2015 Gold Cup Roundup to the End of a Surprising Group Stage
By Amilcar Lewis
When we last left this group, we were lauding the efforts of the Haitians in the their first match while lamenting the combined efforts of the rest of the group. And when group play came to a close on Monday, we were largely doing the same. Eventual group winners U.S.A while having the impressive tally of 7 points from the 3 matches were ultimately unimpressive in terms of their level of performance and will have to raise their game significantly in the knockout stage. The surprise qualifiers from the group Haiti impressed with a 4 point haul after getting that elusive first win of tournament their last match against Honduras.
The Haitians overall spirit really won over neutrals and they showed improvement in each and every match. the only question is will their momentum carry over to the weekend round. Panama ended up being one of the best third place finishers with one-all draws in all three of their matches. They will have to show more grit and ambition in the next round in order to leave truly leave an impression in this Gold Cup. Bringing up the rear of the group was the very disappointing Honduran squad who could only manage a draw with Panama as the sum total of their efforts. Truly a fall from grace for La H who have qualified for the last two World Cups. This group of players needs some revamping before the World Cup 2018 cycle of qualifiers.
The Reggae Boyz shocked the Gold Cup with their steady play. After starting with a draw against their hardest opponents of the group Costa Rica, they broke down the following opponents Canada and El Salvador methodically and got matching one-nil results. Big upturn for the Jamaican squad who had just been bounced of the Copa America group stage without a point or a goal in three matches. They should not party too hard however and should look to better their previous best placing of third place moving forward in the cup. Costa Rica were lucky to eventually come second in this group as none of their games they truly dominated.
Pre tournament group favourites showed nothing of their perceived class as they limped to three draws which each got progressively worse with goals scored going from 2 vs Jamaica to 1 vs El Salvador and finally ending with a goose egg in their final match in the group against Canada. Real improvement is definitely needed for Los Ticos to reach the heights expected initially. Both El Salvador and Canada ended up tied on 2 points, which all things considered showed levels of competitiveness that was not expected from each squad. Plenty to look forward to each federation for CONCACAF World Cup qualifying which is slated to begin later this year.
The final group provided the biggest surprise of the tourney with the Soca Warriors from Trinidad & Tobago fighting to an amazing 4-4 draw with Mexico resigning El Tri to an unwanted second place in the group. The Soca Warriors won their previous two matches against Guatemala and Cuba impressively and look to ride the wave of group winners into the quarterfinals. The Mexicans however will look to lick their wounds and seek to mend their wounded pride over the weekend. The mission now has to be winning the whole thing by any means necessary as a nation of over 100 million watches every kick of the ball.
The second third place qualifier came from this group in the form of the proud Cubans. After an absolutely disastrous beginning against Mexico, Cuba had a better showing against Trinidad & Tobago and won their final match against Guatemala. They will look to upset the applecart again in the quarterfinals. Los Chapines were poor in this tournament only luckily gaining one point against Mexico which was done mostly to below average shooting by El Tri on the night. The Guatemalans do have some time however to steady their ship before the end of the year when the next competitive matches begin.