Caribbean teams so far are getting a big kick out of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament as three of the four participants — Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago — have qualified for the quarterfinal round. Cuba, hit by several player-defections, was eliminated with a pointless record in its two games, with only Guatemala to play.
For one Caribbean team, the party will be over tomorrow. As the pairings would have it, two Caribbean giants have an elimination date in Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup: Group B winner Jamaica plays Group A second-place finisher Haiti at M&T Bank Stadium, 8 pm on Saturday, July 18 in Baltimore. The game is the nightcap of a doubleheader with Group A winner USA taking on an unknown opponent in the 5 pm opener.
Jamaica is the better team and should advance to the semifinals in Atlanta at midweek. The Reggae Boyz came into the tournament in good form after their experience as a guest team in the recently concluded Copa Cup (South American Championship); although Jamaica lost all three games, by 1-0 scores to opponents such as Uruguay and Argentina, clearly there were valuable lessons learnt. The Reggae Boyz, after a slow start with a draw against Costa Rica, defeated Canada, 1-0, on a goal in the 90th minute by captain Rodolph Austin then turned back El Salvador, 1-0, when Garath McCleary scored in the 72nd minute, to win the group. Canada was eliminated.
Haiti has the world of potential and is quite capable of an upset, but the coach’s ineffective strategy and the lack of the individual discipline needed to win at this very competitive international level stifles Haiti. The Haitians drew their first game against Honduras, 1-1, on a very late goal from Duckens Nazon, but in its second game, a 1-0 loss to the USA, the Haitians squandered numerous first- half chances to score, while at the other end, poor marking in the defense in the second half led to defeat. Haiti was also burdened by a lack of proper fitness to keep up with the more energetic Americans, and the situation was compounded by Coach Marc Collat’s negative tactics, which clearly indicated that he gave the Americans too much respect. In its final group game, Nazon scored again to carry Haiti to a 1-0 win over a listless Honduran team that seemed disinterested in winning. Honduras was eliminated.
Trinidad and Tobago has a perfect 2-0 record, but to win Group C and play Panama, it must either win or draw against Mexico in its last group game that was scheduled for Wednesday, July 15, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, (NC). A loss to Mexico means that the Soca Warriors will finish second to El Tri. The Trinidadians capitalized on a good schedule and was fortunate to meet an unprepared Guatemala to come out on top, 3-1, in their opening game. Trinidad hasn’t look back since and has improved its play, as it set back Cuba, 2-0, in the second contest with clinical strikes from Sheldon Bateau and Andre Boucaud. The Soca Warriors have their stiffest test against Mexico, which will reveal the depth and true strength of Trinidad and Tobago and how deep into the tournament it will play.
Regardless of the outcome, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Costa Rica (Group B second-place finisher) and Panama will play their quarterfinal games at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands (NJ) on Sunday, July 19. Panama will play the Group C winner and Costa Rica will take on the second place finisher; the first game kicks off at 4:30 pm.
The top two teams from each of the three four-team groups advanced to the quarterfinals along with two teams with the best records from among the rest of the field. This weekend’s winners will matchup in the semifinals on Wednesday, July 22, in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome and the championship game is set for Sunday, July 26, at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field (7 pm, Fox Sports 1).
In Caribbean Cup play at Jefferson Sports Complex in Flatlands, Brooklyn, Team Dominica defeated Team Antigua and Barbuda, 1-0, on Andel Bardouille’s goal. In the second match, Team Jamaica knocked off Team Panama, 5-1; Denzil Watson, Alan Maragh, Javid Morris and O’Neil Thompson were among the scorers for Jamaica. Oscar Eccleston tallied for Panama.
On Sunday a 3 pm, Team Guyana meets Team Panama, then Team St. Vincent and the Grenadines plays Team Trinidad and Tobago.
The New York Red Bulls ran over the visiting New England Revolution at Red Bull Arena last Saturday. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the contest and was supported with goals from Lloyd Sam and Anthony Wallace in a 4-1 romp; Andy Dorman tallied for New England. Last Sunday, New York City FC was in a slugfest with Toronto FC at Yankee Stadium; when the dust was settled, the teams drew, 4-4; David Villa scored twice for New York and Sebastian Giovinco registered a hat trick and an assist for Toronto FC. An MLS game record four penalties were called.
In other MLS games last weekend, Philadelphia Union shut out Portland Timbers, 3-0; Sporting Kansas City defeated Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0; Colorado Rapids topped Real Salt Lake, 3-1; Chicago Fire over Seattle Sounders, 1-0; and FC Dallas beat Orlando City, 2-0.