With the Gold Cup group stages over and the knockout round to begin this weekend, let’s take a casual glance at what lies ahead.
After the U.S. national team defeated Costa Rica 1-0 last night in Connecticut, the field for the final eight was set.
And this year’s Gold Cup has produced plenty of surprises, including Cuba’s stunning 4-0 win over Belize yesterday which saw them reach the quarterfinals for just the second-time in their history.
The Cubans needed to win by four or more to qualify, and scored the decisive goal in the final minute. Wonderful stuff.
So, who’s playing who? Well, on Saturday a double header takes place at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, with the Cuban heroes taking on Panama. That’s followed by Mexico taking on Trinidad and Tobago for a place in the semifinals.
On Sunday the USA face El Salvador, while a huge clash takes place between old rivals Costa Rica and Honduras. Both games will be played at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.
Now that we know the match ups, what can we expect from this bumper weekend of Gold Cup action?
Panama vs. Cuba
Everything points to a blowout Panama win. But this Cuban side is certainly gutsy after that incredible last-gasp effort (watch below) against Belize. For the first-half against the USA, Cuba held their own and look dangerous going forward so Panama will have to watch out. However anything other than a resounding Panama win would surprise me, as they remain unbeaten in the tournament.
Mexico vs. Trinidad and Tobago
Mexico have been up and down during the Gold Cup but things are starting to come together for Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre’s side. Wins against Canada and Martinique have helped them recover following the defeat to Panama. T&T have Kenwyne Jones up front and will provide a difficult task for El Tri. Upset alert.
USA vs. El Salvador
Klinsmann’s men are cruising after three wins from three following last night’s 1-0 victory over Costa Rica. (watch below) But El Salvador have caused Klinsmann’s men a few problems in the past. Sacha Klejstan scored a last-minute winner when they last met in 2010, and the Yanks had to come from behind to win and tie in the two previous meeting before that. The Salvadorans beat Haiti 1-0 to secure their place in the quarters but the U.S. should win comfortably.
Honduras vs. Costa Rica
When these nations clash there’s often a scuffle and Sunday will be no different. Costa Rica have won 1-0 in the previous two meetings between the teams, and you should expect a tight game in Baltimore. Passion, pride and the will to make the semifinals should make this a pulsating clash between the Central American rivals.