Gold Cup Today: Mexico clashes with Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago gets Panama – Quarterfinals

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A mouth-watering day of Gold Cup action comes to us today from New York City as two pre-tournament favorites face off and a Cinderella story looks to fight another day.

The tournament format seemed to be begging for a potential USA vs Costa Rica semifinal followed by a potential USA vs Mexico final, and yet here we are, two of the favorites at the beginning of the competition squaring off in the quarterfinals. These two teams have both underwhelmed mightily to this point, and will look to turn things around with a win against a quality opponent.

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Meanwhile, the most impressive team of the group stage has avoided Costa Rica and instead drawn Panama as Trinidad & Tobago hopes to reap the rewards of an all-time classic to achieve the country’s first-ever first place finish in a Gold Cup group.

Game 21: Trinidad & Tobago vs Panama
When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Live updates: NBCSports.com

Trinidad & Tobago has been one of – if not the most – impressive teams thus far through the 2015 Gold Cup. They brushed aside Guatemala and Cuba with ease before completing one of the most exciting double-comebacks in Gold Cup history with a 4-4 draw against Mexico. Now, they will face a Panama side that impressed in spurts in Group A play but ultimately needed the third-place table to qualify for the knockout rounds.

The small island nation has played an attractive brand of soccer, and have been unfazed by repeated attempts to break them down with a physical style of play. Kenwyne Jones, ahead of a potential MLS move, has been a revelation up front, and his supporting cast of midfielders has proven a creative asset. Panama will likely continue to try and peg Trinidad back with repeated fouling, and they have more than enough talent to capitalize on Trinidad mistakes that may have gone unpunished through the group stage.

Game 22: Mexico vs. Costa Rica
When: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Live updates: NBCSports.com

This game wasn’t supposed to happen, not this early. Had each of these teams won their groups, this could have been a potential finals matchup. Instead, one will be going home after the quarterfinals, a massively disappointing result for whoever comes out on the losing end. Miguel Herrera was especially clueless after his team’s last match, rambling aimlessly through his postmatch press conference in Charlotte after blowing a pair of leads against Trinidad & Tobago.

Costa Rica, meanwhile, limped through three group stage draws and has yet to truly impress anyone, a far cry from their impressive 2014 World Cup showing. They blew a lead against Jamaica, capitulated in stoppage time against El Salvador, and couldn’t score in a grinder against Canada. They could take advantage of a seemingly broken Mexican defense, but there’s little momentum to build on at the moment. Whoever emerges victorious in the East Rutherford nightcap will breathe a sigh of relief, while the loser will go home with plenty of questions to answer.