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BASN’s 2007 Gold Cup Preview
The United States are the defending champions, having won in 2005 and will put its title on the line in the first of two tournaments this summer.
Though not as prestigious as the Copa America to be contested in Venezuela soon after the conclusion of this tournament, it is ultimately more important. This is, after all, the U.S.’s confederation while they will simply be guests at the South American tournament.
Further, the Gold Cup winner is guaranteed a spot in the 2009 Confederations Cup, a pre-cursor to the World Cuip pitting the corresponding champions of the various FIFA confederations against each other.
To achieve this, head coach Bob Bradley has convened a mixture of domestic and international based players including some who saw action at last year’s World Cup.
Everton’s Tim Howard will man the nets as goalkeeper and will be able to count on Oguchi Onyewu in defense. Galaxy FC midfielder Landon Donovan will be counted on the lead the team as will KC Wizards forward Eddie Johnson who is on an absolute tear in MLS, having scored back to back hat tricks.
Keep your eye on DaMarcus Beasley who, like Onyewu is using the summer to audition for a new club side. The U.S. will play its first round matches at the Home Depot Center against Guatemala, El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago.
Semifinalists in 2000, and fresh off their first appearance at the World Cup, the Soca Warriors are relying primarily on domestic based players in this tournament as they usher in a new generation of Warriors.
They are coming off a win in a warm up tournament and still feature veterans such as Gary Glasgow and Silvio Spann of Joe Public (yes that’s the name of the club, insert “Live and Learn joke here…go ahead, I’ll wait…) and W. Connection respectively.
undefined undefined Denisil Theobald is another midfield veteran that should play a prominent role.
Haiti enter this tournament as the reigning Caribbean champions and will play their opening round matches in front of partisan crowds at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Haiti reached the second round in 2000 going out to Costa Rica in extra timeand will rely on emerging players like Miami FC’s (USL) Steven Guillame and former MLS player Alexander Boucicaut in the midfield.
Stalwart veteran Pierre Bruny has long been one of the better defenders in the Caribbean and is now playing back in Haiti for Don Bosco. This is a team that could make some noise as they have been playing some solid soccer under coach Luis Amelio Garcia but they have a wide open group that includes 2000 Gold Cup champions Canada (featuring Pat Onstead and Dwayne DeRosario of the Houston Dynamo in MLS, Julian De Guzman who plays in Spain, Atiba Hutchinson, and Steve Nash’s younger brother Martin) Costa Rica and first timers Guadeloupe who will rely on Cedrick Fiston and Ludovic Gotin in attack and Stephane Auvray in the midfield.
Four time winners, Mexico will be looking to make a statement in this tournament as they compete for the first time under new coach and former legend Hugo Sanchez.
Sanchez spent years begging, er “lobbying” for the job and is determined to pay immediate dividends by naming a very experienced squad to fly the Tri-color. All time leading goal scorer, Jared Borgetti is back as is the enigmatic Cuauhtemoc Blanco but it’s players such as Omar Bravo and “Kikin” Fonseca that will really drive this team.
They’ll rely on support from other well known stalwarts such as Pavel Pardo.Only Barcelona’s Rafael Marquez appears to be taking a pass. Like the Americans, Mexico will also be appearing in the Copa America following this tournament but given the firepower at their disposal, it’s clear that Mexico looks determined to recapture the title they last won in 2003.
Grouped with 2005 finalists Panama, Central American side Honduras and Cuba featuring goal scoring threat Lester More, they should have little problem winning this group comfortably.
With the absence of any guest teams for the first time in tournament history, I would be hard pressed to bet on anything other than the US and Mexico meeting in the final, much to the delight of my friend Azulina in Chicago.
But there are several teams like Costa Rica and Haiti who are looking to make a tremendous impact in this year’s edition.