2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Tournament kicks off today, with USA the favorites

2013GoldCupTrophy (CONCACAF)

By IVES GALARCEP

It might seem like much longer, but it has been six year since the U.S. Men’s National Team lifted the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the last time. Six years since Benny Feilhaber’s dream strike helped beat Mexico and give the U.S. their fourth Gold Cup trophy, doing so in Soldier Field in Chicago.

The Americans have a chance to repeat that magical moment, and do so at the very same stadium of their last Gold Cup triumph, this summer in a 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup that will be very wide open.

The tournament kicks off today, with two-time defending champion Mexico starting things off tonight. Mexico has sent a B team to the tournament after having its first-choice players take part in June World Cup qualifiers as well as the Confederations Cup. Some disappointing pre-tournament results have the Mexicans looking very much like an incomplete team that will struggle to match the dominance of the past two ‘El Tri’ Gold Cup teams, title winners in 2009 and 2011.

With Mexico’s team looking weaker than ever, the U.S. enters this tournament as favorites. Led by multiple-time Gold Cup winners Landon Donovan, Damarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu, the Americans enter this Gold Cup as favorites, even though this is going to be arguably the toughest tournament to predict in the Gold Cup’s 22-year history.

Will we see the USA and Mexico meet again in the final for the fourth straight time, and sixth time in the tournament’s history? That remains a very real possibility, but teams like Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica will look to play the role of spoiler as they try to break up the Gold Cup dominance the U.S. and Mexico have enjoyed, with one of the two accounting for the past six, and 10 of all 11 Gold Cup titles.

Panama and Costa Rica both bring in teams with plenty of experience, while Honduras features a B team with some quality in the attack. The field also has its underdogs, with Belize, Martinique and Cuba playing the roles of dark horse.

Here is a closer look at the tournament, which begins today:

2013 CONCACAF GOLD CUP 

GROUP A

Schedule:

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Today: Canada vs. Martinique (Fox Soccer Channel) 5:30pm
Today: Mexico vs. Panama (Fox Soccer Channel) 8pm

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
Thursday: Panama vs. Martinique (Fox Soccer Channel) 8:30pm
Thursday: Mexico vs. Canada (Fox Soccer Channel) 11pm

Sports Authority Field, Denver, Colorado
July 14: Martinique vs. Mexico (Fox Soccer Channel) 3:30pm
July 14: Panama vs. Canada (Fox Soccer Channel) 6pm

MEXICO

MexicoTeamPhoto2013-Nigeria (Getty)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Marco Fabian, Raul Jimenez, Darvin Chavez, Jonathan Orozco

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Mexico has won the Gold Cup a record six times, including the past two tournaments.

OUTLOOK: Questions abound regarding the make-up of the team, including the sturdiness of the defense. Monterrey defender Darvin Chavez will look to anchor the back-line while Monterrey goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco will need to play very well if ‘El Tri’ will have a chance to three-peat. Winning its group should be a reasonable goal, but it is tough to see this Mexico team beating a more experienced U.S. team.

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PANAMA

PanamaTeamPhoto1-USASeattle (Getty)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Blas Perez, Felipe Baloy, Roman Torres, Jaime Penedo

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Canaleros have reached the knockout rounds in four of the past five tournaments, and were eliminated by the Americans in each of those occasions. That includes a penalty kick shootout loss in the 2005 Gold Cup final.

OUTLOOK: Panama has brought a veteran team to the Gold Cup, a surprising development considering the squad’s top players were also involved in the June World Cup qualifiers. With a defense among the best in the tournament, and the deadly scoring of Blas Perez, Panama is a very safe bet for the quarterfinals, and could absolutely make a deep run in the tournament.

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CANADA

CanadaTeamPhoto1-CostaRicaFriendly (TorontoFC)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Will Johnson, Russell Teibert, Simeon Jackson, Julian De Guzman.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Won the 2000 Gold Cup, but most recently failed to advance past the group stage of the 2011 tournament.

OUTLOOK: The Canada roster was built with an eye toward qualifying for the 2018 World Cup so there are some veterans missing, but with MLS standouts Will Johnson and Russell Teibert leading the midfield, and Simeon Jackson and Toisant Ricketts leading the forward line, Canada has the talent to reach the quarterfinals.

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MARTINIQUE

MartiniqueCarribeanChampionship1 (CONCACAF)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Freddie Piquionne, Kevin Parsemain, Jordi Delem, Nicolas Zaire

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Making their fourth overall Gold Cup appearance, but first since 2003.

OUTLOOK: One of the tournament underdogs, Martinique has some offensive firepower, with Piquionne and Parsemain, but it’s tough to see them surviving a group with Mexico, Panama and Canada. Look for some goals, but not much else.

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GROUP B

Schedule:

Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey
Monday: El Salvador vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Fox Soccer Channel) 7pm
Monday: Haiti vs. Honduras (Fox Soccer Channel) 9:30pm

Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
July 12: Trinidad & Tobago vs. Haiti (Fox Soccer Channel) 7pm
July 12: Honduras vs. El Salvador (Fox Soccer Channel) 9:30pm

BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
July 15: El Salvador vs. Haiti (Fox Soccer Channel) 7pm
July 15: Honduras vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Fox Soccer Channel) 9:30pm

HONDURAS

HondurasTeamPhoto1-Mexico (CONCACAF)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Andy Najar, Mario Martinez, Marvin Chavez, Jerry Palacios

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: A semifinalist in three of the past four Gold Cups, losing in the 2011 semifinals to eventual champion Mexico.

OUTLOOK: The Catrachos have brought a B team to the Gold Cup, but there is plenty of talent to make some noise, and win Group B. The contingent of current and former MLS attackers, including Najar, Martinez and Chavez, should make the Honduran midfield one of the toughest in the tournament, while the defense has some solid pieces. Another run to the semifinals is well within reach.

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TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Trinidad&TobagoTeamPhoto1 (SocaWarriors.net)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kenwyne Jones, Khaleem Hyland, Keon Daniel, Carlos Edwards

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Having last appeared in a Gold Cup in 2007, the ‘Soca Warriors’ are back and will have aspirations of matching their best-ever tournament finish, a semifinal place in the 200o Gold Cup.

OUTLOOK: Trinidad & Tobago come in with a team capable of reaching the knockout round, but probably not much else. Jones is one of the best players in the tournament, but the T&T midfield needs to provide him service. If Hyland and Daniel can set up the chances, T&T should be able to reach the quarterfinals.

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HAITI

HaitiTeamPhoto1-Italy2013 (Getty)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jean Philippe Peguero, Peterson Joseph, Mechak Jerome, Jean Eudes Maurice

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Haitians are back after missing the 2011 tournament. Prior to that they reached the Gold Cup quarterfinals, due in part to a draw vs. the U.S.

OUTLOOK: The Haitians are a sleeper pick to finish second in this group, with a decent defense and some dangerous attacking pieces. The strike force of Maurice and Peguero will be key to Haiti’s chances of fending off El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago for second place.

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EL SALVADOR

ElSalvadorTeamPhoto1 (CONCACAF)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jaime Alas, Rafael Burgos, Darwin Ceren, Jose Gutierrez

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Reached the Gold Cup quarterfinals in 2011, losing to Panama in penalty kicks. 

OUTLOOK: A team with some good attacking talent, El Salvador should pose a real challenge for the second-place spot in this Group B. Jaime Alas is a name U.S. fans should remember (he scored the goal that knocked the U.S. out of Olympic qualifying) while Burgos is a qualify forward. The El Salvador defense is what will likely keep them from really challenging Honduras for the top spot in Group B, but a place in the quarterfinals is within reach.

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GROUP C

Schedule:

Jeld-Wen Field, Portland, Oregon
Tuesday: Costa Rica vs. Cuba (Fox Soccer Channel) 8:30pm
Tuesday: Belize vs. United States (Fox Soccer Channel) 11pm

Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
July 13: United States vs. Cuba (Fox) 3:30pm
July 13: Costa Rica vs. Belize (Fox Soccer Channel) 6pm

Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut
July 16: Cuba vs. Belize (Fox Soccer Channel) 5:30pm
July 16: United States vs. Costa Rica (Fox Soccer Channel) 8pm

UNITED STATES

USMNT Starting 11

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Landon Donovan, Stuart Holden, DaMarcus Beasley, Herculez Gomez

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Americans have won the tournament four times, most recently in 2007, while reaching the final in each of the past Gold Cups.

OUTLOOK: With Donovan, Gomez and Holden leading the attack, and Beasley captaining the defense, the Americans have a squad capable of rolling to a title. If the U.S. centerbacks can play well, the U.S. should be able win back the Gold Cup.

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COSTA RICA

CostaRicaTeamPhoto1-Panama (Getty)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Alvaro Saborio, Celso Borges, Jairo Arrieta, Rodney Wallace

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: The Ticos reached the 2002 Gold Cup final, losing to the U.S. They fell in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Gold Cup, losing to Honduras in penalty kicks.

OUTLOOK: Not quite a full B team, this Costa Rica side features several key first-team players. With Saborio and Arrieta leading the attack, and Borges anchoring the midfield, Costa Rica should finish second in the group, and be a real tough test for someone in the quarterfinals. A place in the semifinals is definitely within reach.

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CUBA

CubaTeamPhoto1-Carribean Cup (CONCACAF)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Alberto Gomez, Odelin Molina, Jaime Colome, Jenier Marquez

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Making their seventh appearance, but coming off a brutal showing at the 2011 Gold Cup, where they lost all three matches by a combined score of 16-1.

OUTLOOK: The reigning Caribbean Cup champions are an unknown quantity, but their triumph to qualify for the Gold Cup suggest the Cubans are a team on the rise. Alberto Gomez remains a goal threat, but the Cubans will find it difficult dealing with the midfields of the U.S. and Costa Rica. That said, a win vs. Belize could earn the Cubans a place in the quarters, assuming they avoid being blown out in their other matches.

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BELIZE

BelizeTeamPhoto1 (CONCACAF)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Deon McCauley, Dalton Eiley, Ian Gaynair, Harrison Roches

TOURNAMENT HISTORY: This is Belize’s first Gold Cup.

OUTLOOK: A major underdog in the tournament, Belize qualified after finishing fourth in the Copa Centroamericano. McCauley is a capable goal scorer, but Belize will find it tough going in this group, especially given they open vs. the U.S. on Tuesday in Portland.

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45 Responses to 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Tournament kicks off today, with USA the favorites

  1. DREAM says:

    Anything other than a USA – Mexico final would be hilarious.

    • Lorenzo says:

      I could see us playing Honduras or Panama in the final. Panama brought it’s full team, full of more chemistry then any other side. They tied Costa Rica 2-2, tied Jamaica, beat Honduras, and tied Mexico 0-0. Now they are going to be playing against most teams B-squads. I would not be surprised if it’s USA-Panama.

    • Brett says:

      Mexico is not a very deep squad to begin with and they’re pouring all useful energy into the next round of qualifiers. I would not be surprised at all to see them crash out.

  2. Brett says:

    Ugliest trophy in the world.

  3. Joe+G says:

    What’s the over/under on Cuban defections?

  4. Arkie says:

    It’s weird being favorites… I still think if Mexico pulls things together, which they very well might, they are at least co-favorites. That said, I am actually more excited for this gold cup compared to some of the other off year ones simply because it seems like there is much more parity in the region, rather than just the US and Mexico and the teams that the US and Mexico beat. I’d love to see Mexico knocked out before the finals and it just might happen.

    • Paul Thomas says:

      There’s not really any such thing as an “off year” cup anymore. Starting this cycle, you have to win both cups in a four-year period to automatically qualify for the Confederations Cup.

      It’s a good development. The Hex nations aren’t truly at 100% strength, but I think it’s definitely encouraged the federations to send at least a “B+ team.” This US team would probably be good enough to finish third or fourth in the Hex.

      • Brett says:

        This US team would finish at least 2nd.

        • Broadsthooligans says:

          Not with parkhurst Goodson and onyewu at centerback. They’re passable against off year gold cup teams but Honduras panama costa rica would make that defensive line look as slow as it is.

  5. XYZ says:

    I don’t think Mexico will make it to the final, they recently lost to a second division club and Gallos Blancos, a team that has a real danger of being relegated. Now the USA will have the experienced players that gave the 2009 Mexico an edge.

    • Beto says:

      Honestly Mexico is going to have to fight just to finish above Canada and Panama. After that its all the draw

      • Brett says:

        Canada will not sniff anything in this tourney. USA, Panama, Honduras, CR, Mexico, and El Salvador all have a better chance than Canada.

  6. Dont Care says:

    We’ll see how klinsmann does in his first tournament with the US. Not making the final would be a failure

    • Jamie Z. says:

      How ’bout “Let’s see how Klinsmann does in his first tournament with the U.S.. This is an exciting and dynamic squad with a lot of potential. It will be interesting to see if any of our youngsters or returning veterans play themselves into the World Cup picture with a strong showing.”

      See how easy it is to take a wait-and-see approach without being a jerk about it?

      • Kosh says:

        + 1

      • Dont Care says:

        I’ll stick with we’ll see how Klinsmann does in a tournament environment where tactical and player descisions need to be made fairly quickly. Since it took Klinsi a year to bring in Michael Bradley, 2 years to scrap the 3 Dm’s move back to the 4-4-2 and give Jozy a partner up top, and we’re 3 years in and Castillo and Beckerman are still getting called up im a little skeptical he can manage in a tournament

    • Adi from Oregon says:

      Herr Klinsmann & USMNT willkommen to Soccer City USA (Portland, Oregon) and have a great game in our very soccer friendly stadium on Tuesday night!! You’re playing in the city stadium where the Cosmos won a Soccer Bowl with Pele and Beckenbauer a “few” years ago.

  7. Joe A. says:

    Tbh I think costa rica will be our biggest threat which is ironic since were in the same group

  8. Mig says:

    Favorites cuz we’re at home. Co-favs in a neutral country and underdogs in Mexico. The balance between the US and Mexico shades one way or the other over the years but the home field dictates the favorite. El Tri’s current (relatively) poor patch doesn’t change the overall dynamic.

    • Dont Care says:

      ehhhh youre forgetting Azteca north in LA. Being in the US doesnt mean a home crowd

      • Kevin says:

        This. Although this wouldn’t be true if y’all weren’t such nancies and actually showed up to games.

      • Paul Miller says:

        There’s more to the Azteca advantage than who the fans attending are hoping to see win.

  9. Yevgeniy says:

    Actually, I know we all want to think of ourselves as favorites, but the line I saw on William Hill had Mexico as a slight favorite to win the Gold Cup

  10. Kevin says:

    Mexico lost twice to second league mexican teams last week.I think the US is the favorite but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Honduras, Panama or Costa Rica in the final

    • Costa Rica is highly unlikely, since they’re in the USA’s group, they’d have to play the US in the Semis. Honduras or Panama are more likely options.

  11. Aaron in SF says:

    Going to be really embarrassing for Canada if they can’t beat Martinique. Doesn’t matter if it’s a “young” squad. That program has really faltered in the past decade. They at least used to be a challenge.

  12. Brant says:

    Wow! Great goal by Martinique at the death…

    It’s been a day of last-minute goals, with Korea pulling a miracle to get from Extra Time to a shootout against Iraq at the U-20s, and now Martinique stealing one from Canada in stoppage time. Mexico-Panama has some tough acts to follow.

  13. John says:

    Wow great strike in stoppage time for Martinique to beat Canada.

  14. MLSsnob says:

    Why are the Mexican fans so classless during other anthems?

  15. Fredo says:

    As David Lee Roth would say, “Panama!”

  16. Dudester says:

    Oh yeahh

  17. Dudester says:

    This is Mexicos b team.Were favorites with our b team.Are we saying we have more depth than el tri.

    • Mike R says:

      Yes Mex has no depth. Stuart Holden and Donovan alone could start for US or Mex.
      this “Golden generation” is turning into the overated generation.

  18. Goalscorer24 says:

    Mexico goes down, love it!

  19. David M says:

    So much for the Canada and Martinique predictions.