Exploring some of the Gold Cup’s colorful history

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From a competition standpoint, the Gold Cup has been the province of U.S. and Mexican success.

But it’s a quirky little competition in some ways, with shifting time frames, some odd-duck guest appearances, an impressive history of player defections from Cuba and even some attachment to dark scandal.

Let’s take a quick walk through some of the notorious and the memorable, on and off the field:

In the 1998 Gold Cup … Brazil was a guest team, which was a little more common back then. (What ways “regional tournament” like South Korea, which participated in the 2002 tournament? Either way, good thing about Brazil. Because without Brazil’s note-worthy participation 15 years back, Kasey Keller might never have delivered one of the best performances by a human being ever in a U.S. shirt.

In the 2000 Gold Cup … Canada won. No, seriously!

In the 2002 Gold Cup Cuban players Alberto Delgado and Rey Angel Martinez defected from the Cuban team while it was in Los Angeles.

In the 2003 Gold Cup … Brazil and Colombia were guests. Only, Brazil sent it under-23 team. Hmph! Some moxy … thinking they can come into our house and beat our best with their little under-23s! Ahem … they did, though. Brazil 2, United States 1.

In the 2005 Gold Cup … During the tournament, matches in Miami’s Group A had to be postponed because of Hurricane Dennis.

In the 2007 Gold Cup … Osvaldo Alonso and Lester Moore defected from Cuba. (Alonso has become one of Major League Soccer’s top performers, now doing the holding midfield business in Seattle.) If defection and brave escape from oppressive regimes weren’t such serious business, we’d insert some flip remark here about Cuban defection practically being a Gold Cup tradition.

In the 2011 Gold Cup … The United States lost in group play for the first time. Panama  was the winner that night in Tampa – and Tim Ream’s international career has never recovered.

In the 2011 Gold Cup … Yosniel Mesa defect from the Cuban team while in Charlotte, N.C.  Seriously, at some point it’s just a freakin’ cliché.

Also in the 2011 Gold Cup …Several matches, including two involving Mexico (a pair of 5-0 wins against El Salvador and Cuba) came under heavy suspicion for betting irregularities. That’s a nice way of saying some aspect may have been fixed. Insidious stuff for our quaint little tournament, eh?

U.S. Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.