA have averages of 38,496 and 23,335 raise the average of the league. There are 11 out of 18 clubs below the average. My lowely New England Revolution are a pathetic 13,222....well below the MLS, NBA and NHL average.
    That being said I have to say the MLS is still growing. The soccer specific stadiums are important but it is also important where the stadium is built. Chicago, Columbus, RSL have new sss but do not sell out. Seattle play in a American football stadium and have the best attendance. It seems to be more important where the stadium is built as opposed to a new soccer specific stadium.

Ok enought will being a pessamist. MLS has 184 international players. Many from out CONCACAF countries. MLS is a nice goals for many players in our region.

Friday, November 25, 2011

        Panama was the top team going in and the Canaleros did not disappoint their fans. Panama has been on an upswing since 2005 when they made the Gold Cup final. Panama’s only close game was away in Nicaragua. Panama scored 15 goals for and only let in 2. One of the goals was on own goal. Panama is poised to make a good run in the Semi-finals. They will be grouped with regional rival Honduras, Cuba and group D Champion Canada. This semi-final group should be the tightest contested with all 4 teams.

Nicaragua was the last place team in Pot 3 however they beat Dominica (Pot 2) twice in this World Cup qualifying cycle. I believe they would have beaten Bahamas twice also to treat their growing fans base in Managua. Nicaragua play Panama to a 1-2 loss in Managua. 10,500 fans showed for this game which was a great crowd. Only 2,000 showed for the Dominica game after Nicaragua was already out of the competition. Nicaragua is growing slowly. Their next chance to prove themselves will be the Central American Cup in 2012. They quite possibly could host this event.

Dominica was a big disappointment. They were ranked much higher than Nicaragua but were exposed in this qualifying cycle. Dominica lost all 4 games and did not score a goal.

Bahamas was an embarrassment not only to themselves but to CONCACAF also.

     Canada was the team to beat and they proved that by averaging 3 goals a game and only letting in 1. They played with poise and they also got points when they were not on their game. The Canucks have been complaining for years about the lack of commitment the federation showed the team over the years. The team could not get together and play because of the lack of funds. Canada would always have good players but would lost in World Cup Qualifying and Gold Cup since they did not prepare like the USA and Mexico could. Well now Canada has 6 games in 2011 and they will have 6 games in 2012 to get a cohesive team together. They have MLS MVP in DeRosario. They are also in a semi-final group that does not have USA or Mexico. Canada will face Honduras, Panama and Cuba. F their was a year for Canada to make the Hex this is the year.

       I have been waiting since 2007 for Puerto Rico to emerge in the Caribbean. This World Cup cycle was good for this island. They placed 2nd ahead of both Saint Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia. The Blue Hurricanes only lost 1 game to Canada but is was a home game. Puerto Rico started to put things together as the tournament went along. Their top scorer was 6’1” Hector Ramos with 4 goals. He now plays for the Puerto Rico Islanders. He is only 21 but he developed his skills in the Puerto Rico soccer league. Puerto Rico is coached by Costa Rican Jeaustin Campos and he was hired for the long term gain for the sport. Campos has a young team and they should make some noise in the Caribbean Cup 2013.

Saint Kitts an Nevis only has about 52,000 in it’s population but they seem to produce a quality team for their size. They too only lost 1 game. They are presently looking to host the Caribbean Cup 2013.

Saint Lucia did not win but kept pace in this group.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Where is the Central American Cup 2013 be played?

        Central America has been quite good about hosting the Central American Cup. 5 out of the 7 countries have hosted multiple times. Honduras has hosted 3 times which is the most. Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and El Salvador have each hosted twice. Belize and Nicaragua have never hosted. Belize and Nicaragua never hosted sine there was not much interest, their national teams stunk and they did not have adequate facilities. Presently Belize and Nicaragua field a competitive team. I do not believe they could make a serious run at the final even if they hosted.

           The question is where will this tournament be hosted. I believe it will be between Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Belize. The last Central American Cup was played in the same year as the Gold Cup 2011. I believe the tournament will agains be played in January of 2013 this time. This is a good time for this region to play. It will get their prospective teams together right before the important Gold Cup.

Costa Rica has the newest and nicest stadium in Central America.
Costa has not hosted in over 13 years. they are due to host!

      Costa Rica would love to host this regional event. The have not won this event since 1999. They have great fans, they have one of the top teams in the CONCACAF region and they presently have a new national stadium that is the gem of Central American stadiums. This stadium is the show peice in Central America for football and it would be the show piece for this tournamnet. Costa Rica is ready and capable to host the best CA tournament to date. Costa Rica has been in the Championship game 10 of the 11 tournaments. this just shows how consistently good this national team has been.

Could Nicaragua host the Central American Cup for the First time.
Will they have seats for the fans?

        Nicaragua also has a new national stadium in Managua. They did have a good turn out for one of their World Cup qualifiers. Over 10,000 turned out for Panama's game. Only 2,000 turned out for Dominica game. Nicaragua  is not as good as the other nations. If Nicaragua loses it's first few games and des not even make the knockout rounds, there may be no one in the stadium. This is the big problem hosting in Nicaragua. The nationsl stadium is new however it is not that nice of a stadium. All other CA countried have nicver stadiums than Nicaragua.

Belize has never hosted the tournament and are due to host. Belize is the same boat as Nicaragua with less of a chance. There is less of a population, there is less interest in Belize, the infra structure is not as good and  Belize has a smaller stadium. couple all that with Belize is probably the worst team in Central America.
You guess is as good as mind but these are my 3 leaders..

2013     -----------
2011       Panama
2009       Honduras
2007       El Salvador
2005       Guatemala
2003       Panama
2001       Honduras
1999       Costa Rica
1997       Guatemala
1995       El Salvador
1993       Honduras
1991       Costa Rica

 *corection on year 2013 not 20112 update 11-25-2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

CONCACAF World Cup qualifying Group B review

    This group was the tightest contested group with 3 nations vying for the top spot. Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Bermuda all fielded competitive clubs. Guyana, the tiny nation from South America was the team that came out on top. They beat Trinidad & Tobago when they had to. 18,000 spectators turned out for this match against T&T Nov 11th in Providence Stadium in Guyana. This also was the highest attended game in the group. This win propelled Guyana into the semi-finals. Guyana will now face tougher competition in Mexico, Costa Rica and Group A Champion El Salvador. The road does not get easier but all the Guyana fans are thrilled to be moving on.

Trinidad & Tobago has been the Caribbean pace setter for over a decade. This tiny country of about 1 Million was a great disappointment to their fans but not to me. I thought they played well and only missed out on advancing. This was a very difficult group and T&T only missed out by 1 point. I think once Jack Warner issues settle T&T will be back to it old self playing for the Caribbean championship and displaying quality football we have been accustom from the red and black.

Bermuda played well in the last World Cup Qualifying so there was no reason to think they would not be worse this time around. This qualifying campaign we got to see how they performed over 6 games. I have to say they performed well to keep pace with Guyana and T&T.

Barbados did not win any games. They only scored 2 goals. They need a lot of work to compete in the Caribbean.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CONCACAF Round 2 review

I referred to this group as El Salvador’s group because they were the team to beat. They won every game and dominated in the stats category. They scored the most goals with 20 and let in the least (5). There was never a question as to who the best team in this group was. El Salvador will advance to Round 3 in a formidable group which will have regional rival Costa Rica, CONCACAF power Mexico and newcomer Guyana.

The other nations we will not see until the next Caribbean Cup in 2012. The second place finisher was a surprise here. The Dominican Republic had quite a successful World Cup Qualifying campaign. They had to play in round 1 against Anguilla. The won is easy fashion 2-0 and 4-0. The Dominican Republic was then the last seed in this group. They were supposed to finish last, however this nation took a giant leap forward. They only lost 2 games and they were to El Salvador. Both games were 1 goal games. The Dominican Republic also scored 12 goals and let in 8, leaving them with a +4 goal differential. They also shot up the FIFA ranking are are presently the 18th ranked CONCACAF nation, outpacing Bermuda, Belize, Nicaragua and rival Puerto Rico.
Suriname had a chance to advance in their last 2 games. The problem was they had to beat El Salvador. Suriname play as I expected and wound up in 3rd.

The Cayman Islands did not embarrass themselves. They played competitive the whole tournament. This tiny island has been encouraged and now they are interested in hosting the next Caribbean Cup 2012.