Only Four Teams Remaining in the Gold Cup – How Did We Get Here?
By Columnist Matt Lieberman
- A review of Group Play, the quarter-finals, and some of the biggest stories in this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament
- Quibbl’s MVPs, Man of the Match, and Group Play standings
- Match highlights and Further Reading
With a month-long break in the World Cup qualifiers and the Champions League playoffs yet to come, the last two weeks, the national teams of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean have been battling it out to capture the continent’s biggest title in soccer. The Gold Cup is the primary men’s international soccer competition in the northwestern region of the world, held every two years and governed by CONCACAF. The current champion is Mexico, who won their seventh title, the most among all participating countries, in 2015.
The 14th edition of the Golf Cup, hosted by the United States, who won the tournament in 2013, began on Friday, July 7 with a group stage consisting of twelve teams. The quarterfinals, which began on Wednesday, July 19 ended just last night (July 20). Now, only four teams remain — Costa Rica, the United States, Jamaica, and Mexico. The semi-finals will take place Saturday at 10PM and Sunday at 9PM. The Gold Cup final is Wednesday, July 26 at 9:30PM (all times are in Eastern Time).
Before Quibbl tells you all about the upcoming semi-finals, and gives you an opportunity to take your picks, let’s recap some of the action we’ve seen so far in Group Play and in the Quarter-finals.
|1||Costa Rica||3||2||1||0||5||1||+4||7||Advance to knockout stage|
Group A MVP: Patrick Pemberton, Costa Rica goalie
The Costa Rican keeper let up only one goal in two games for his side, proving Costa Rica to be the defensive juggernaut in Group A. He certainly got some help from his teammates, as his nation’s squad scored five goals in three games of Group Play against Honduras, Canada, and New Guinea.
|1||United States (H)||3||2||1||0||7||3||+4||7||Advance to knockout stage|
Group B MVP: Jose Calderon, Panama Goalie
Calderon, Panama’s starting goalie, had a couple of stellar performance, letting up only two goals in the three matches of Group Play. He had a particularly impressive showing against Martinique, pulling the clean sheet in a 3-0 blowout victory.
|1||Mexico||3||2||1||0||5||1||+4||7||Advance to knockout stage|
Group C MVP: Elías Hernández (Winger, Mexico)
Hernandez proved himself as a winger not afraid to take risks, shooting nine times in three games and scoring a goal in a 3-1 win over El Salvador. The Mexican footballer, who plays with Liga MX’s Club Leon, had two shots on target against El Salvador, as one of them ended up finding the net.
Knockout Stage: Quarter-finals
Match 1: Costa Rica (Group A) v. Panama (Group B)
Final score: Costa Rica 1-0 Panama
Quibbl’s Man of the Match: Patrick Pemberton, Costa Rica goalie
With yet another clean sheet in the tournament,this time in the quarter-final, Pemberton established himself as a lockdown keeper, especially when it matters most. The only goal in this match was an Own Goal (Aníbal Godoy in the 77th minute) as Pemberton yet again proved himself with his nation watching.
Match 2: U.S. (Group B) v. El Salvador (Group C)
Final score: U.S. 2-0 El Salvador
Quibbl’s Man of the Match: Eric Lichaj, U.S. defender
Lichaj, the Nottingham Forest player out of Downers Grove, Illinois, sealed the deal with a tricky nutmeg past Salvadorian goalie Derby Carrillo. With his first international goal Lichaj made it clear that he’s not only a strong defensive presence, but also a threat on the other end of the pitch.
Match 3: Jamaica (Group C) v. Canada (Group A)
Final Score: Jamaica 2-0 Canada
Quibbl’s Man of the Match: Shaun Francis, Jamaica defender
Jamaica’s Francis, who plays in the MLS with the Montreal Impact, set the tone for the rest of the match by putting one away from within the box in the 6th minute. Getting on the board early gave Jamaica the momentum necessary to net another one in the 50th minute, courtesy of Romario Williams.
Match 4: Mexico (Group C, Position 1) v. Honduras (Group A, Position 3)
Mexico 1-0 Honduras, Mexico advances to the semi-finals
Quibbl’s Man of the Match: Rodolfo Pizarro, (Midfielder, Mexico)
Pizarro, who plays for Guadalajara of Liga MX scored the game-winning- and only- goal in this match. His strike came in just the 4th minute, as Mexico then cruised to the semi-finals to face the Jamaican side.
Want to read more? Check out these pieces about this year’s Gold Cup from around the web…
Steven Goff of the The Washington Post chronicles “Nipple-gate,” in which El Salvadorian player Darwin Ceren allegedly bit U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez in the 81st minute [Link to The Washington Post]
PREVIEW: “Altidore joked about nipple-gate afterward, saying: “My girl is mad at me. She’s mad at me, she’s mad at Romero. She’s like, ‘Only I can bite you, only I can grab your nipples.’ ”
The ESPN FC staff on former U.S. striker Landon Donovan’s reaction to the alleged U.S.-El Salvador biting incident [Link to ESPN FC]
PREVIEW: “Biting has been a major issue in the sport since Luis Suarez was suspended in three incidents: seven Dutch league matches in 2010 (PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal), 10 games in England in 2013 (Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic) and four months and nine international matches (Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup).”
S.I.’s Brian Straus describes the American side’s awareness of the improvements they must make as they head deeper into the tournament [Link to Sports Illustrated]
PREVIEW: “Eric Lichaj had reason to celebrate and he started to do so with some enthusiasm, but it was as if his mind or body or some combination thereof decided right in the middle of it all to stop abruptly. The defender raced toward the left corner flag on the north side of Lincoln Financial Field, dove and never really came close to slipping the surly bonds of Earth.”
Rudi Schuller of Goal.com chronicles the Canadian team’s road to their first Gold Cup Knockout game since 2009 [Link to Goal.com]
PREVIEW: “For their part, the Canadians aren’t idly accepting advancement to the quarters as the end goal. Cyle Larin, the 22-year-old former MLS rookie of the year who plies his trade for Orlando City, has been summoned by Zambrano to replace midfielder/defender Raheem Edwards in the squad. The move signifies a commitment to the type of attacking soccer that Zambrano promised when he took the reins earlier this year.”
Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times gives an overview of the roster changes that coach Bruce Arena made to the USMNT roster [Link to L.A. Times]
PREVIEW: “Arena had said he intended to use the three group-play games to expand the national team player pool and Dwyer was among those who impressed. The British-born striker, who recently secured U.S. citizenship, scored in each of his first two caps with the national team.”
Stay tuned for Part Two of our Gold Cup coverage, which will give you the opportunity to predict the semi-finals and finals of the tournament.
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