Monday, June 11, 2007

Gold Cup 2007: Pleasantly Suprised

Background: The Gold Cup is a tournament which crowns the champion of North America/Central America/Cabbibean; it is to CONCACAF what The European Championships are to European footy- a World Cup like tournament involving only teams from a continent's federation. In fact, there are 5 such major events, now that Australia have moved from Oceania to Asia: European Championships for Europe, Copa America for South America, African Cup of Nations for Africa, Gold Cup for CONCACAF, and Asian Cup for the Asia.

So the CONCACAF Gold Cup started last Wednesday, and I didn't really have any plans to follow it other than catching highlights on Fox Sports World Report in the evenings, because I'm kind of ambivalent about US Soccer and for some bizarre reason I think that my attitude towards MLS somehow translated into not much enthusiasm for this tournament, as completely nonsensical as that comparison is in reality.

Anyhow, as it happened, I watched Honduras come from behind to upset 10 man Mexico 2-1 with a goal in the last minute, and then watched Panama and Cuba play to a very entertaining 2-2 draw. Both matches were very well played, pretty exciting, played before a big crowd at Giants Stadium, and broadcast on Univision y Galavision, making them much, much more watchable than if they were on ESPN.

So now I am on board, as what I have seen has been good and entertaining footy, especially as things are pretty exciting and wide open going into the last games of the group stage. The tournament is a bit NHL-esque, in that there are 12 teams that only get whittled down to 8 for the knockout stage, but at this point, other than the US having made it through, most all of the other spots are still up for grabs {1st & 2nd in each of the three groups goes through, as do the two 3rd place finishers with the highest point totals}.


And how can you not root for Guadalupe? Hell, they aren't even a country, but amazingly after drawing with Haiti and shocking Canada 2-1, they sit atop their group with a great chance to make the knockout stage. Tonight they play Costa Rica in a bizarro match in Miami- Guadalupe top the group and Costa Rica are bottom, whereas going in each team was favored to be in the others position. So if you like a good underdog story then Guadalupe is your squad.

Group A finishes up tonight, Group B tomorrow, and Group C Wednesday, with the quarterfinals starting on Thursday. I'm intrigued and will be watching as much as possible. FYI the matches are on Univision and Galavision nightly, with I believe only the US matches on ESPN/2.

Allez Guadalupe!


Moin said...

For such a small population, Guadeloupe is an amazing football factory: Gallas, Wiltord, Thuram, Chimbonda, and Saha.

Imagine how strong they'd be if those guys didn't join France? You got 2 world class defenders (possibly the best central defence partnership in the last World Cup) and two attacking forward/wingers, one for each side too! And Chimbonda ain't too shabby either.

Can you say tournament favorites? Yes, I think you can.

Moin said...

Oh, I left out one more.

Thierry Henry's dad is from Guadeloupe too.

This team would win the Gold Cup without breaking a sweat.

Kanu said...

Oui, oui: une equipe tres formidable.

They sure could have used any of those dudes tonight, they went down and they will have to have lots got heir way to get through as a 3rd place team.

LD said...

Honduras looked faster, more creative and simply better than Mexico in the parts I saw (albeit, Mexico was down one). Mexico's eggs in a different basket (Copa America)?

Kanu said...

Hmmm, interesting point LD.

Not sure- to me it looked like a classic case of a game totally changing with a sending off. Mexico were pretty much in control before Blanco saw red, with Honduras not doing anything going forward. With Blanco off, the game totally changed and Honduras controlled the ball & created chances, while Mexico were playing defense/containment.

I'm not sure, but I would speculate that Mexico very much want to win the Gold Cup esp if it means beating the US in the semi or final, since Mexico has been supplanted by the US as the best team in CONCACAF in the last 6 years, and I believe the the US hasn't lost to Mexico outside of Mexico in a long long time, so I would think that they would love to make a statement on US soil.

LD said...

Do I have this right? Two 3rd placed teams advance. So Guadeloupe advance as long as they are ahead of either 3rd in B or 3rd in C.

So Guadeloupe advance with:

A) USA win over El Salvador (Guadeloupe would have 4 points, 3rd in B would have 3)


B) T&T win over Guatemala. (Guadeloupe would have 4 points, 3rd in B would have 3)


C) Mexico 2 goal win over Panama AND Honduras win/draw to Cuba. (Guadeloupe would have 4 points with a GD 0, 3rd in C would have 4 points with a GD -1)

D) Panama win over Mexico AND ANY result in Honduras/Cuba (Guadeloupe would have 4 points, 3rd in C would have no better than 3 points)

I think that it's a pretty likely scenario for Guadeloupe to advance, if I have it right.

In fact, I think the only way they don't advance is if:

El Salvador beats USA
Guatemala beats T&T
(a) Mexico beats Panama by no more than one goal (regardless of the result in Guatemala/Cuba)
(b) Mexico and Panama draw with at least one goal scored each (regardless of the result in Guatemala/Cuba)

LD said...

Yeah, most of what I saw was post-red, so I can't say anything that's truly meaningful about that game.

I'm sure Mexico wants to win this, but there have to be some considerations at play here. I know the USA is putting more effort into the Gold Cup because they want to play in the Confederations Cup as a prelim to SA2010. Mexico, I'm sure wants to beat USA, but I've always had the sense that Mexico wants to run with the big South American countries even more than that. Just a sense I've always had - as in the way Mexican clubs approach Copa Libertadores compared to the CONCACAF Champions' League.

Kanu said...

Yes I believe you are right about Guadalupe LD; thanks for taking the time to sort it all out instead of making a lazy generalized guess when overly tired like yours truly did.

I'm finding myself really pulling for the little guys in this Gold Cup.

Kanu said...

Sweet: Guadalupe is in.

Merci Etats Unis.