Tag:El Salvador
Posted on: June 18, 2011 3:30 pm

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011 - Quarterfinal Preview

Of the four quarterfinal matchups this weekend I am confident in predicting only one winner, and those who have been following the tournament probably know who that is. Mexico is by far the favorite to win the tournament and there isn’t another team playing anywhere near the level the Group A champions displayed in the group phase.

With that said, let’s preview the weekend quarterfinal matchups…

SATURDAY, JUNE 18 – New Meadowlands Stadium, E. Rutherford, NJ
[A2-CRC] Costa Rica vs. Honduras [HON-B2]

The soccer gods are particularly cruel to these two teams in this matchup. These two sides battled it out for the third spot in “The Hex” for the 2010 World Cup with Honduras advancing and Costa Rica losing in a playoff to Uruguay. Both teams have been less than impressive so far in this tournament and both had identical results in the group phase by blowing out the fourth place team, drawing the third and losing to the winners, while finishing second over the third place team on GD.

I’d have to give a slight edge to Costa Rica here. All of Honduras’ seven goals in the tournament so far came against Grenada in a 7-1 blowout. Costa Rica hasn’t been impressive by any means, but they did score against Mexico in their last game while Honduras was shut out for second time in the Gold Cup by a reserve laden Jamaica squad. Don’t be surprised if this one gets chippy and makes it to extra time and/or penalties.

[A1-MEX] Mexico vs. Guatemala [GUA-B3] 

The only true mismatch of the quarterfinal stage in my opinion mainly because Mexico is on fire. Javier Hernandez can’t stop scoring and Guatemala doesn’t have the horses to stay with El Tri. With that said, Mexico needs to open the game up fast. If they allow Guatemala to hang around into the second half, Carlos Ruiz, Marco Pappa and the Guatemala attack might have just enough to punch home a goal. If Mexico gets out to an early lead and forces Guatemala to press more men forward, the counter attack will be wide open and this game could over after an hour.

SUNDAY, JUNE 19 – RFK Stadium, Washington D.C.
[B1-JAM] Jamaica vs. United States [USA-C2]

Another cruel matchup pits the streaking Reggae Boys of Jamaica against the USA. Jamaica rolled through a relatively weak Group B and its reward is a struggling USA side that slogged its way to a runner up finish in Group C. If the USA has their act together and shows up for all 90 minutes, this will be a great game I think. Lucky for the US, they’re hosting this tournament because if this game was in Jamaica tomorrow I don’t know if the USA wins it.

There are two keys to this game; First, how will the USA left match up against Dane Richards and the Jamaica 3-5-2 formation? Landon Donovan and the US left back (likely Steve Cherundolo) will have their hands full with the speedly NY Red Bulls winger and Donovan will also have to spend a lot more time up front, where he’s been MIA all tournament. If the USA can win this matchup, it will likely free up a ton of chances for Dempsey, Altidore and the rest of the USA but that brings me to the second key to the game…
Can the USA finish inside the 18? Somehow the USA defeated Guadeloupe on a thunderous strike from Jozy Altidore at the top of the box. But it’s the USA’s finishing inside the area that has been atrocious. I know Bob Bradley has been giving a lot of players looks up front at striker/forward due to lack of performance, but maybe it’s time to stick to one player next to Altidore up front.

[C1-PAN] Panama vs. El Salvador [SLV-A3]

This is another interesting matchup despite the differences in the two teams standing in their respective groups. El Salvador’s shining moment came in their near upset of Costa Rica, but a last minute equalizer by the Ticos meant that game finished in a draw. Panama pulled off a stunning upset of the USA, but have otherwise been largely unimpressive in my opinion.

Without sounding like a bitter USA fan, Panama was lucky to win Group C. They allowed Guadeloupe back into a game they were up 3-0, lucked out that the USA couldn’t buy another goal in the second half and got a last minute equalizer to draw and eliminate Canada. I still think that Panama’s striker duo of Perez and Tejada will be able to push the Red Tide into the semi-finals.

Posted on: June 5, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 3:19 pm

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011 - Group A Preview

Costa Rica [CRC] – Rankings (FIFA – 53 / Elo – 43)
Nicknames - Ticos, La Sele
Qualification – UNCAF (Central America) – 2nd Place
CONCACAF Championships – 3 (1963, 1969, 1989)

Costa Rica have become as close to a regional power as you can get in CONCACAF. They qualified for the World Cup in 2002 and 2006 and have made the knockout stages of the Gold Cup in the last six tournaments dating back to 2000. Their best finish in the “modern” Gold Cup was a runner-up finish to the USA in 2002. RSL striker Alvaro Saborio will likely lead the attack for Costa Rica, whose roster features a nice mix of domestic and internationally based players. Their first two matchups will be against Cuba and El Salvador and two wins would secure a knockout berth before ending the group stage against Mexico.

Cuba [CUB] – Rankings (FIFA – 65 / Elo – 98)
Nicknames – Leones del Caribe
Qualification – CFU (Caribbean) 3rd Place
CONCACAF Gold Cup – 5 Appearances, Quarters in 2003

If you’re looking for a darkhorse, Cuba is it. Why? Because we hardly know anything about them. They have an entire roster of domestically based players and don’t exactly play a lot of friendly matches. Their record in the CFU Championship was very impressive as the 5<sup>th</sup> seed, winning both of their qualification groups (defeating and eliminating Trinidad & Tobago in the process) before losing in the semi-finals to Guadelope.

El Salvador [SLV] – Rankings (FIFA – 87 / Elo – 94)
Nicknames – Los Cuscatlecos
Qualification – UNCAF (Central America) 4th Place
CONCACAF Gold Cup – 6 Appearances, Quarters in 2002, 2003

El Salvador is an interesting team, featuring a squad of almost all domestic players. There are two MLS players on the squad, Timbers D Steve Purdy and RSL M Arturo Alvarez but the rest of the players are largely unknowns. 2011 Copa Centroamericana (UNCAF’s qualifying tournament for the Gold Cup) Golden Boot winner F Rafael Burgos did not make the roster. Don’t expect a lot of noise from this side if they make it to the knockout stages.

 Mexico [MEX] – Rankings (FIFA – 28 / Elo – 12)
Nickname – El Tri
Qualification – NAFU (North America) – Automatic
CONCACAF Championships – ’65, ’71, ’77, ’93, ’96, ’98, ’03, ‘09 

The defending champions are set to defend their title and this might be one of the best teams they’ve fielded in several years. A good mix of domestic and internationally based players, US fans should be familiar with NY Red Bulls M/D Rafael Marquez and Manchester United F Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. They just mopped up New Zealand in a friendly 3-0 in Denver on June 1st and drew with Ecuador 1-1 in Seattle on May 28th.

Standings (W-D-L, Pts, GD)                                   Results

MEX – 2-1-0, 7pts, +5                                               CRC 2-0 CUB
CRC – 2-1-0, 7 pts, +4                                              MEX 3-0 SLV
CUB – 1-0-2, 3 pts, -3                                                CRC 2-0 SLV
SLV – 0-0-3, 0 pts, -6                                                CUB 1-3 MEX
                                                                                           SLV  0-1 CUB
                                                                                          MEX 2-2 CRC

I expect to see Mexico and Costa Rica to have the top two spots wrapped up before they playmaking that final game meaningless. I think El Salvador and Cuba are just overmatched in this particular group. I haven’t figured out the other two groups so I won’t know if Cuba will be advancing in the third place tiebreaker but I’d be stunned to see Mexico or Costa Rica out in the group stages.

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